Direct Marketing Article
OVERCOMING THE FEAR FACTOR: THE KEY TO
MOTIVATING YOUR SALES STAFF
By Dirk Gorman
The economic recession is forcing businesses to rethink their strategies and
retool their processes as they operate in worsening, ever changing
conditions. In the midst of this uncertainty, most businesses overlook how
fear, and the lack of a clear plan to reduce it, impacts their employees.
The fear epidemic perpetuated by the financial markets, government and
negative media coverage is a deliberate assault on our very nature and must
be reversed. The constraints of fear without answers are the catalyst for
inaction. Without solutions, denial sets in as people either begin to think
they will not be affected, or simply feel hopeless. Either way, inaction
takes place as the body experiences sensory overload. The adage "stopped in
your tracks" holds true here just as a mouse in a maze becomes immobile with
no options for escape.
The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is Fear Without A Plan
Once fear is accepted as reality it takes rare and powerful leadership to
reverse it. The upside of fear is that it can be harnessed and used as a
powerful motivator to bring people to act. Therefore leaders must have a
clear, viable plan to minimize tension and take bold action now to challenge
and reduce the fear. Corporate leaders can rise to this unique challenge and
transform it into opportunity. Revising FDR's famous quote to take human
nature into account, "The only thing we have to fear is fear without a
Reinvest to Renew Confidence
Success starts with re-investment and a renewed confidence, demonstrated
simultaneously. Layoffs have never been in the equation for growth or long
term success. One critical way for business leaders to reverse the trend of
fear mongering without solutions is to focus on business development.
Nothing happens in the economic world until money is exchanged and that
occurs once a sale is made. There are currently phenomenal opportunities to
aggressively acquire unclaimed and available talent.
1. Allocate your resources to build the best sales force in your industry
and start making sales. Upgrade your sales force through skills development
and headcount. This sends a very strong message to the organization. It
demonstrates that you are proactively focusing on your company's future to
which the sales force is so vital.
• Always be optimistic: Sales people are emotional and must stay optimistic
and confident to sell effectively. Pessimism only sells newspapers, not
products or services.
• Reverse the trend: In good times, ride your sales force hard demanding
more and more. In tough times, the reverse is necessary. Re-educate,
re-train and console to build confidence not tear it down.
• Develop competencies: Ensure your sales force has adaptable skills to
produce in this changing market. For example, if they no longer had access
to sell in person, could they begin selling over the phone?
• Solidify your sales force: Uncertainty clouds progress. It's critical to
ensure these improvements produce top performance levels and reduce
2. Let your veteran force know the talent and backgrounds of the people you
are bringing in. This should inspire them. If tenured employees are
paralyzed or jealous about new talent being added to the team, they may be
another case of "tough times" exposing those who don't have the drive to
take advantage of the current circumstances. They will weed themselves out.
3. Communicate clearly and regularly to your sales team that the down
economy is an opportunity for success. Though far from an ideal business
environment, the recession still offers a rare opportunity for achievement
that your sales team may never have again. This is a time to dominate and
gain market share. Make your message clear so people recognize this
challenge as an opportunity for growth.
Do not panic: Management cannot show signs of pressing the panic button;
otherwise you are in jeopardy of not only losing your best sales people but
also removing their effectiveness as a sales person.
Reaffirm your vision: Sales people cannot doubt the vision and company
direction. They must know it and trust it. They must be spoken to directly
and allowed to express concerns. Address all concerns letting them know
what, how and why certain actions are being taken.
Be direct and honest: If layoffs must happen, they cannot occur in waves, it
must be swift, quick, and final. Nothing demoralizes a group more then to
wait and anticipate when the ax will fall on them next.
While there are no guarantees in business, these three steps will instill
confidence in your sales force and harness their fear to act and produce to
About the Author:
Dirk Gorman's expertise is in building successful sales organizations in the
B-to-B space. He is founding partner of Empire Surgical,
www.empiresurgical.com, a multi-faceted sales solutions company and
exclusive distributor of Depuy Mitek, a leading Johnson & Johnson sports
medical device company.