What Sales Managers Should Expect In 2012 – Tougher, But Better

Now that we are well into 2012 and sales managers have had a taste of the market conditions we will see this year, we thought we’d share a little bit of our view on what to expect this year.

In short – 2012 will be tougher, but better. Why? Because the many market factors are improving, but also becoming more unpredictable.

While it is normal practice for companies to review their sales performance and budgets for the prior year in order to make a sales plan for the year ahead, market conditions for the past few years have been extremely volatile making it very difficult to forecast the output of a sales team. There is virtual complete lack of certainty for every buyer and in turn for every sales manager.

This pits sales managers between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, they need to make dependable sales forecasts in order for the company to determine if it will be able to meet its obligations. On the other hand, there are outside forces that could jeopardize achieving sales targets. There are various scenarios that need to be considered if you are going to make realistic sales goals and motivate a team in to meeting their sales projections.

The good news is that 2012 is anticipated to be better than in 2011.  Historically, election years have been good for business.  What’s more is that according to Training Industry, Inc., companies spent $1.9 billion on sales training last year, a 15 percent increase from the previous year. This shows that companies are planning for increased sales activity.

This doesn’t mean that we are out of the woods.  The U.S. economy is impacted by global events.  We can expect to see continued shrinking of the European economy through at least the first half of the year.  Greece recently implemented tough austerity measures and Spain is expected to implement one soon as well. If Britain’s economy continues to shrink, it could end up in another recession. This could have an impact on our economy.

Oil is also expected to continue rising through 2012 sparking inflation concerns.  You can expect the Federal Government to take steps to keep inflation in check.  There have been conflicting reports as to when interest rates may rise.  Some are speculating that interest rates could start going up by the end of this year.

With all things considered, business is getting done.  Slowly, companies of all sizes are starting to hire again and we have started to see a reduction in unemployment rates in many parts of the country.  Companies begin to hire when they feel confident that their business will grow in the near future.  In addition, companies are now buying goods and services.

Now that the economic engine is churning again, sales managers need to make sure their team is working to supply these growing companies with their expertise. Sales managers can’t afford to allow anyone on their team to continue to blame the economy for poor sales results.  Instead, they need to be conservative in their forecasting and make sure their team is doing everything possible to win over customers and prospects. At the end of the day, the teams that work hard and smart will be in the 2012 winner’s circle.

Tougher, but better.