How to Lead a Sales Team During an Economic Crisis w/ Steve Benson | The Reid Method Insider Podcast

welcome back to the read method: insider podcast: this is episode 69 and we are racking up the episodes lately here fast and furious on the show.

So i want to thank everybody for joining and you know what i want to give a big shout out right off the bat to some countries uh, especially india.
Today we released an episode over there with uh our guest from a few episodes ago.


Her name is janaki and janaki s, and you guys should probably check her out um.

She gave us some really nice tips on linkedin and it’s just has gone crazy in the last literally in the last 12 hours on on linkedin, where so many people have been listening to the episode, um and commenting.
So i want to thank her for coming on the show to talk about you know, giving us tips on linkedin and how to maximize and how to network and how to to brand ourselves on linkedin, because that’s all vital stuff, that’s very important, um stuff that we’re All trying to do, especially for those of you, who’ve, been working from home and looking for new opportunities um, it’s just very uh, vital these days.

So i want to just give one quick shout out to, and this is important to me because you know we we’re a relatively small podcast, but these countries that the top 10 countries, obviously the united states, then canada, then the united kingdom.
And today we have india in the fourth position: jamaica, where i’m from uh and the netherlands, japan, pakistan, australia and trinidad and tobago, and those countries have been with me and there’s 50 others.
But those are the top 10 recently and i just wanted to say thank you to all the supporters and listeners from those countries.

So i see you and i appreciate you very much – keep listening, keep sending in your comments.
So here we go now on this episode.
We are going to talk about how to lead sales teams in times of economic crisis, and we are certainly um in that right now and our returning guest is the founder and ceo of badger maps.

The number one route planner for field sales reps after receiving his mba from stanford, he joined google, where he became google enterprise, top sales executive globally.
Folks in 2019, in 2012 he founded badger maps and he’s held helped field sales people to be more successful with multi-stop route planning systems.

He also hosts outside sales talk, and this is an amazing podcast.

You should check out i’ve been on the show and it’s grown leaps and bounds, and on this show he interviews, industry, experts and they’re taught and to get their top sales tips to share with you he’s also the president of the newly founded sales hall of fame.

I saw the evolution of this and i want to welcome back to the show mr steven benson well thanks for having me on here today, everyone – i really i’m really excited to be here yeah.
This is uh the last time you’re on a couple years ago, and you know we’ve both um been there and seen simultaneously each other’s evolution over the last couple of years.

Yeah, absolutely i mean it’s been a fantastic couple years i mean podcasting has become so much more popular over the last few years.
You know, as things have developed here, it really has yeah, absolutely so uh.
You know when i was going through this again and i’m, like you know, tell us about the time at google and how you became google’s global sales rep like how did that happen? Uh i mean i like to say that was right place right time.

More than anything else, i uh you know i i started there in 2008 and then in 2009 um.

I just i got a lot of big sales deals done um i i was selling uh google software at that point, um the enterprise software, so like google, apps and google maps, and there they have some security, software and um.
You know i just i uh really hit the ground running there and got some got some nice deals done and uh turned out to be a really great year, amazing, so yeah i’ve always you know it’s always interesting to know what led one to the next level.

You know and what caused the transition? You know how you you know you became identified as this.
You know because everybody we see, google, everybody goes on, google every five seconds of their life, and you know here we are talking to one of the guys back in the day that sold all the stuff for google and you know globally.
So this is this.

Is a big deal and i’m very privileged to have you back on the show, so we’re going to dive into this episode as we talk about how to lead sales teams in times of economic crisis, and we know we can identify several companies around us directly indirectly, That are going through some type of crisis right now and uh.
It’s certainly great to have your insight, a leader of a company in silicon valley and um.
You know who has been all over the all over the world and have seen you know and are definitely in tune with, with globally, with how uh sales teams inside and out um are able to navigate through these times.

So in your uh one of the first questions i want to ask you is: what are some of the new challenges a sales manager needs to overcome in bad economy that they might not have been thinking about before yeah absolutely um.
Well, first, you know the new challenge is that one of the one of the first key new challenges that come to mind is that in in a down economy, you’re dealing with desperate competitors who may be willing to do absolutely desperate things? You know a ton of companies are really hurting and are willing to do things that they wouldn’t necessarily have done before.

Um things like liquidating their inventory uh just to make ends meet right so having a fire, sell, basically giving away free stuff to win business uh to steal your customers away from you right, free, consulting free um, you know buy one get one free free anything they Have they can get their hands on to uh, to sweeten a deal deep, discounting that they that they wouldn’t have done before, because they just need to get money coming in the door? So they can, you know, keep the lights on and that can even if your business isn’t as impacted.

If your competitors are impacted like this, it can really affect you um.
In addition, i would say so that’s kind of like the a new challenge that you, a sales manager, is going to be facing from competitors but um.
You know, there’s also uh challenges and and things that you’re need gon na need to overcome.

Coming from your prospects and your customers, yeah, there’s gon na be resistance to making purchases and spending money that just wasn’t there before they might be.
They they might not want to engage.
They might not want to.

