Covid19 – Why You Shouldn’t Furlough Your Sales People

by Tim Hughes from DLA ignite| @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

A friend of mine, in sales has just contacted me, he’s been furloughed.

I’m totally baffled why a company would do this, as I am, why a company has furloughed a marketing friend of mine.

Sales and Marketing is the engine room of a company and like the companies that have cut spending on marketing, going invisible to your clients is not a great idea.

All of jump to conclusions and if you go invisible, then what other conclusion can we jump too? You are struggling. You are going out of business. I will place my business with the companies that are visible. Of course. 

But you would expect me to say that, no surprises there.

I asked my sales friend, why they hadn’t decided to pivot as a business? He didn’t know and offered some suggestions as how they could pivot.

Just want to let that sink in. Here was a company that didn’t know how to pivot, but a sales person who had just been furloughed had ideas on what the company could do.

Famous Pivot

One of the great success stories of a company pivot is Slack. The original company was set up to write computer games. The computer game they decided to write was not about shooting people, war or fast car racing, it was about being nice to people, co-operating with people and building communities.

It failed. No body was interested.

That company was built up from remote workers and they had written an app to help them work together, rather than using the very inefficient email.

It was decided to sell this app instead. The rest, is history.

My Grandfather, use to run a suggestion scheme for the manufacturing company he worked for. I still have the camera (film) he was given for the suggestions that help the company to become more efficient and saved millions.

I wonder, rather than furloughing staff, maybe leadership need to listen to people in their teams. You might be amazed to find out that people might have suggestions as what you can do with the business. Adam Gray, my co-founder and I always say to our company that he and I don’t have exclusivity on the good ideas.

Another suggestion is that you use these people to get your company fitter and stronger for the new normal.

Both my friends work at companies that don’t understand social media and the way it’s changed with society and the way we do business. Before anybody says anything, you cannot conclude anything based on a sample of two.

Why don’t those companies invest in a Modern Selling Program?

Use you spare sales people and marketers to help roll that out through the business. Not just empowering the sales team to have the digital skills they need to sell today, but also to empower people right across the business. This will enable your business to come out of the up turn firing on all cylinders, rather than scrambling around and wondering why you are being over taken by the competition.

Business are being a gift, in terms of time and resource, what you do in the next 4 weeks will decide if you will come out of this fitter and stronger or you won’t survive.

Some of that will be based on your leadership, how you deploy your resources and better still invest in your people and suppliers. 


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