The Next Economic Crisis will Eliminate 85% of Salespeople

Sales & Motivation No Comments

I have a prediction, and I’m pretty good at predictions, from American Pharoah to the Cubs, so here’s my latest: only the top 15% of salespeople will survive the next economic upheaval. Whether it’s a significant stock market correction, a tragic world event, or another financial crisis similar to that of 2008, the next calamity that shakes the economy and causes U.S. companies to tighten their belts once again, will leave 85% of salespeople in its wake. If you’re in the 15%, that’s great news, if you’re in the 85%, it’s a warning and hopefully a wake-up call.

Here’s the logic behind the prediction: The biggest issue I see in the workplace is a lack of accountability. This has been true for decades when it comes to sales teams, Realtors, financial planners, insurance agents, and anyone else whose primary role is to bring dollars into an organization. Many organizations let mediocre and poor salespeople continue to stay on the payroll and take more money out than they bring in while also causing negativity, problems, headaches, and morale issues across the organization. The next economic correction will leave companies unable to continue to support this dead weight. The correction will force them to be hyper sensitive to where they are spending money along with the ROI on that money and, just as with a ship about to go down in a storm, anything not vital to operating or keeping it afloat, will be jettisoned overboard. Couple this with the fact that technology is already rendering mediocre and poor salespeople obsolete and you have a perfect storm which will eliminate most salespeople.

The point of this article is not to be negative, it’s to address reality. We all know the economy, the stock market, real estate, and pretty much everything else, including your waistline, go in cycles and we’ve been riding a pretty good wave for quite a while. We also know that each hiccup in the economy causes further scrutiny of expenses and the bottom line. But whether the next economic storm comes in a week, or five years from now, you want to make sure you fall on the right side of the numbers. In other words, make sure you find yourself in the 15%. After all, even if I’m wrong, the top 15% is the place to be. The 15% is where the money is, it’s where job security is, and it’s where peace of mind is along with all your hopes and dreams. If you’re at the top, you no longer have to dread Monday and sit with a knot in your stomach on Sunday.

So if you’re leading a team of salespeople and you want to protect them, the best way to do it is to make sure they have the one attribute of the top 15%: they earn their keep. They can validate their existence based upon the amount of good business they are bringing in. As a sales leader you need to hire attitude and work ethic and watch activity. Set expectations and hold people accountable to those expectations. Provide sales skills and product training and know how to motivate each individual. Finally, provide a positive environment and give them the tools and support to do their job.

If you’re a salesperson… producer, financial planner, Realtor, or whatever title you hide behind, begin by taking complete responsibility for success or failure. It isn’t the market, your boss, or your pricing structure that determines success, it’s you, specifically your activity, sales skills, and ability to influence others. Also realize that while your employer should train you, most fall short… way short, especially when it comes to sales skills training. Ultimately it’s up to you to develop yourself personally and professionally. The best way to do this is to set personal and professional goals and then get busy achieving them. Start with your income goal for the year and then calculate your daily activity. How many sales do you need to make to hit your goal? How many proposals, how many prospects, and how many calls do you need to make? Next, make that many calls and more. Also, make sure you are sufficiently motivated and educated. You’ve got to use whatever external, intrinsic, and peer motivation you need to in order to do the activities necessary for success. From an education standpoint, you have to be educated on your product, the industry you’re selling to, sales skills, people, and effective communication.

From a personal development standpoint, understand that the better you feel mentally and physically, the better you’ll perform. If you’re not getting enough sleep, not eating right, abusing alcohol or drugs, have physical or mental issues you’re not addressing, hanging out in the wrong places with the wrong people, focusing on the negatives, or otherwise not taking care of yourself, it’s going to affect your sales results, probably significantly.

The message of this article is: be ready for the next correction because it’s coming… sometime. When it happens, organizations will have to run lean. They will no longer be able to afford to carry that a salespeople who are simply along for the ride. There will be a massive thinning of the herd, a survival of the fittest. The salespeople who survive will be the ones who first: are clearly assets versus liabilities and second: able to show that they are far more valuable than the information that is now readily available to prospects and customers via the internet and other sources. Yes, salespeople will still be needed, but only the experts who are out selling. Only those that can separate the valid information from the misinformation, decipher what’s left, and get in front of people and solve their problems.

Yes, this is still the land of opportunity where anyone, regardless of race, gender, or religion, can make it. Whatever issues you have, someone’s had it worse and overcome it. So if you’re in the 15%, keep getting better, and if you’re not, get out of your way and get to work while there’s still time.

John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker and trainer. For his free newsletter, or to have him speak at your next event, go to:  John has over 29 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia. You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place. E-mail: