How to Side-step a Lay-off

We may be in the worst economic climate in the history of the world.  Corona virus has wreaked havoc on corporate wallets, and as such, investments in software are becoming more rare every day.  Tech companies are responding accordingly – layoffs.  Salesforce, a market behemoth just marked its best quarter ever, clocking $5 billion of quarterly SaaS sales…and on the same day as their epic quarter announced a 1,000 person layoff.  This was just 5 months after their eccentric CEO and founder Marc Benioff pledged a no layoff charge to the industry for 90 days.  We are in uncertain times.

I recently had to make cuts to my team as well.  Want to know how sales leaders make these difficult decisions?  Here is a list of unbecoming attributes of sellers that can lead to making a cut-list:

  1.  You’re the antagonist of your boss’s cabinet.  Early in my career I was demoted. I remember going to my boss on an airplane where he gave me the bad news, and after asking him why, he recounted how many times I pushed back on his directives.  Some boss’s like challengers, a vast majority don’t.
  2. You’re a lone wolf.  Software sales is hard.  Many decisions that a seller makes, it will be unclear whether they were good ones until the end of an evaluation cycle.  Leaders want to see their sellers engaging multiple people as much as possible to help with these difficult decisions.  Use a multi-headed sales approach, and you’ll be  better perceived by your team and win more business.
  3. You’re slow to turn in your homework.  Much of what makes software sales hard is how many things out of your control.  What is in your control is the ability to meet easy deadlines that your boss gives around the administration side of the business. Update your notes in your CRM tool, put together the spreadsheet she asks for the last-minute fire drill.  Not hard.  Do it.
  4. Lack accountability.  Many sellers always have an excuse for bad outcomes. Great sellers take the fall…even when it isn’t their fault.  When hearts and minds by being humble and taking the blame for things that are your fault and often times for the things that are not.
  5. Laziness.  Even top performance in a given quarter or a couple quarters does not exclude you from a layoff.  I just released one rep on my team who was leading the pack for the fiscal year!  Great sales leaders can decipher between luck and talent.  I say this often – poor work ethic will sooner or later find you out.

Every time I have been forced to make a cut, one thing is constant…the surprise of the person being cut.  Take a moment to self-reflect and make sure you’re doing every thing in your control to sell as much software as you can.  When you’re truly honest with yourself, you will be in position to begin your journey of excellence!

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