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Its Time To Thrive – 3 Areas Of Focus


Ugggh!  Keep the newspapers (remember them?) away from me.  The news is not pleasant.  Layoffs here, declining profits there, bailouts everywhere!

Just a bit ago I had a great conversation with a friend of mine James James (yes that is his real name) the VP of Sales for Yacht Chandlers relative to this state of economy and its impact on business, sales organizations, and individuals.  James shared the insight that in this environment most people - it’s human nature to - act in a way that:

  • Makes you look good
  • Reduces risk, and
  • Allows you to survive

I think James is right.  Look at what sales people are doing in this environment.  To look good, they might start using the sales force automation system that the company invested in (years ago).  To reduce risk they might bring more competitive pricing to customers who have opened conversations with competitors.  And to survive they are knocking on more doors hoping that some prospect is in crises mode to reduce costs that will allow for an opportunity to quote.

On a macro economic level the British economist John Maynard Keynes coined the term “liquidity trap” during the Depression in the 1930s. A liquidity trap is when the loss of confidence of businesses and consumers results in a desire to hold on to cash rather than spend or invest.  A bank for example in tough times like we are experiencing now, will want to look good by taking massive write-downs.  They will reduce risk by tightening credit.  And will act to survive by conserving cash and cutting its dividend.  Sound familiar?

My take on this environment is that now is the time to:

Be Good rather than look good
Now is the time to check your skills.  I have suggested for years that good times camouflage poor performance.  And factually many in sales and sales management are waking up in this new economic period realizing that they had not focused on developing their skills to succeed in not just the good times, but in tough times like these. You know what skills & behaviors have been lacking - have you been transaction oriented rather than consultative?  Have you been administrating rather than coaching.  Let’s focus on being good.

Manage risk rather than reduce risk
Now is not the time to cower, sit back and wait for the market to turn.  Now more than ever strategy comes into play.  In good times, the market was much more forgiving to those who reacted to opportunities rather than strategically created opportunities.  In our just published book Driving Distribution Sales Beyond: Best Practices For Outselling Your Competitors from the NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence, we explore how leading businesses develop the strategy and roadmap to achieve their vision.  Manage risk today by setting specific goals, detailing plans to achieve them and mobilize resources to work the plan.

Thrive rather than survive
In every market there are individuals and businesses that perform below the market averages and those that perform above those averages.  There are those that hang on and (try to) survive, and those who go beyond mediocrity to thrive. To thrive today we must have an expectation of success, which include the needed behaviors and a focus on superior execution.

One of the things that I am doing to be good, manage risks and thrive in this market is embracing the whole social networking movement.  Another is that we continue to evaluate ourselves internally relative to our commitment of “more than satisfied customers.”  Let me know if you want more information on either of these and I’ll be happy to post.

So what are you doing in these times to Be Good?  To Manage Risk?  And to Thrive? Share your insight so that we can learn from you.


Now is the time to invest in people; sales training, joining and starting peer groups are two things we are doing. It is a good time to dust off the concept of detail process charting to improve the client experience since there is so much change afoot.
Posted @ Monday, March 09, 2009 1:32 PM by Steve Visio
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