Selling in tough times
Selling in tough times? "The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word 'crisis'. One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger-but recognize the opportunity." - John F. Kennedy
Hearing "no" regularly can eat away at us, making us feel useless. That's not a good place to be.
In fact, when times get tough, research shows that sales people reduce their calling by 38%.
If you think about it, it’s so easy to do – we can fall into a pattern of reducing calls because we don’t want to hear the little “no” word. So we convince ourselves “no-one’s spending” “everyone is cutting back” “times are hard”
What can you do?
Here are some sales tips to help you be successful
Selling in tough times - use your time wisely
That's a winning combination which means that you can be in the 5% of businesses that thrive in tough times.
Who will offer you the best opportunity to win business?
Which markets, which projects, which relationships, which people will help you
achieve your sales targets
Selling in tough times - Stay positive
I don't mean this glibly, it can be tough to keep positive, and some days it's easier than others.
Focus on what you are achieving, where the opportunities lie, what your products and services can do for people, it will all help you in
Selling in tough times What do you sell?
Think about this, you need to explain your products and services in terms of not what you sell, but what they do for the customer / propsect.
This is essential, clients, customers and prospects don't want to know how many pixels something has, how many products you offer, how long you've been going, they want to understand what all this means for them.
Take time to prepare clear benefit statements or statements of results for your particular buyers. ( a user of product will be interested in different things to a financial buyer )
So rather than
call handling skills training makes people feel more equipped to deal with customers
call handling skills training reduces invoice queries
Our call handling skills training programmes have reduced invoice queries to improve cashflow by 65% ( that's true by the way )
Selling in tough times - Think job not product.
When you are talking to a prospect / customer about a piece of work. See it from their point of view, price the job not your product. What can you offer that will make their life easier, and give you the best average order value. Where can you offer add-ons / go-withs, that will increase your order value and make the project easier for the customer because they are working with one supplier.
Selling in tough times
Pull not push
It depends what kind of industry you work in. If you sell low value products with a one time sell, then doing more calls, proposals, presentations, cold calling, prospecting will bring results.
But if you sell business to business or the long term relationship is important to you you’ll need to be smarter, your buying cycles will be longer as buyers will be more cautious. Some estimates are 40% longer.
Pushing the sale will not work, instead it is likely to build resentment. Stay along side your customers and prospects - don’t push them into a corner.
( there’s an interesting sales tip on the difference between pull and push here )
One hire controller we were working with in a lifting equipment company in the North East of England, understood this and phoned her key customers regularly.
She didn’t push product, she tried to understand things from her customers point of view. And when one major ship yard lost a big contract, she kept calling, to see how people were, not to make the sale, but to keep the relationship. She was looking long term. She knew pushing product wasn't going to help this relationship, she knew that she wanted to be in the best position when things did improve, and she knew which of her accounts she she could still sell to.
And when the contract came back, who got the call, who got the work? You’ve guessed it – Julie. Why because she was alongside her customers as an equal partner in the supplier / customer relationship. And when she got the work, she was told, she was the only person who called during that time. Everyone else stopped calling, and when things picked up, they started again.
Selling in tough times - Manage your pipeline, keep it filled with prospects
Put your energy into winning those rather than being busy sending out and delivering loads of brochures. Define your best opportunities – you’ll have your own criteria, here are some of ours:-
In short have you established that there is a clear basis to do business?
Selling in tough times
Cutting costs is not a way to stay profitable. Yes you may introduce special offers, or bundle together products and services to demonstrate added value, but if you start slashing prices on some of your competitive advantage products your profitability will suffer.
How we can help you