You know, uh meet with you.
They might not want to meet with you in person they might, and they have a great excuse not to not to yeah.
If, if there was someone that didn’t want to meet with you before or really didn’t see the value in your product or wasn’t sure now they have a great excuse to do nothing right and uh.

You know just just like if a sales manager or a sales rep ever wanted an excuse not to not not to succeed in the world.
Now they have a great excuse but um.
You know that even the best excuses – don’t don’t pay your mortgage, so you can quote me on that.

One yeah, i think uh yeah i’ll second, that so so, on the other hand, um negotiating training.
How can a sales manager react in a bad economy uh to their margins? Compressing.
You know, yeah one.

You know there there’s just resistance to spending money right now, there’s compressing money.
You know there can be spending freezes coming from the top.
There can be aggressive procurement officers, who are you know, leveraging the down economy to for discounts and to get better terms in general and jam your market, your margins, and you know a procurement officer.

When do they stop? When does anyone stop ringing a wet rag of water right? It you stop when it stops giving water, and now every procurement officer in the in the world has a great excuse to just twist your arm as a sales person to get a few more concessions to get the price lower, and this is their job right.
You mean we can’t you can’t hate them for it.
It’s just you have to be prepared for this, but as as you’re, you know, as your margins are compressing um you, you need to defend your margins in these times.

Right i mean it’s.
It’s it’s one of the jobs of a sales manager to arm their sales team, with the skills and abilities to maintain the margins.

You know one one strategy you can, you can think about employing if your reps have historically been comped on revenue.

If you’re, under a lot of margin pressure, you can switch the comp plan and and make it comp the reps on profit margin and and that can that can really get their focus back on.
But you know get their focus on maintaining the margins and not just bringing in the door but bringing profitable business in the door.

So you know if, if your profit margins are 30 and your rep gives a 15 discount, you actually need two deals like that.

To be worth the deal that was at full price and and people, don’t it’s easy to focus on the math uh you know of oh.
We brought in this much revenue, but you know, if you have a lot of costs baked into that revenue, then it’s really more important to focus on the profit, so you can align that comp that reps comp plan with the revenue and then the 15 discount.

You know if it’s, if you’re aligned with revenue on the comp plan, the 15 discount only costs them 15 of their commission, but if the comp plan is aligned with profit that 15 discount just costs them half their commission, so they’ll do a much better job.

Defending margins, if you align that comp plan um with the profit line, instead of with the revenue line and in general, you always want to design comp plans to be aligned with what your business needs.

Um and that’s that doesn’t mean change, change your reps pay or on target earnings.
I’m not saying that, i’m just saying you can change the plan um and reward the reps that are generating the the most profit.

You know that’s so you know that’s so key and a lot of and the reason why we’re having this discussion – and i love uh when we when we have when we talk, is it’s we’re not just talking about the surface level stuff where you know, i’m in The automotive space most of my career, where everything is, is really surface level.
No one really dives deep into the you know the philosophy into what makes individuals tick.
You know um beyond what is what a great example of where a place to comp your reps on profit, not revenue right, not right, [, Laughter, ]! You can sell a car and make a hundred dollars, even though it’s a twenty thousand dollar car yeah, and that does happen.

That does happen so yeah.
So so, where is the motivation right? Because, at the end of the day that sales rep – and this is true today – you know where whether you’re selling kias toyotas hondas and certain cars, because the profit margin you know is the available profit margin – is – is relatively low on those cars.

Maybe six percent seven percent and the minimum commission, and i’m speaking from knowledge here and experience – is a hundred and fifty dollars.

If it’s a minimum commission now you could make three or four but that on on the lower price cards.

But when you have a sales rep saying i’m going to you know i’m going into work today and you’re going to bust your butt, the same three hours potentially to sell one car and you’ve seen the client three four times and at the end of the day, You make 150 dollars, they they’re not happy.

You know yeah so, and there’s no motivation in that.
So i like um, you know what you’re talking about here, you know is aligning the compensation with profit margins so because i think it changes the mentality of the sales rep, and this is ultimately what we’re trying to do is to bring them more into the game.

As opposed to being okay well just go, sell the cars and yeah it’s 20 or 30 thousand dollars, and you know you’re just lucky you get a deal rather than make any money.

No, that’s! That’s! That’s pretty good! So so what do you think sales leaders need to change in their behavior in in the time of crisis, to keep you know, keep revenue flowing and to keep focus? Well, you know the inec.
An economic crisis is the hardest time to be a sales leader right.
The whole company depends on revenue, and so you really need to step up as a sales leader during a time of economic crisis.

So in terms of what behavior can you change? What can you do different? You can be more responsive.
You can give your your reps great support.
You know.

They’re scared, they’re, worried about their jobs.
They’re, you know the their base, salary being guaranteed by the pvp for a few months doesn’t doesn’t help with their commission check check evaporating.
They weren’t they weren’t paying their mortgage with their base and you know they so there.

This is a it’s a stressful time and as they see their their bonuses evaporate as people as customers aren’t buying um.
You got ta guide.
Your reps you’ve got ta coach, your reps.

In these times it’s really easy as a leader to go silent, and just you know, especially in a working from home world hide behind your computer, but you know: you’ve got ta.
You’ve got ta be in front of your reps asking questions finding out what they need to be successful.

