You’re a business development and sales leader and you’ve just heard from the CFO that your company is facing headwinds and every section needs to control costs immediately. You get with your team to discuss where to cut. Do you aim for the usual suspects, the easy ones? If you reduce the following four categories, you might instead be reducing your top line, rather than controlling your bottom line.
- Cutting Travel
Travel is invariably the biggest target in the “squeeze the budget” drill. Many people across your organization don’t understand why salespeople need to travel so much. Why should you get to spend all that money on airplanes, hotels and rent cars just to have a few minutes with customers? Wouldn’t it be better and cheaper to just text, email or call them? Maybe a videoconference? The answer is no. Because people buy from people they trust, there’s no substitute for periodic face-to-face meetings. And if you’re not regularly seeing your customer, someone else is.
- Cutting Training
This is an obvious target for cost-cutters (except in companies where training budgets are very low and that’s another conversation altogether). Of course, you can’t cut the mandated compliance training because you could get in legal trouble. So, you cut the sales training, the capturing new business programs, the competitive intelligence sessions, the positioning-to-win courses and the customer relations sessions – the very things needed to impart skills vital to generating sales and orders. You keep the “what not to do” skills and sacrifice the “what to do” skills.
- Cutting Conferences
I know of a business group in a large corporation that had too many separate BD conferences. So they combined them all into one big conference to save money. It was held every winter in Florida when airfares and hotel rates were low and the business cycle was slow. Expert speakers were brought in and informative seminars and networking sessions were held. Per capita, it was very cost-effective and resulted in many lucrative cross-selling initiatives. Plus, it was fun. Then it was cut and all the BD connective tissue began to come apart. That business group was never the same again and was eventually sold off. You can have too many conferences, but you also can have too few.
- Cutting Celebrations
Because business development and sales are in the people business, morale is important. How a salesperson feels about his or her group affects just about everything. Your group worked night and day for a really long time to pull in a big contract. Despite a bruising competition and seemingly endless challenges, your team won. Then your boss, who was ordered to control costs, rejects the suggestion of a victory celebration. Instead, you and your team get an email asking you to keep up the good work, especially on the next big project coming up. That’s inspiring. It inspires you to go onto your LinkedIn account and start looking for another job.