A study by Jobfox, a placement organization, states that sales and business development jobs are at the top of the list of the ten most recession- proof jobs in the country. However, this doesn’t mean that all sales jobs are safe. Downsizing the sales department is what most organizations do when hit with a tough economic time. Even in normal economic and market conditions, the sales department is the first to face the music and heads roll when the company’s sales do not measure up to the expected levels. Firing under-performing sales persons is very common when the sales figures fall short of the set targets. It is not always the right thing to do, but that’s the way it has always been.
Underperformance is hardly condoned in sales and not all high performances are rewarded. Underperformance makes a sales person vulnerable to the possibility of losing the job. While it is rational and reasonable that regular poor performers will be weeded out from the sales team, sometimes managers become unreasonable and make average performers the scapegoats to cover up defects lying elsewhere. In the chaos that come with a bad economy, even well meaning managers end up firing mediocre and good performers. So how do you avoid putting your job in the line of fire? How do you keep your job in a bad economy?
Work Hard and Smart
Work long hours, work hard, and work smart. Sacrifice a few of your hobbies if need be, and focus all your energies on your job. You can pursue hobbies when your basic needs are met and for that you need to keep your job. Remember, you need to create 15-20% more leads to sell at the pre-recessive levels. Use your free times in finding creative solutions to your sales related problems. Sit down with your boss and higher ups to set a reasonable target in the tough conditions. Work diligently to achieve your target and let your productivity speak for you. People that make money for the organization are valued and are left untouched. When you achieve your target don’t brag about it, be modest.
Measure Your Efforts and Achievements
Prepare detailed logs of calls made, clients visited, product demonstrations given, sales orders obtained, new customers added, and repeat sales made etc. Every work related activity should be recorded in a log sheet with clear details of time spent and resultant developments from the activities. Quantify in money terms how productive you have been. The company wants to know how much money you have made for them. It also would want to know how much time you are spending working. Even of you are reading blogs or books on “Selling in Tough Times” enter into your log the time spent reading. Be truthful and don’t fake when about your log entries, they may be scrutinized.
Cut Costs Voluntarily
Don’t wait for the office directive to cut costs. Do it voluntarily. Fly in the next lower class, stay in budget hotels, cut down on luxurious dining, and reduce treating customers to lavish parties. Quantify the costs saved in monetary terms and keep an accurate account of them. Your company will appreciate the money you have saved during the hard times.
Make Your Efforts and Achievements Visible
During tough times ask your boss for guidance, instructions, and targets more than you normally do. Report and inform him about your work progress regularly. Send all the reports to your boss so that he knows what exactly you are doing. It is also crucial that you inform your efforts and achievements to the person your boss reports to. This will make your boss impartial and accurate in assessing your performance. Things will be straight and simple as your boss will not want to put his job in risk in being unnecessarily critical of a productive person like you.
Let your boss as well as other higher ups in the organization know how sincerely you are working and how you are doing. Let them know how much money you have made for the organization and how much money you have saved by following frugal methods. If you go to the office before your boss arrives and leave after he leaves record the timings. When you are working late into the night sending Emails using your Linkedin account, send copies to your manager or boss so that he knows.
Ask for more challenging assignments and accomplish them. You will definitely keep your job.
When your company is trying hard to stay afloat it doesn’t make sense to whine about lack of more facility, perks, or incentives. If you whine you will be the first to go. You should be happy to have your job and work with gratefulness. Be a Low maintenance employee – both cost and emotion wise.
Be a Team Player
To be a team player first you must admire and respect the team leader or your boss. Be easy on others and have a good relationship with others in the team. Bury your differences and fight together to beat the tough times. Work towards achieving your personal targets as well as team targets. Help you teammates wherever you can so that the overall performance goes up and nobody is sacked.
Success comes after hard work, even in the dictionary. Work hard and smart – you will always have a job, no matter the economic and market conditions.
About the Author:
Doug Dvorak helps companies and professionals achieve results through customized, creative and non-traditional sales training systems that are “one size fits one” and developed to the unique business needs and “sales pain points” of each client. He is available to speak on these topics.
Permission is granted to reprint this article in print or on your web site as long as the paragraph above is included and contact information is provided.
Copyright 2008 The Sales Coaching Institute, Inc.
Sales Skills Training Strategic Sales Coaching
Doug Dvorak, CEO of DMG International, is the Author of the forthcoming book “Build Your Own Brand” (Pelican, 2009)