You’ve got you have to understand, what’s going on the ground level um, so you can that you can steer the ship well, and you know you’ve got to be honest in your assessment of of what’s challenging and what you know what challenges are you’re facing as an Organization, um, you got to ask the hard questions.

Uh, you got to come up with an action plan and you’ve got to stay positive right.

Well, yeah, and you know i was just going to ask you a question about that uh about tone and attitude, because i see this firsthand and all the time where you’re asking, especially in this time of crisis, employees are going to work every day because they need To they can’t pay their bills with the you know, the government assistance, so they go back to work they’re, putting in they’re coming in early they’re, staying late in an unsafe, relatively unsafe environment due to covid and everything else, and in some respects, they’re dealing with managers That can’t handle the pressure.
Frankly, they are, you know, getting overwhelmed or getting worked up and they’re, not leading frankly they’re not actually leading their sales team, so everybody’s getting frustrated uh in the process and which hampers productivity and profitability.

You know and and everything else so so what do you say to leadership uh in about attitude about tone about communication in a time of crisis? Well, um, you know, i.
I think i think that uh as a leader, you have to be able to communicate honestly in these times you you have to be able to just be flexible and you have to adjust your style, and you know you ha.
You have to be honest, also with yourself um.

You know not, there’s not necessarily the easy way out for a lot of businesses, and you have some.
Some businesses have to make real big changes.
They have to be able to pivot.

They have to understand.
You know this this strategy that we’re using isn’t the right one going forward because the world has changed, and so we have to shift into this one, and you know it’s not the the times that are most frustrating is is when something’s, not your fault, but it’s Just you know it’s the way it is, for you know it’s just it’s what it is.

It’s an external force but uh.

You know, for example, you you need to change your your your focus as a manager from the from forward-looking kpis or you.
You need to look at forward-looking, kpis, not just lagging kpis in any time like this, like, like you, can’t just look at current revenue, you have to look at you know it what’s gon na happen and and what what’s gon na happen in the future? It’s it’s easy to just look at sales right now and revenue coming in the door, because cash is king right, you got ta, you got ta, be able to pay pay people and pay your expenses and keep the lights on.

But, as you evaluate your reps, you need to remember to keep an eye on who’s, building, pipe who’s, generating revenue or who’s going who’s doing the things today, that’s going to generate revenue in the future as the economy as the economy, bounces back so um.

You know in general, if you’re a sales manager, you need to look to realign your kpis and metrics into these areas that you’re that your team is struggling, and so, if you’re, if you’re having pipeline problems – and you know you’re, just not bringing a new pipe, you Need to count your lead, gen numbers and focus on that you need to have you need to count how many, how many people are getting meetings scheduled? How many new leads are getting scheduled um if your challenges are more middle funnel you need to focus in on who’s making.
You know how many presentations to the right decision makers, if, if you’re, not closing business, which a lot of people aren’t right now, they’re teeing up deals and doing a good job at generating interest and do and going through the sales funnel walking through the middle of The pipeline well, but then then, customers aren’t buying and uh.
You know that might be because they’re they don’t have any money to spend right, but they you you it’s a good time to look to look to train on how to overcome those objections.

How to show the the near-term value of the the solution that you’re giving work on negotiation skills, value selling um? You know if you’re struggling with margins track, what your discounts are on every single deal and figure out why the discount was so deep and protect your margins with value selling skills with negotiation, training skills, but all these metrics.
All these.
These are all secondary metrics to revenue.

If you focus too much on counting anything other than revenue dollars or profit, you can get skewey results right, like you know, as a sales manager, you can’t totally change what you’re, how you’re rating the team and ultimately it’s got to be profit and revenue um.
I don’t remember i i don’t recommend putting putting too much weight in terms of the comp plan or you know which rep is is considered to be doing the best on anything except for the types of metrics like closing deals and profit can’t be on how many Proposals you’re they’re, giving because then you’re just going to get a lot of proposals or presentations or whatever that aren’t necessarily going to turn into to revenue which down the line, isn’t going to help you.
So those are the kpis so other than the kpis, which are obviously important, because everybody needs to know exactly what’s going on into in their companies right now in any any company, let alone any sales business.

It’s all about the numbers right now and you need to know these numbers inside and out, but how do you manage the people aspect of it where the teams come in and stressed? Okay, they have their own individual issues to deal with at home.
We don’t know exactly you know in your company, you’ve got 75 people, let’s say um and they all have personal lives and they all have personal circumstances and that’s a part of leadership too, because is it a one-size-fits-all? You know paint everybody with the same brush type mentality in terms of leadership, or are you suggesting everybody you know dealing with everybody at scale on a different individual level, because i think, from my perspective – and i did a whole presentation on on this recently – is – i Think to get the best out of your people going forward to manage those numbers and to manage those kpis and to implement these new systems and new strategies.
I think you need to get the people’s mind into the right place that number one they have support for management number two, the company’s gon na back them um number three.

