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Is Your Sales Team Soft as Lard?

How to Prepare Your Team for a Downturn in the Market

As business owners, we’re in for a bit of a scrap 🥊

Most economists predict that a recession is on the horizon for 2023.

And while no one can accurately predict how bad it will be, it’s a good idea to start planning for tough times 

That’s why I’m encouraging business owners to scrutinise their sales and marketing teams.  

Have they got the grit, skills, and confidence to support you? 

Or, to quote Dan's Grandad, are they soft as lard?  

"People are either hard or lard, son." - Dan’s Granddad. 

Tub of lard

This topic was prompted by a recent conversation I had with a business owner and his marketing team. 

The owner came to me concerned they weren’t selling enough. 

Yet, when I pointed out what they were doing wrong, the marketing manager told me that she has a marketing degree. 

F*cking brilliant. 

I’m sure everyone was very proud of you for getting a 2.1 with your dissertation on ‘the impact of cultural differences on international marketing strategies’ but your boss is here telling you he’s not got enough sales to take a wage. 

If you are in for a bit of a scrap, it’s worth reviewing who is in your corner. 

I wouldn’t take fitness advice from a fat personal trainer, and I wouldn’t share advice if it didn’t work for me in the real world. 

In this edition I spoke with Benjamin Dennehy, The UK’s Most Hated Sales Trainer, for advice on how to weather a downturn in sales, and I share my own daily sales activity so you can see how your team measures up.  

I hope you find it useful 👇

What should people do if they’re struggling to sell during an economic downturn? 

Unless you’re selling a product or service that nobody actually wants, the way you’re behaving is causing you not to sell. 

This is a common problem with salespeople. They like to blame external factors. 

“It’s the economy, it’s the war in Ukraine, it’s Brexit, it’s the cost of living crisis” 

Yet despite all the shit going on in the world, trillions upon trillions of dollars are still changing hands

It’s got bugger all to do with those external factors, and everything to do with the crap going on in your head. 

If you're struggling to sell in a tough climate, you need to look in the mirror. 

Because do you know what’s really happening? During the good times, you weren’t selling Jack. 

You were just taking orders!!!. 

If you enjoy Benjamin’s direct style, you might want to check out his free video content on his new YouTube channel created by the IAM Studio Team: The UK's Most Hated Sales Trainer

Comforting words of wisdom from Benjamin.

But let's be frank. You subscribe to this newsletter because we provide honest, no-bullshit advice. 

And whilst I might not agree with everything Benjamin said (events like Brexit have undoubtedly made it more difficult for some businesses), I do think some teams have gone soft. 

Now is the time to scrutinize your sales and marketing strategy and ensure that you (or your business) are not simply order-takers. 

“Can I take your order please?” 

Season 5 GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

When you go into McDonald's, if you were to tap someone on the shoulder and ask them, “what are you doing?” the odds of them saying “oh, I’m just browsing” is pretty slim. They're in there to place an order. 

If your sales team is made up of order takers this is bad. Because order-taking is very dependent on circumstances outside of your control. 

During a recession, consumers tend to be more selective in their spending, and businesses that are merely fulfilling orders are likely to see their sales decline.

When the tide is high, order-takers do well. But with the tide going out, is your business going to get caught with its pants down? 

Sales Bootcamp - How to check if you’re ready for a scrap

In general, boxers know that success in their sport requires not just physical talent, but also mental toughness, discipline, and a willingness to push themselves to their limits in training.

Is everyone (including yourself) disciplined and willing to push themselves in your business?

We all know my Learning Heroes story. 

The strategies I used then continue to generate new business now. 

They’re not fancy or complicated. But I thought I’d share them with you, so you can see how you or your team measure up. 

#1 Daily Prospecting

I actively seek out potential customers who fit my target market.

This typically includes reaching out to 10 leads with a personalised message. 

Leaving 10 comments using the waffle house strategy.

And making at least 10 new connections on socials. 

#2 Qualifying 

Just like in boot camp, where not everyone can handle the intensity of the training, not all prospects are a good fit for your business. 

To avoid wasting your time and energy on 'tyre kickers', it's important to disqualify prospects who are unlikely to convert. 

In sales, disqualifying prospects is just as important as qualifying them, and it takes discipline and determination to do it effectively.

So I typically remove 25-50 connections on socials every day. 

And push my prospects hard with upfront information about costs and processes before agreeing to a call. 

#3 Ask for the Sale 

If I’m not speaking to 5-10 qualified leads a day I get annoyed. I know my product can help them, so I’m not worried about being a pushy salesperson. 

To ask for the sale you need to get prospects on a call. 

I’m clear about the outcome of the call and will say things like

 “By the end of the chat, we’ll decide if we’re going to move forward or not, does that sound reasonable?” 

Also, I only send personalised proposals to prospects I’m confident will close. Don’t waste time documenting your stupidity by sending proposals to clients who are never going to buy. 

If you can be disciplined about the number of calls you book in, and execute them with skill, the money will follow. 

#4 Follow Up 

We all know the stat that it takes 5-7 follow-ups to close a deal. But you’ve got to develop a sales brain. There’s no magic formula or amount of time you should wait before following up. 

Every case is different. But your sales team should be performing these disciplined CRM tasks every day:

Review the leads in your CRM - where are they up to? Do you need to follow up? 

Send the close-the-file email to any leads that have gone AWOL. 

And brutally remove dead leads from your CRM.

And that’s it. Told you it was simple. 

But if you or your sales team are performing those activities daily, you’ll have a great chance of making more sales for your business. 

Just like the gym, you can’t skip a day and expect the same results. Show up and get it done. 

Legday Sponge Bob GIF - Legday Sponge Bob Thigh - Discover & Share GIFs

Tough times require grit and discipline. Now is the time to remove anyone who you don’t want in your corner.  

And don’t forget to review your marketing activity. 

If the content being shared isn’t resulting in new sales opportunities, what is the point? 

Huge brands can put out content not linked to sales, but you’re not a huge brand. 

Your marketing content should complement sales activity.  

And I don’t need a marketing degree to know that.

Key Takeaways 

There’s a difference between ‘order takers’ and ‘order getters’. Which are you?

If sales are slowing in your business, you might find that your sales and marketing activities need urgent review. Set a daily sales boot camp based on my own activities. 

Is your team hard or lard? Tough times require grit and discipline. Now is the time to remove anyone who you don’t want in your corner. Be brutal. 

Review marketing activity - if the content being shared isn’t resulting in new sales opportunities, what is the point? Huge brands can put out content not linked to sales, but you’re not a huge brand. Your marketing activity should be sales focused, to help your sales team complete its daily prospecting activities. 

VAMO Member Shout 

Someone who is definitely not an order taker is Mark Simpson from Boostly. 

Inspired by our cheap marketing strategies to get your business noticed resource, he headed to Nashville with an OOH marketing campaign of his own. 

Brilliantly executed and resulted in 82 sales calls. Good look closing that new business, Mark. 

We hope it inspires you and your team to push yourself that little bit harder.

That’s all for this week. 

We hope you found it useful. 

If you’ve not already, don’t forget to subscribe to our paid community

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⚡ Access to the private Slack community

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Mike Winnet