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Recession Rx: Start with Sales Management

John Haskell (aka Dr. Revenue®) | B2B contributors ment level. Begin by asking yourself three questions, and then con- ed by your own sales force can reveal vital information. But, even
sider the methodology behind them: better, a survey done by a professional interviewing company by
The news is overflowing with stories of failing businesses. A near- phone or in person will reveal even more.
ly 100-year-old company has decided to close its doors. The current Question #1: Is the Sales Manager managing the
owners, fourth-generation brothers, blame “the economy.” Howev- sales force aggressively? Get your information from the people who count.
er, their great-grandfather survived the crash of ’29 and the Great Having an aggressive sales manager is important because In most businesses the number of customers who actually make
Depression, and dad survived the craziness of the ’60s. But, they aggressive, smart leadership motivates and inspires sales people a difference is very small. If you have 20 sales territories, there are
decide to give up. in tough times. If your sales manager has not been acknowledged probably fewer than 20 customers in each territory who contribute
When times get tough, the first place to seek answers is within the as a really aggressive personality who manages every element the bulk of that territory’s sales. Why not survey the top five in each
sales team. When looking at the sales force, start at the manage- related to the sales force, how can your business survive in this territory? You will be surprised how much you learn and how fast.
tough environment?
In a tough economy, there is a real premium on efficien- Question #3: Would you bet your life on your sales
cy. Your sales manager must impact the way your field manager? (You are!!!)
salespeople work with customers. In most cases, call The sales manager is often times your point person for recession
reports are more fiction than fact. The key is to get your survival, so it’s important you trust them with your life – and your
salespeople to create a “Call Guide” to organize, drive and income! Now is the time to review the sales manager's performance,
support their sales efforts. in writing and in-depth. This is not an exercise tied to a compensa-
tion review; in fact, compensation should not be a part of this
Question #2: Is the sales manager working with review at all.
a well developed sales and marketing plan to The person who manages, drives and controls the producers must
drive his team’s efforts into “crash mode”? be up to the task. The best way to assure that he or she is with you
Moving into “crash mode” is the first step to surviving the through thick and thin is to analyze skills, organization and results
recession, and the key here is to identify ways to find and now and every 30 days from now on. This may sound like micro-
close business quickly and effectively. A written marketing management, and to be honest, it is! Salespeople hate paperwork.
and sales plan is vital. Without a well-conceived and well- Salespeople hate accountability. Salespeople hate to be criticized.
supported plan, the sales force is working with one hand Salespeople hate to be managed. Micro management is the only way
tied behind their backs. to guarantee your company’s success.
The sales manager should create a “book” for every ter- If you are a leader of your company, the Rx to survive the reces-
ritory. The sales manager must proactively drive the devel- sion is to get yourself into the middle of the sales and marketing sit-
opment of individual customer plans to achieve the sales uation now, and stay there!
goals. Salespeople have to be trained to use their sales tools.
John Haskell, aka Dr. Revenue®, is a Professional
Benchmark now for future growth and success. Speaker, Seminar Leader and Marketing and Sales
Top management and in-the-trenches marketing and Consultant. As a former CEO/COO of divisions of
sales management need benchmarks. However, most small Fortune 500 companies and as President of The Pro-
and mid-size companies cannot afford big, sophisticated, fessional Marketing Group, Inc., he consistently
expensive studies. The good news is that these big, expen- demonstrates the value of written marketing and
sive and slow-to-obtain studies are useless, and simple, fast, sales planning. Please visit or e-
benchmark analysis is available. A simple survey conduct- mail

