When Is a Good Time for Bad Sales News?
While dealing with bad news is never a fun part of the job for CEOs and Chief Sales Officers, it’s why you “make the big bucks”, right? When it comes to bad sales news, we also always prefer January challenges over December surprises. Most Boards of Directors will agree with that!
Let’s say you are one of those Sales Leaders who has done what we suggested and really scrubbed your sales pipeline. All the dead wood is gone and you’re left with a much more realistic, but painfully smaller list of opportunities to close. Now you have tell the CEO that your chances of hitting the first quarter sales target are much lower than you thought and the rest of the year is going to be an uphill climb. Resist the temptation to delay the conversation – and prepare yourself for the discussion with data and a plan.
Three Requirements for Dealing with Bad Sales News
Get Your Facts Straight – the First Time
Check and double check the important data on the remaining deals in your pipeline. Pay particular attention to close dates, values and probabilities. Your credibility is on the line here and any questionable information will cast a dark shadow of doubt over the entire situation.
Determining Exactly Where You Stand and Know the Impact
What is the best outcome the company can expect from the revised pipeline – and what is most likely. This is the time to rip the Band-Aid and get all the bad news out there. How many quarters will be impacted and to what degree? Don’t be defensive when answering questions about how this happened and be open to suggestions from the CEO and the rest of the Leadership team on ways to recover.
Have a Plan for Recovery
If you have not finalized your 2012 Sales Plan – NOW IS THE TIME! Come prepared to demonstrate how your sales team will rebuild the pipeline. Explain what resources and organization support will be needed to help the plan succeed. Prepare a budget of required investments in people and process. Be realistic about the expected timelines and results. This isn’t about setting up the diving catch at the goal line to win the game. It is about demonstrating that planning, process and execution are the way to permanent recovery.
Sales leadership is often about accepting reality the way it is, not the way you want it to be. It is also about accountability and transparency and this is the time of year to establish that with your CEO and the rest of the organization.