Last week, I discussed a relatively recent trend where companies are benching sales reps during these tough economic times. Everyone I spoke with agreed: it is a bad strategy for containing costs until the economy turns around.
Over the past week, a number of sales professionals have sent me their opinions on this disturbing trend. Like last week, the consensus was overwhelmingly against the idea of benching sales reps—and not just because it takes away their ability to earn a living. In fact, most were more interested in talking about their important role in helping their companies survive the economic downturn.
“Sales reps are the eyes and ears of the company and need to be sensing the market all the time,” wrote Kurt Bradtmueller. “This time can be used to develop relationships and find other ways to add value. If you simply make a call to ask how things are, that’s probably good enough. The customer may feel like the sales rep is a fair weather friend if they simply ‘disappear’ during the downturn. Those who continue to nurture the relationship capitalize on the existing opportunities and will get the biggest rewards when the market returns.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Sales reps are not only the link between customer and corporation; they are the nurturer of business relationships and the watchful eye in any type of market. No client will feel like they are in good hands if their sales rep simply disappears when the times get tough. A good sales professional will stick with their clients and find new ways in which to help their business.
Another sales pro said this: “Professional sales people can, especially during the more difficult times, create an even stronger relationship. Sales people who focus on their customer’s business, rather than their own sales can absolutely stay employed, engaged, and be very effective.”
Sales reps are a vital resource to their clients and benching them will affect their own and their company’s well being. Keeping an eye on how customers’ businesses are faring is the best way to keep sales up in a down economy. Find out what they need, and send your sales professionals to give it to them.