Growing up, I was raised by an optimist and a pessimist. My Mom was probably the happiest, funniest, friendliest person you could ever meet. She ensured that I was raised with an abundant mindset, wishing nothing but good for everybody and doing my best to help people. As I started to learn and mature, I asked her why she was helping some people she did not like, and her response was simple:
Matt everybody can be better off and helping them helps the community. Remember “a rising tide lifts all boats”. Little did I know that her message was the big message I would pick up studying economics later as I attended college. Once again I learned that when it comes to the economy, when things are good “a rising tide lifts all boats.”Mrs. Nettleton
The boom years of the ’90s proved my Mom and my economics professors were both geniuses. For many years, a rising economic tide did raise everybody’s boat. For most small businesses, those years were excellent; buyers were abundant, profits were comfortable, and with some effort, it was pretty simple to get out and find ready, willing, and able prospects to grow your revenue.
Last year, the other half of my parents’ messages started to make sense. My Dad is a great guy, but unlike my Mom, he was pretty good at keeping his mind focused on the downside of what was happening. His message to me was a little different. He told me:
Even dead fish float.Mr. Nettleton
He meant that when the tide rises, everything moves up, but not everything is a boat. His point was straightforward: bad economies do not create weakness; bad economies expose weakness.
We have been learning to live with my Dad’s message for the past few years. And by we, I mean the American economy. We have seen a vast number of businesses that made terrible decisions. And when times were easy those decisions looked fine, there were no real problems or consequences for the bad choices. But as soon as we hit a bump in the road, those consequences were exposed, and all too often, that exposure has led to catastrophic failure.
As a sales trainer, I spend my days working with business owners who are seeing a whole new side of their business. The salespeople they thought were great turned out to be doing nothing more than riding the tide of a few key clients who were growing. The salespeople willing to cut a little price in the good times are getting killed now that they have nothing to fall back on other than price cutting.
Those salespeople who did not consistently prospect have watched their sales volume collapse now that competitors are poaching their accounts. A few years ago these weaknesses may not have mattered, the economy was strong, buyers were plentiful and margins were healthy. The economy was growing, and weak sales processes and the wrong sales teams were problems, but they were not big enough issues to fix.
Today it is different, your business is being held hostage. Your sales team is in control of your future, and unless you know, they are working from the right strategy, in the right structure, and have the right skills, even the recovery will be a challenge.