They need training wherever that’s possible, but is there something that you say to your staff to give them a little bit of comfort so that they can see? You know it will be okay, yeah? Well, you know we hear a ton about um empathy for our customers.
Right now, a lot of people are talking about that.
I think as a as a leader of an organization or a sales leader or a marketing leader, or really anything you need to empathize with your employees.

You need to know that everyone kind of has a different.
A different situation, you know maybe john – can handle not making his commission for a few months, uh and but jimmy can’t right and you know you have to recognize.

People are coming from different situations and some people are check to check and some people have.

You know a spouse that has a big job and they you know they need the money, a lot less their you know their their rent’s covered easy, no matter what but um knowing – and i think i think it’s really hard to do that at scale.

Right, um and – and we have had conversations at scale in our company where i talk to everyone at the same time and we’ve also had um a lot of conversations one-on-one where me or another leader in the team is, is interacting with the with with individual employees And you have to yeah, it has to be a one-on-one basis and you have to check in with how people are doing you have to empathize with them.
You have to understand where they’re coming from you know at the beginning, at the beginning of calls today, i think it is important to check in with people, because we’ve got so much going on in the world, not just economically but culturally and – and you know it’s, It’s a it’s a it’s a time where different people are being are affected in different ways.

Yeah! That’s that’s good.
I think this is just a valid point, because i think too many times too many leaders overlook the the people aspect or the human aspect of it, and especially in a time of crisis, uh everybody’s dealing with their own individual crisis, and but they still, you know, Put on their pants and come to work every day and show up and uh, you know you don’t need to leave stress in one place at home to go to work because some people, you know what i have learned and i’ve known this, but i’ve seen it Is some people sometimes leave their home where it’s a lot of stress to come to work because it’s almost less stress there, sometimes yeah yeah? So you know i’m hearing that from a lot of employees.

They’re, like this is my favorite time of the day, [ Laughter, ] yeah, because a lot of work hasn’t changed that much for for most of my employees right, like yeah.

If they were selling our software solution before this crisis, they still are um if they’re marketing it they’re still marketing.
If they’re on the engineering team, you know there’s still engineering and most of them are like in a bedroom somewhere.
You know pretending it’s their office, but um, you know, but but in the end like you know, their job has not materially changed where their social life is upside down, and you know they’re fighting with their spouse, because they’ve been locked up for the last four months.

Together, etc, yeah so um.
So what do you think are some of the areas that reps commonly need coaching in a down economy? Coaching yeah! I mean, i think this depends on the team and the industry, but i guarantee that everyone should be reevaluating and rethinking about their their coaching strategies: , one specific area that i think everyone will need to be coached on a bit and needs to rethink His building pipeline, you know we, we often need to relearn to prospect and rethink who we’re selling to in a bad economy, because the the best buyer for our product or service or whatever may have shifted a little bit, um and or or even maybe shifted.
Not just a little bit, maybe is a totally different person or you know ideal customer profile icp that we’re trying to sell to today.

So we need to sharpen our sharpen our weapons and and get out and hunt and build some pipeline.
You know, and in good times the food might have been easy to come by in a lot of these industries and yeah.

A lot of teams were just farming and coasting along, but now the locusts have descended and eaten all the crops and we’ve got ta.

We’ve got ta, pull out those bows and arrows and and get out into the into the woods and and shoot some stuff.
You know so.
Yeah yeah get out there and so yeah sales sales leaders they they have to help their teams.

Get back to the basics.

Find new leads build pipeline and the good news is that in this economy, we’re seeing people pick up the phones and engaging with people in a way um.
I don’t think we’ve seen in decades right yeah.

They they have the time to evaluate new vendors they’re motivated to find new vendors who can help them solve their burning problems.
They have right now, so you know coaching and up leveling.
Your team skills is always important.

You know, but i think it’s especially important in tough times and really any time of change or upheaval, and this in this economy.
We, while we’re seeing you, know we’re in an adjustment phase, i would say – and sales managers, i think, should be spending 50 percent of their time coaching their team through this transition – and this could be pre-call strategizing, post-call debriefing.
It could be jumping on calls with them.

It could be, you know, specifically coaching them through each each individual opportunity.

You know anything that makes their their reps on their team better and sharpens.
The sword would count towards that.

Rule of thumb.
50 of their time needs to be spent coaching them yeah and that that’s where i think a lot of companies fall way short is in coaching because, especially pre-covet, where things are going along and because they’re selling and they’re meeting their perceived targets.

They think it’s.

Okay and one of the on this major panel that i just hosted, we discussed uh culture in companies where how how can the? How can a company truly realize their capabilities or individuals realize their true capabilities with no training? You know because, because things are going, okay in the economy and the company company’s doing good, i’ve always stressed this.
Can you imagine if there was actual systematic training you’re talking about 50 training, but there are companies that don’t ever get five percent of their time? Training.
All year – and i know these companies – and i’m not saying the rep – should be spending 50 of their time training, i’m saying as a sales manager, manager yeah you, you should be spending 50 of your time.

Coaching and training and coaching and training means a whole bunch of things yeah, but but that’s where your focus needs to be right now i mean it’s it’s on it’s on, it’s got it they’ve got you’ve, got to help.
You’ve got to manage the team through through the transition yeah, absolutely so uh.
So how can a sales leader then take advantage of uh prospects, actually picking up the phone? And we were talking about that a bit and being open to new ideas, because the down economy forces them to be open to change yeah i mean, i think you need to think about changing the structure of the sales team.

Um many sales teams are are broken up into into your hunters, your aes, and then your farmers, sometimes called customer success, associates um csas and your your lead generators.
You know your your sales development reps, your sdrs, so you a lot of a lot of uh.
A lot of companies are breaking up their teams more and more into these different roles and gain some real efficiencies.

Um, the guy, the guy that kind of wrote the book on this um.
You know that what was that book called predictable revenue, uh aaron ross.
I had him on my podcast uh.

I don’t know a year ago or something, but he already summarized this stuff, but um these con, the concept of restructuring the sales team for the modern world into into individual roles.

Um, i think that’s, that’s one! That’s one way you can take advantage of of this is by focusing the sdr on generating the leads, passing the deal to an ae to close and then passing that, to you know a csa to manage the ongoing relationship and and so yeah.
Maybe you had hunters and farmers before, but now you can think of retooling these teams, so you you maybe now some of the farmers have extra time on their hands because because you’ve lost some of the customers, you had under management.

So your current customers business is down and they they, your existing customers, have fewer needs and they’re taking up less time of your customer success team.
So you can move those farmers back into hunting roles and you know they.
They may be a little hesitant to do that because they’re like oh, i’m, not a sales person, i’m an account, i’m an account manager, but you know you.

The the skill sets are similar enough that you can.
You can re-tool in this in this hard time and – and you know obviously their comp plans have to change to be more of a hunter plan.

More of a you know, ewitch kill type plan, but you know i think a lot of them will be they’ll.

Be up for that given given the economic situation that uh they were faced, you know uh a survey right before coronavirus.
I remember um said that one-third of all salespeople never prospect, and i think this is a time where we have to dig deeper and refocus.
You know it’s not a time for excuse making rationalization.

You know that which is you know right now.

Everybody’s got an excuse right, yeah, it’s it’s! You know, there’s never been a better excuse not to succeed right now, but yeah, if you or or if you’re.
Looking for a great excuse to quit, you know you you’ve got your great excuse right now.

No one’s ever gon na think uh any think the worst you because it’s a disastrous time, it’s catastrophic, but but if you still have the fire and you want to win, i think i think you’ve got to dig deeper and take advantage of these people.
People out there are willing to engage right now, so you shift resources into outbound sales into engaging with more prospects.

You get your message in front of your ideal, buyer and, and you build your pipeline close in business.

So as much as one may not have an excuse to you know or has an excuse to quit, um potentially or could say well, you know i’m not doing so well because of kovit, i’m not doing you know.
Things are bad because of the economy.

Things are bad because of all these cultural issues going on i mean yes, the world is uh.

You know a pretty turbulent place right now, with probably two or three major.
Well, three, you got the economic issues.
You got coveted, causing more in-depth economic issues.

You’ve got all these cultural issues uh all over the place, but with that there is still opportunity for to be had right.
So within this uh time as easy as one could potentially say, i have a reason to quit.

What’s your opinion on also having a reason to succeed? Yeah i mean i’ll be for sure it’s you know everyone’s thinking.

You know it’s a great time for for with an excuse for quitting and blaming other things, and it’s a turbulent time it’s wild times, and it’s distracting times right.
I think it’s buyer not only or are we we as on the sell side distracted, but buyers are also distracted right, it’s hard to focus on work when you know there’s all these other things going on in the world that are so important, and you know, i Think you know i i.
Where do you find the motivation for that? I think i think when, when you step back, i think you know and look at look at this period in your life you’re not going to want your career to have gone sideways because you weren’t able to maintain focus right.

It’s a it’s a distracting world right now and you know it’s it’s a difficult one, but i think it’s one that we people, people can maintain, focus and, and that’s really important, they do that and that’s that’s.
I think, when you step back, that’s the way to maintain motivation, is you know, focus on your goals, think about where you want to be three years from now, look at the long term and and and uh you know pound it out yeah so to follow up On the previous question about um force and change or being open to change, when you do that, when you go to build a pipeline, how is that different in a bad economy versus a good one yeah? Well i mean the messaging needs to change right um.

So how how do you change your your go to market that? What your prospect hears about your company and your your service or your product needs to be.

It needs to be different, so you have to change your messaging from will help you do better to.

We will help you do more with less, and it’s really important in when, in times when money is tight, to show your prospect prospects, how much, how much more you’ll help them do with less quantify it in terms of dollars.
This is how much we will help you do more, with less could be less money, it could be, less manpower could be, could be less resources.

Um i’ll use me as an example right.
So when times were good, my sales team at badger maps would would go out and say to our when they were going to our customers.

Um and we’ve changed messaging on the website.

Right i mean, but the the messaging that the sales team was taking out was.

We will help your will help your sales team sell 20 more um when they’re in the field, so your field sales team is going to sell more right.
So that’s that’s! The old messaging is, is sell more and now my messaging is with badger maps.

