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By Ken Thoreson

During the past two weeks I have been in Miami, Phoenix and this weekend I have been speaking in San Antonio.  I’ve have met with sales leaders from around the world, led workshops, presented keynotes and developed new long term relationships with our client base. It’s been a great few weeks.  I have also noticed an uptick in my own prospects and business opportunities.  Have you? Based upon my conversations almost every sales leader is optimistic and pipelines are filling. Are you ready to participate in the recovery?

Sales management is the lynch-pin that drives successful organizations. Sales leadership sets the tone, the culture and drives the organization to greater levels of revenues and profitability.  And now, during the past six months the topic of participating in the economic recovery and the impact of great sales management on the organization has been a critical and hot topic. The topics of surviving or working in a challenging economic time are over. Economic recovery? Yes, just reading USA Today, on Mon., Jan. 24, the signs are all over the paper:

  • Are you more or less optimistic than you were 3 months ago about the economic outlook this year?  91 percent of 46 Economists answered more.
  • Over the next 12 months, which will have the greatest positive impact on the economy?  48 percent said business, 45 percent the consumer.
  • The U.S. economy is expected to grow at an annual rate of 3.2 percent to 3.4 percent, up from an October 2010 forecast of 2.5 percent to 3.3 percent.
  • Employers are expected to add 200,000 jobs a month — more than double last year’s rate.
  • The Dow Jones industrial average is over 11,961 at the time of this blog.


How can sales managers make the most of a recovering economy? Sales managers should focus on the following steps:

  1. Build your hiring plan. sales managers should know today when they expect to add new salespeople for the next 18 months. Based upon your revenue goals for the next 24 months you should have a plan set defining what months you will need hire new sales talent to achieve those new higher sales targets. If your next hire date is March, then your recruiting plan must be in effect now, is it June? October? Make sure you also plan for the possibility that members of your current team could leave or be fired.
  2. Get aggressive on increasing your individual salesperson strategy sessions. Winning now is critical to building momentum.  Schedule special sales team sessions or hold a small group of salesperson discussions weekly to strategize each sales opportunity.
  3. Increase the culture building and the building of belief in your offerings and your organization. Your sales team needs to believe and feel the change in economic conditions, you want to build their desire to participate in the recovery. Take advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime, during the life time of the opportunity.
  4. Retool your sales compensation to ensure it is in alignment with your corporate objectives or if you have already rolled out 2011 compensation plans, create an aggressive sales contest or special incentives to win net-new clients or upgrade existing clients or hit higher levels of revenues/margin. Drive the sense of urgency to win.
  5. Sales management must now focus more than ever on “Brilliant Execution”. If you and your team are two steps ahead of your competition during the next four months, your summer and fall business opportunities will accelerate. Focus on increased levels of sales management planning. That means sales training, one-on-one coaching and  managing the number of calls per month per salesperson. You could even schedule weekly telephone blitz days to find those businesses that need your solutions to participate in their own recovery.

Sales leaders are the key to success, and you can make the difference. Now is the time to take advantage of opportunity and participate in the economic recovery.

What else do you think you should focus on to grow your business during the next 18 months? Let me know your thoughts.
Ken Thoreson is one of the Resident Experts of The ASCII Group, which helps provide sales strategies to its MSP/VAR Community .  Thoreson is also president of Acumen Management Group Ltd., a company that “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes.