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How to Beat the Competition and Exceed Your Goals When Business Slumps
By Rick A Conlow

Bill works for a manufacturing company as VP of Sales. His company has new competition that is giving customers aggressive price reductions that is robbing them of key accounts. After analyzing the situation and implementing a plan, they cut some of their losses, but business is still well below last year. His job is now in jeopardy.

June is an EVP of Operations for a retail company. She needs to improve same store sales. She executed two strategies: marketing aggressive price roll backs and renewing their customer service efforts. After a few months results are still negative. The rumor mill hinted at needing a change in leadership.

These kinds of scenarios happen every day in business. The unfortunate reality is, according to change masters, 75% of efforts by managers to change in challenging situations-fail. Why? Primarily because the focus on the mechanics of the change: price, product, processes. They forget or neglect the people.

A one hundred year old business to business services company wanted to improve sales to existing customers. They needed to increase sales to combat a global competitor who bought business with low prices and rebates. They contracted with an outside partner to help them. After determining the challenge and reviewing the situation they hoped to achieve a 15% gain. However, after implementing their plan late first quarter of the year, their results soared by 75%.

This company did three things that were remarkably different from the other two situations. In addition, they made no price adjustments, they improved product availability and they streamlined a couple of work processes.

First, they kept their teams informed about the challenge, and included them in their planning process. Top management had their strategic discussions but so did the departments and employees involved. Through planning meetings, confidential surveys and brainstorming sessions everyone had participation to address their concerns and to give their input. The final plan and action steps were communicated to everyone in a series of training meetings. With a company goal established, each manager and employee partnered to create their individual growth goals to relate to a short-term company incentive. Tracking tools were put in place so everyone knew results on a daily basis. This included local office results, all location results and overall company results.

Second, an upgraded sales and service training program was implemented. Field managers attended "train-the-trainer" session and were responsible for conducting weekly training meetings with their teams. Tracking metrics were established. District leaders attended the meetings during their location visits. They coached the leadership based on their results and gave feedback on the quality of training presentations.

Third, an aggressive coaching program was engaged. The truth was everyone is busy and has many priorities and potential distractions. To reach or exceed their goal higher performance was a necessity. There had to be a daily sense of urgency. Managers were trained how to coach their teams in a weekly formal setting, and how to coach informally on a daily basis. Managers were supported with various coaching tools to ensure their follow through and success. As stated earlier the results were outstanding.

No sales leadership strategy is 100% fool-proof. Yet, there are basic strategies that are proven and work more often than not in any setting. Any manager can replicate these results with some guidance and support. Leaders and managers who focus on what their people need to succeed, in addition to the operational issues of the business often find a recipe for success that will beat the competition time and again.

By the way, do you want to learn how help others learn to sell more effectively? If so, download our free sales guide:

Or, do you want a proven gameplan for leadership effectiveness? If so, check out Rick's new book,

Rick Conlow is the CEO/Co-Founder of WCW Partners, a global management consulting and training firm. Rick has helped organizations increase sales 218%, improve repeat-and-referral business by 20%, increase customer retention to 99%, reduce complaints by 60% and achieve 34 quality awards. You can reach Rick at: or 888-313-0514.

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