Your outside sales team can generate the same revenue even though your team might be 20 smaller right, more with less and and that’s that there’s a huge difference psychologically and with the word with people’s head spaces, where you can connect with them.
Even though you’re you know, i’m basically saying the same thing and i’m doing the same thing, but one of these messages resonates the messages yeah yeah.
Well, that’s that’s a good point.

Um help you to do more with less yeah.
That’s amazing because that’s that’s saying to your prospective client, you know i’m offering you more value, i’m offering you more convenience uh, you know or i’m solving your problem.
Uh, you know without having to spend as much um.

Your results will be similar.
So you might not be losing as much and and who doesn’t want to have.
You know find a way to to keep that revenue coming or to to to keep.

You know, like you say, keep the lights on and so on, but without having to put more people on the floor or without having to cut staff or without having to you know, lay off a bunch of people, um yeah yeah, it’s it’s a pretty big uh.
I like that, so so many people right now their messages.

Still in this time.

Hey we’re going to help you do better we’re going to help you improve x, y z and people are like i’m bleeding over.
Here i mean you’ve got ta.
You’ve got ta help me keep the wheels on this on this bus, even though we have less gas and less oil.

You know you know this is this.
Is such a big deal right now because you know what’s resonating with me right now is um.
I i created the lease performance blueprint course, and it’s exactly this to do more, with less and and in the automotive space, and i i have to do this because you brought it up, is in the automotive space.

Every single dealer is worried about getting clients through the getting traffic through the door.

That’s their main focus.
How do we get more traffic through the door? How do we get more leads yeah? How do we get more calls, and i’m, like hang in a second you? Actually have half the business that you’ll do this year is already in your database, absolutely okay, and so the system i’ve created, focuses on maintaining a larger percentage of the clients you have in your database, while building on the base right, as opposed to being dependent and Focus heavily focused on the flow of traffic through the door well, and this this is uh.

This is exactly what we were talking about earlier with uh, with the breaking up your hunters and your farmers.

So in the software industry you know where i think this trend started um, you know with aaron ross back in the day um they he figured out.

I shouldn’t have my sales people generating new leads.

I should have a separate type of sales person generate the leads and pass them to that sales person, and then i shouldn’t have my sales person dealing with existing customers.

I should pass once someone is closed.
I should pass that person to this this customer success person who is whose whole job is to keep customers happy and successful, and – and i and i’m i’m guessing that, then in auto in automotive.

It’s still that’s one guy doing all three of those things, whereas in software that’s really three different people right like i have three teams that are all basically sales but they’re, they’ve, split up the sales roll into three pieces and because they’re focusing on that individual piece, They get a lot better at it.
They they become.
You know the the guys that are only generating leads, become awesome at generating leads and they’re, not distracted by existing customers when they’re generating their leads and the people who are focused on the existing customers.

Get really good at that, and you know to your point: if automotive companies did that, if they had someone whose job it was to focus on on the existing customers, they’d probably get a lot more return.

Business they’d, if they’ve had someone full-time, just focus on their success, their happiness with the vehicle, whereas instead, i think, a lot of times.
They have like a service department that overcharges them.

You know exactly, and the focus is just really lopsided and – and i’ve proven this year after year, because you know the question i get all the time is hang on a second.
How do you get to work at a dealership and travel and coach and have podcasts and lecture and speak all over the place, and the answer is my systems.
I’ve developed systems that i use that allows me to be most years, except for last year, the top rep in the company um, largely because i was traveling too much again now.

Don’t have that excuse this year, yep right but um.

But aside from that, it’s being able to manage a system, so i’ve developed the system and i’ve been trying to say look the majority of your business and every dealership, for the most part, is like this and a lot of retail sales companies are like this, where The primary focus is new people through the door.
Let’s, let’s worry about not you know letting the competition get them, because so we got to spend a lot of advertising.

We got to spend a lot of make a lot of outbound calls got.
Ta obviously have to follow up and and that’s where, as you know, in sales, a lot of the business is lost right there at the follow-up stage, and you know like you’re, saying um, a third of sales people never prospects so more like 80, don’t even follow Up so or two thirds at least um follow up very little, so you’ve got that problem right there that you can nip that in the butt a little bit, because, like you’re saying, if you have these different departments, focused on specific things like lead generation, where all The e-leads that are coming in most dealerships get a ton of elites today because, as you know, everybody’s shopping at home right but oftentimes.
The leads are not answered in a timely manner.

Yeah uh, the leads are not focused on because you’re trying to focus on the lead, but in walks the client into the showroom and then they’re saying you got ta look after the client because he’s standing there and that’s exactly why your ae your sales rep can’t Be the person getting back to the leads, so i would call that an inbound sdr, so you know you’ve got these leads coming in.
Someone should be getting back to those in five minutes.
Try signing up for badger maps um! You know putting putting your name and email address watch what happens you you get you or open a ticket with us.

You know yeah.
If you’re like hey, i don’t understand how to how to upload my data and get all my customers into badgers.
So i can see them like watch how fast they get back to you.

Um, the the the average time is five minutes and i think that’s it’s so important to to because people people want stuff and they want it now.
They don’t want it in two days and if you, if, if, if it’s an ae, if it wasn’t, if it was one of the sales people that were getting back – and you know in your world the showroom guy, you know that person’s in a three-hour conversation.
Right now, you know later in the sales funnel talking to a deal that he’s trying to close he’s, not he’s not checking his his uh his emails right now and going through the e-leads and making those phone calls right.

It’s it’s too.
So you got to split that up.
I i think it’s just inefficient, not to split that up have one of the lower level people um.

It’s an introductory sales job right, it’s lower level, it’s it’s! It costs less, but you can have them get right back to people.

You can have them answer all the questions, tee them up to get them in the door and become become a real, a real lead.
And if you don’t, you know, maybe they end up buying a buying a used car buying a buying a mercedes, not a lexus right, yeah yeah, exactly and and this is so vital because and as you as you’re talking, i’m like this is exactly what i see.

Every day you know and like this is such bs that we actually you know like a lot of owners, a lot of leaders, a lot of managers.
Don’t actually see this, that you could actu.
You could be way more successful within a sales organization, not just automobile dealerships if you segment the responsibility because electronically, it’s via email, calls uh chats text they’re coming in fa fast and furious.

I mean look at the amount of online shopping.

That’s going on in the last three four months right! So that’s the same thing: they’re doing they’re, buying high ticket items or they’re ordering a big mac online, yeah so or or a coffee, whether it’s five dollars or whether it’s fifty thousand dollars and they’re not being looked after efficiently.
So that’s that’s a good point.

I certainly uh that that certainly reaffirms what i’ve been thinking.
You know another thing that jumps out at me.
While i think about your business, i think referrals are probably really important.

Yeah there there’s a this woman who’s, just brilliant um joanne black uh.
She has written.
She lives out here in in san francisco, and i i she uh she’s written three books on on all the secrets to referrals and she’s.

Just done this tremendous amount of research and like it’s, it’s incred, there’s so many great techniques to get people to tell you who tell you.

You turn on their brain for a second and tell you, oh, i actually do know three people who are kind of in the market for a car right now, right like it, but but the ability to do that and get people to to actually share their referrals With you, i i think that, and maybe you already have a system for this um, but that in your existing customer and lead database, um to be able to go through them and and pour through them and get introductions from referrals would be so powerful.

Joanne did a she was.

She was on my podcast, like you were um, oh, i don’t even know a year and a half ago two years ago, but it’s like a a 40-minute summary of how to do referrals if you want to get if if the three books is too much, no I’ll, if they’re on uh well i’ll, definitely listen to that episode and i wrote down her name so uh, it’s joanne black and i also uh aaron ross – is the other gentleman yeah aaron ross is the one that talks about uh when i, when he was on My podcast, i’m not even sure how much he talked about this, but he uh his his.
He has two books, both of which are great one.
He wrote with jason limpkin, it’s called impossible to inevitable.

That’s really focused on software, but the other one, predictable revenue is the one that kind of outlined for the first time, how to break up a sales team into their specialized role and how they, how they went about this at the company that he was leading.
That effort yeah, so that’s real! That’s that book is worth reading um his podcast is, you know a great way to get a summary of it and i would definitely listen to uh, so his name’s aaron ross and then uh joanne black yeah.
I definitely wrote those down i’m going to see if they are on audible or audiobooks.

So i can.
I can listen to them.
I i think my podcasts are audible, they’re they’re, on, like all the major platforms, spotify and uh yeah and uh, and you know itunes and everything yeah i’ll definitely be checking that out, and so should everyone listening um for sure, especially about you, know, predictable revenue and And how to manage those teams or segment your your sales team so that they can be specialized and if they’re specialized in one role, they actually are more productive because they get better at it.

And then they basically just transition the responsibility to the next person through the process.
That’s that’s amazing, so um just this, this episode’s going we’re almost an hour and but it’s been great, i mean this stuff is deep and i appreciate your time as we are on episode.

69 of the read method, insider podcast, on with stephen benson, and we were talking about how to lead sales teams in a time in times of economic crisis, and this stuff has just been.

You know very, very in-depth, and i appreciate um.

You know all your deep knowledge of sales, and you know this – is why you’re you’re a top guy for google in the world for crying out loud, so [, Laughter, ], um, so in terms of cost reduction.

Businesses are under pressure right now and to reduce cost, and we test on this a little bit.
So, in fact, you know, you’ll have whether it be owners and boards or ceos may be looking at high expenses and are saying to their marketing teams and their managers.
You know you need to reduce costs, so if you’re uh, if you’re a vp yourself of sales and you’re being told to reduce costs right now, uh, how would you approach that wow very timely question? Um yeah i mean so if i’m told to reduce costs and i’m the vp of sales uh.

First i’m gon na i’m gon na background.
I come from the perspective that sales people are the engine of revenue in an organization period.
So if revenue is important to an organization, sales is one of the last places to make a cut.

So you know if your ceo is coming to you and and really leaning on you as the vp of sales, to cut off your team, which i’m seeing a lot of right now.
You know with all you know.
Obviously, all of our customers are sales teams and so, like i’m, i’m i’m here.

