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Recession proof sales department - Prima Resource

When the economy’s doing well, business tends to do well. In turn, this reality influences the behavior and decisions of business leaders who, unfortunately, may take easier paths and don’t make the necessary difficult decisions.

Complacency’s the worst enemy for a sales organization. It’s the enemy for anyone who wants to perform.

Why a good economy hurts businesses

Here are some of the harmful behaviours adopted by executives who achieve their sales objectives:

1. Sales leaders stop raising the bar

When things go well, many sales leaders are satisfied with the current situation. They stop raising standards and demanding more from their team.

However, without a certain level of expectations from their boss, salespeople can quickly get bogged down by complacency. Constantly raising standards is one of the roles of the sales manager. This behavior is what makes the difference between good sales results and exceptional ones.

In sales management, consistency is essential and requires constant involvement, during good times and bad ones.

2. Sales leaders have a higher tolerance for excuses

Suddenly, excuses start being common. Managers become more permissive, more “friendly” with their team. Rather than cutting short the various reasons given for mistakes, they accept the possibility that the problem may resolve itself over time.

No matter how good things are, sales excuses don’t have their place. Otherwise, representatives will jump on the opportunity to avoid having to take responsibility for their actions. This behavior partly explains why 60% of the sales forces are hindered by sales representatives’ excuses (Objective Management Group data).

It’s not a service to the sales team to be too tolerant.

3. Sales leaders become too patient

Sales leaders lose the sense of urgency when their team continuously meets their objectives. They loosen up and tolerate underperforming players much longer. They give more chances to recover and provide more leeway.

Managers shouldn’t let the team get distracted, but rather encourage them to stay the course. Continuous recruitment makes it possible to maintain an adequate turnover rate to avoid complacency and ensures that the sales force’s level of competence grows.

4. Sales leaders get satisfied with the prospecting activities

Managers are okay with their representatives who aren’t as diligent or regular in their LinkedIn prospecting and other efforts. However, for continuous growth, regardless of external factors such as the economy, it is never enough to be satisfied with the team’s current level of activity.

Prospecting problems often hide a low willingness to sell or gaps in their sales DNA. Sales leaders need to address those problems before the economy takes a hit.

One argument I often hear from lax sales leaders is that they don’t want to be pessimistic. They fear that imposing rigour will negatively affect the team. On the contrary, it’s part of a strong sales culture and, if the pressure is realistic and well balanced, its effects can only be positive.

Constant efforts reward representatives and managers

By ensuring that activities are running smoothly, managers not only contribute to improving the team’s performance but also to ensuring that salespeople meet their psychological needs.

Indeed, the representatives who achieve their objectives fill to the fundamental need for self-actualization, which is at the top of Maslow’s pyramid.

Increasingly, there is more and more talk of an additional level to the pyramid, namely surpassing oneself. Improving is a way to push your limits and outdo yourself. For the salesperson who likes what he/she does, a certain amount of pressure will even become a source of motivation.

Of course, making efforts generates some discomfort, especially in periods of success when you might think they aren’t necessary. Sales managers should keep in mind that this discomfort is temporary and will be rewarded by exceeding objectives, but also by a deep satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.


When sales are doing well, some executives see it as a relief and take the opportunity to drop their expectations and “give their sales force a break.” Managers and representatives then get comfortable.

A true leader goes beyond his or her own need for comfort to bring the team to surpass themselves. The leader’s will to succeed, and component of the sales DNA, are just as crucial to his or her approach. Are sales going well today? Great! Now it’s time to exceed expectations.

Think about the future: “What will it cost your organization tomorrow to choose comfort today?”