Get rid of your salesreps?

In April 1997, I spent my Easter holiday on the Red Sea and I met a Project Manager working for Informix in France. In January 1997, Informix threw an amazing party to celebrate the historical results of last quarter of 1996 and spend money as much as it was possible during these days.I mean an indecent amount! 3 months later, the first quarter of 1997 was bad and the entire sales team was fired. I already warned my new friend that he had to enjoy his vacation, because next week he could also be fired! Because without salesreps, the revenue will most likely decrease and so the necessity of a Project Manager… He laughed but was not fully relaxed. He did not encounter a bad surprise the week after  he returned working, but it eventually happened one month later. He thanked me, because he felt he was prepared for the bad news.

I remembered this story because a few days ago a customer shared the idea with me of restructuring the sales team and firing some people. We agreed that if you want to increase sales you need to hire new sales professionals. Although, for many CFO/CEO’s, there is no correlation in the decline of the revenue and the reduction of the sales team… What a strange analysis! I think that they are used to manage figures and they expect a certain inertia in turnover and believe that the result will remain the same; even if they fired 20% of the sales resources.

Let’s look at the reality and not the Excel sheet. Let’s imagine that you were a salesrep at Belgacom and now you are working for the competition: Mobistar or Base. There is a big chance that some of your customers will follow you if possible. You know your customers. You know their contract. You know the end of their contract. It is easy to target the right customer with the right offer at the right moment to make him change. There is no magic trick in this situation.

When you are in a relationship business, pay attention that your customers are not more loyal to your Account Manager rather than your company. So, my dear colleagues, before you take a fatal decision, think twice if you want to profit from summer holidays to get rid of your salesreps!