I’ve we’ve about 20 of the teams that use badger have just stopped um, you know they’re, not they’re, not you know and every one of them says.
Oh we’re going to turn it on again in a few months once we’re once once the business gets back together but, like you know, if you’re selling beer to bars, there’s just nothing to do right now right, you can’t sell beer to bars because the bars are Closed so you know they just they’re they’re, stopping and they’re they’re, laying that they’re laying the whole team off and my i i think, that’s a.
I would really push back on that because you know revenue is important to this organization.

We don’t want to lose all our good sales and sales people, because the you know it’s just sale is one of the last places you should make a cut.
So that being said, you know um.
If you have to make cuts and if there there are weak links in your team and that’s that’s obviously the place that you look first, if you have to cut costs um, you know low performers that you probably eventually would have ended up letting go of anyway.

Newer reps that haven’t scaled up all the way and maybe or maybe reps that are early and not scaling the way you’d like them to um, but i i really would do this carefully from the bottom up um.
You know when you’re thinking about where the the weak links are in the team um, you know, i guess one thing to keep in mind is that the world has changed and it’s not a candidate’s market anymore.
You know it’s a buyer’s market, meaning as a as an employer.

It’s a buyer’s market, meaning that we’re coming off an economy of very low unemployment, where it was impossible basically to hire great sales talent right, all the ever olds out there already hired, hopefully, but but now you know that that now it’s a different world right, there’s High unemployment, where there’s lots of great reps out there who would love to to work at your company, so you know i i would be very careful to to you know you know push back when the ceo comes to your door, saying you know, let’s, let’s cut All the heads, because revenue is going to be important in three months – and you know business business – is going to come back here, so lean push back, uh push back pretty hard on that and and but at the same time it is not a terrible time to To uh, if you do have to cut those heads, if, if the gun is put to your head and don’t and you’re, told that you’ve got to get rid of it, then then then know that it is a buyer’s market and you will be able to.

Like start start start interviewing aggressively to get great people on your team when you do get the go ahead to scale the team back up again, because there are great reps out there um, i i know a ton of great reps out there that are that are Not that are no longer employed yeah and i’m seeing a lot of that pop up on linkedin too, where they’re you know their their titles are, you know, changed looking for opportunities or something like that, and i’ve actually been in communication with several reps through my marketing Uh team, uh and efforts and a lot of our potential prospects or general managers and vps of some of these uh dealerships are responding that they’re no longer there or they’ve been laid off or they’re.
You know whatever the case may be so uh that that’s certainly happening so um.

If we take this just a little bit deeper, and this is probably the final question because i can’t believe we’re an hour already on the show.
But this has been a very hard show.
I’m a talker, i’m sorry! No, but it’s it’s good talk.

What are you talking about? This is amazing.
You know i’m learning here as as we go, i mean i’ve made tons of notes here, stephen, so we have to go back and listen to what we said.
You know yeah so so the last question is um.

So if you’re asked to make deeper cuts – and you want to push for further uh for the company to need to make bigger changes, what is what, if the cuts you have, you know to go or deeper what, if the ceo comes to you and says well, Instead of doing 15, you need to cut 20 percent or another 20 percent.
How would you how would you handle that um, okay, uh yeah? I know this is a great point uh.
If, if you need to cut deeper um, you know – and you get the cost of your team down more and you’re down to people that you really really don’t want to cut and they’re great people on your team, i mean, i guess you have two choices.

One! You you fire some good people that you that you really don’t let go of or two which i think is the better choice.
You lower everyone’s salary across the board and there’s pros and cons to each of these they’re, both bad options um.
But let’s think about the first option right so firing people, you really don’t want to.

You know, and i don’t love this option because there’s so much uncertainty around when things are going to come back right now.

You know if you’re in an industry that you know you know, isn’t going to be able to pay people say you’re selling, airplane engines right, like you know, you’ve got it for a bunch of people um.
But but if you sell beer to bars and restaurants, you might feel uh in a real bad place right now, but things could turn the corner pretty quickly right.

So you know i’d much rather go with option two, even if things are seeming really bad right now.

Um, if you’re, you know, airplane engines aren’t gon na bounce back soon right, there’s a lot of extra planes around, but but i know right, um a buddy of mine’s looking at that right now, but the the uh, the you know, the classic business school wisdom.

You know with layoffs is if you’re going to do layoffs, do it all at once right like that’s by the book, because you know doing several rounds of layoffs, he destroys morale.
You know keeps people from being focused if they’re always looking over their shoulders, because the axe is coming their way right so um and then they they lots of rounds.
People started thinking.

Oh, you know i’m next, so i’ve got to start looking for other employment options and they spend their time doing that and they don’t you know, stop being performant so yeah, i that’s classic wisdom.
I i think that you might want to question that classic wisdom in these times uh and specifically with the sales team for a few reasons.

First, the covet economic crisis is different because you know there aren’t other jobs for people to look around for necessarily right now.

About Richie Bello

Richie Bello has a vast knowledge of the automotive industry, so most of his services are faced towards automotive dealerships. He couples all his skills with the power of the internet to render even remote services to clients in need of a little brushing

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