How to Manage Your Sales Team During a Period of Decline

As a manager, you hope you’ll never have to figure out how to restructure your team due to falling profits or a sluggish market. But declines – either temporary or long-term – can occur with little warning. When and if the time comes, the following tips may help you through some of your toughest decisions.

REWARD TOP PERFORMERS

Once they sense your business is falling off, top sellers may begin to look for other jobs. You can’t afford to lose these people. So before you consider which team members might have to be eliminated, figure out what you can do to keep your all-stars.

Be up-front in your discussions with your top performers. If you can offer them a pay raise, do it. And if you can’t, find out how else you can entice them to stay. An extra week of annual paid time off, for example, won’t cost the company much – at least not as much as losing a valuable employee.

RETAIN KEY CLIENTS

When business is on the decline, you have to hold onto your big accounts, even if that means shifting some attention away from smaller clients. You might have to eliminate some sales reps that are dedicated solely to smaller clients and shift that work to other people.

Long-term accounts may prefer to deal with a particular person. That means you may need to retain sales team members who have built a rapport with your largest clients, regardless of what these employees contribute to the team, overall. Preserving your existing client relationships will be essential to surviving a decline.

FOCUS ON MORALE

When workers survive a layoff of any size, they may feel uneasy, uncertain about their future and upset. That’s not an emotional state conducive to productivity.

Schedule a meeting with your remaining staff to explain what challenges you face going forward, and why this is the right team to conquer them. Talk about how you’ll measure progress and how you’ll update the team about the state of the company. Transparency is critical, if you want to boost morale.

Making tough decisions is part of your job. But you don’t have to rely on your intuition alone. Think about how you can use data to track performance and eliminate processes that could be wasting time and money. Learn more about successful sales team management in our white paper, “4 C’s of Sales Success.” Download it by filling out the form below: