Therefore, it's wise to ÍÕ
(L) this Slump over before
creating a knee jerk reaction to a headache that may belong
only to other companies and never yours -- today as well as
The first task is obviously to assess the situation. As
important as this is financially, it's equally important for
a non-financial reasons: To immediately and accurately
communicate the company's status to its employees.
Employees talk. In the absence of facts they speculate.
And in their speculation, they start rumors which serve to
validate their anxiety which the lack of facts initally
created. Rumors croak productivity and decaying productivity
creates its own ÐÕ
. For certain, nothing oozes more PUS
than a sales force infected with skepticism.
So, whether a company is affected or not, it's time to
crank out the house organs with charts that compare us-
versus-them; with discussions of the key indicators that
elucidate the charts' characteristics; and with plans for
coping with the situation. There is no one gesture that is
more beneficial to both the company and its employees than an
up-front, internal relations campaign. Contrary to the
notion that doing the above is defensive, the opposing
silence is ominously evasive.
Nothing cures rumors faster than a dose of the truth.
If the company is above the slump, it creates confidence,
dispels worry and most importantly annihilates demoralizing
excuse-making by those who find it convenient to seek refuge
in such commisserating, i.e the marginal salesperson,
staffer, and manager. Then again if the company is in the
slump trough or below it, the factual charts provide a
benchmark for measuring improvement while putting all on
notice for that improvement.
Since the focus of this column is on sales and
marketing, ÍÐ stands for Íarketing Ðolice; but in a broader
sense it could equate to management police.
The core policing action takes two forms: The first
addresses the quality and quantity of the selling effort.
The second addresses the cost and feasiblity of the first.
The prime rule of the military is to control the
battlefield. My corollary is to know where the battlefield
is. Though, this sounds ridiculously simple, it isn't. Lack
of agreement regarding the agents offending profits is very
The next step is to know what resources are necessary to
control the battle... and obviously which are available to be
used. In tight times many resources may not be available.
Those that are -- both internally and externally -- must give
a 100% Ð
piring function is one putting fairness and
balance into the policing action.
Whipping a sales force isn't very fair if there is
little it can do to affect improvement in the marketplace;
and vice versa with all the various marketing departments.
Neither is there much balance to across-the-board cuts.
A-T-B cuts are the antithesis of target marketing, or target
anything. Just as there are preferred market segments in
good times there should be more select segments during
difficult times. 80/20 rules and the like do exist. And it
is possible to capitalize on the them by focusing on their
attainment. Policing sales efficiency is the conerstone to
Don't immediately cut advertising/pr budgets without
first directing them towards the newly selected segments.
However, do cut sales commissions on the undesired segments
and do increase them on sales to the selected segments. Etc.,
There's nothing new here. But how often a slick
sounding "operation", like "Operation Turnabout", is created
only to die after the initial speeches, puffery and optimism
because there was not adequate focus, feedback and incentives
to sustain its life.
total of this article is that The Slump, while
not anyone's cup of tea, offers some ÐÌ
whether a company
is affected by it or not. Most importantly, it creates an
environment in which most everyone's attention is really
riveted on the well being of the company -- if for no other
reason than personal selfishness. This provides the theater
in which to heighten corporate communications; re-evaluate
exisiting market segments, advertising/pr budgets, sales
compensation plans etc... all while seeking opportunities
outside the corporations traditional boundaries. In good
times, this all seems so marginal or rock-the-boatish, that
if done it is often too cautiously approached to be
So in a very ironic way, slumps, which threaten to dash
a company back to its shakey origins, provide the environment
beforehand to more gentley make the company reflect back to
the original spirit and vitality which nurtured its initial
growth. In short, slumps teach a company about its own
survival. And that's the ÐÌ