Business Plans are Nothing … Business Planning is Everything

John Baker | B2B contributor “hoped for.” Someone reading this section of the plan should, with important, but non-essential objectives. After reading this section of
clarity, understand the strengths and weaknesses of the business, and the plan, the reader should know not only what keeps the leaders of
Dwight Eisenhower, when contemplating the Herculean effort to have a sense of the company’s potential given the current reality. the business up at night (i.e. achieving their imperatives), but also
plan for Operation Overlord (the code name for the invasion of Nor- Hint: The best way to lose any enthusiasm in your business plan what lengths they are willing to go to for a good night’s sleep.
mandy and northwest Europe during WWII) said, “Plans are noth- is to make this section a complex, statistical death by numbers Hint: Want to break down organizational silos? Make sure each
ing. Planning is everything.” His considered view was that while dissertation. Readers care nothing about your plunging ROI, but employee knows where his or her job fits within the critical path
both are necessary, plans by their very nature are nothing but stat- care intensely about what that means to your business. Use only outlined in this section. If not, he or she is not fully a part of the
ic documents, yet planning is a responsive and dynamic action that those financial matrices – pick three to five – that truly explain team.
brings focus to uncertainty. how your business is performing. Are we on track? The plan needs to define what success looks
In business, planning is just as vital, especially when things are like and how it is measured. The plan should clearly define who is
Where are we going? The plan should spell out the intentions for
rapidly changing and the economy seems to be in constant flux. accountable for which measure, when measurements will be taken
the business in the coming years; what does the organization want
With the market in less-than-perfect shape and so much uncertain- (i.e. monthly, quarterly, etc.) and the corrective actions to be taken
to accomplish? This section of the plan is a statement of business
ty in the air, many business leaders forego the discipline of estab- in the event of a deviation from plan. The best business plans are
aspiration, balanced by the reality set forth in section one of the
lishing a business plan under the assumption that it is a waste of evergreen; they are constantly referenced and regularly amended.
plan. This section of the plan allows the reader to understand the
time. The most essential reason to write a business plan isn’t to set You should understand how success is defined and measured.
potential of the business in three ways:
a course of action, but to provide a management tool to use in the
present, as well as the future. Financially: Why should one invest in us? John Baker is author of the newly-released book,
Business planning is fraught with misconceptions; the biggest is Externally: Why should clients and prospects do businesses with us? “READY Thinking – Primed For Change.” As a lead-
assuming that the planning process needs to be complicated and Internally: Why should employees work here? ership expert, speaker and founder of READY Think-
burdensome. A sound business plan only needs to address four Hint: Abstract vision statements are as credible as Britney ing, LLC, John has helped hundreds of organizations
questions: Spears speaking at a parenting conference. The best plans are achieve success by adopting a practical framework of
Where are we? The plan should clearly define the financial, envi- insightful because they balance bold market aspirations with thinking during times of change and opportunity.
ronmental and market realities facing the business. This should not commonsense business acumen. He has over 20 years experience as a senior execu-
be addressed in the overly technical language of an MBA, but rather How will we get there? The plan should set forth the imperatives tive with companies including American Express and Ameriprise
with straightforward words that uncompromisingly define the busi- of the business; the tasks that are absolutely non-negotiable in Financial, specializing in sales, client loyalty and customer service.
ness’ health and competitive position. It is imperative that the plan terms of achieving success. By definition, this section not only For more information, e-mail or
has its foundation in what is real, not something once assumed or defines a critical path for the business, but it also identifies the visit

U.S. Institutional Investors Boost Ownership of U.S. Corporations to New Highs,

Reports The Conference Board
Pension Funds Make Growing Investments in Hedge Funds
Dr. Carolyn Kay Brancato and Stephan Rabimov | B2B contributors ance companies, banks and foundations – controlled assets totaling ed to have been managed by about 10,000 hedge funds worldwide.
$27.1 trillion, up from $24.4 trillion in 2005. Their 2006 level rep- This represents an increase of 23.6 percent in hedge fund assets
Institutional investors have, once again, topped their previous resents a ten-fold increase from $2.7 trillion in 1980. and 5.8 percent growth in the number of funds since 2006. Of these,
record ownership levels in the largest 1,000 U.S. corporations, The The equity market value of total institutional equity holdings more than half are domiciled in the United States.
Conference Board reports today in the latest edition of its Institu- increased from $571.2 billion in 1980 (or 37.2 percent of total U.S. Based on an analysis of data from Pensions & Investments, the
tional Investment Report. equity markets) to $12.9 trillion (or 66.3 percent of total U.S. equi- report also finds more and more pension funds are investing in
Data on institutional investor ownership in the largest 1,000 U.S. ty markets) in 2006. This represents a historic all-time high in the hedge funds. As of September 30, 2007, 62 out of the largest 200
corporations show that institutions have substantially and consis- amount of total U.S. equities controlled by these institutional
defined benefit pension plans invested in hedge funds compared
tently increased their holdings from 1987 with an average of 46.6 investors.
with only 48 the year before. The majority are “public” state and
percent of total stock to an average of 61.4 percent of total stock by Pension funds continue to account for the largest block of insti-
local funds; of the 62 funds investing in hedge funds in 2007, 37 are
2000 and then rising to an unprecedented 76.4 percent of corpora- tutional investor assets, with $10.4 trillion or 38.3 percent of total
state and local or “public” pension funds (which invested $59.6 bil-
tions by year-end 2007. Concentration of ownership in the largest 2006 assets under management. Within the pension fund category,
25 companies also tops all previous data when measured by the lion out of a total $76.3 billion for all funds) while 25 are corporate
state and local pension funds – which tend to be the most activist
numbers of companies that have the largest institutional owner- in terms of exerting corporate governance pressures on companies pension funds (which invested $16.7 billion out of a total $76.3 bil-
ship. For example; In 1985, no company had institutional owner- – have grown more rapidly than other types of pension funds such lion for all funds).
ship of 60 percent or above, but by 2007, 17 companies had insti- as corporate pension funds.
tutional ownership of 60 percent or above, including six with insti- The Conference Board operates as a global independent mem-
tutional ownership of 70 percent or above. Pension Funds Make Growing Investments in Hedge bership organization working in the public interest. For addition-
Latest available year-end 2006 data show that total institutional Funds al information about The Conference Board and how it can meet
investors – defined as pension funds, investment companies, insur- As of September 2007, some $1.8 trillion in assets was estimat- your needs, visit our website at

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