Today’s guest post is by my sales coach Matt Nettleton from  Sandler Training, Trustpointe.  This first appeared in his newsletter and I just loved the  message.  I was delighted when he agreed to allow me to publish it here because it is time for small business owners to take control of their business.

I was raised by both an optimist and a pessimist. My mom was probably the happiest, funniest, friendliest person you could ever meet. She made sure that I had an abundant mindset, wished nothing but good for everybody and did my best to help people out. When I asked her why she even helped people she didn’t like, her response was simple. “Matt, everybody can be better off and helping them helps the community. Remember ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’.” Little did I know that her message was the same one I would pick up majoring in economics at Columbia University. The boom years of the 90s really proved my mom and my econ professors were both geniuses. For more than 15 years (until 2008), a rising economic tide really did raise everybody’s boats. For a majority of small businesses, those years were excellent. Buyers were abundant, profits were comfortable and, with some effort, it was pretty simple to find ready, willing and able prospects to grow your revenue.

But in 2008, I started to think more about what my dad had told me. Unlike my mom, he focused on the downside of every situation. His message to me was a little different. He told me “even dead fish float.” What he meant was when the tide rises, everything moves up– but not everything is a boat. His point was simple:

Bad economies do not create weakness; bad economies expose weakness.

For the past 18 months, we all have been learning to live with my dad’s message. And by we, I mean the American economy. We have seen a huge number of businesses that made bad decisions. And when times were good, those decisions looked fine. There were no real consequences for the bad choices. But as soon as we hit a bump in the road, those consequences were exposed and all too often that exposure has led to catastrophic failure.

As a sales trainer, I spend my days working with business owners who are seeing a whole new side of their businesses. The salespeople they thought were great turned out to be doing nothing more than riding the tide of a few key clients who were growing. The salespeople who were willing to cut the price a little in the good times are getting killed now that they have nothing to fall back on other than cutting prices some more. Those salespeople who did not consistently prospect have watched their sales volume collapse now that competitors are poaching their accounts. Two years ago these weaknesses may not have mattered. The economy was strong, buyers were plentiful and margins were healthy. The economy was growing and having weak sales processes and the wrong sales teams were problems, but they just were not big enough problems to fix.

Today is different. Your business is being held hostage. Your sales team is in control of your future and unless you know they are working from the right strategy, in the right structure, and have the right skills even the recovery is going to be a challenge.

We help our clients succeed regardless of the economy by helping them understand how to build these four sales essentials: strategy, structure, skills, and staff.

Are you asking yourself: “Do I have the right people?” “Are we doing the right things?” “Are we getting all of the success we deserve from the market?” If so, then it might be time for us to talk.  For more on this and other timely sales topics, contact Matt Nettleton at Sandler Training, Trustpointe, at or 317-845-0041.