Selling in a Slower Economy

Economic shifts and the associated changes in buying attitudes demand reactionary modifications of selling activities.

In slower economic times, people become more cautious. Not only are "buyers" harder to find, but they also take longer to buy and tend to buy form the safest sources - a-la "No one ever got fired for buying an IBM!"

To keep your slice of the suddenly "smaller pie," be ready to adapt your team’s sales habits:

Back to basics! When things get tough in sales, the "tough" get back to basics - back to making more calls; back to following-through and following-up on everything; back to the daily checklist and meticulous record-keeping; back to consistent prospecting and to using sales automation tools; back to visiting more customers, and back to providing a little "extra service."

Before long, you'll be back on track!

Looking for sales orders in more places will likely yield more of them. A regular dialog with co-workers such as installers, technicians, and the administrative staff is a start, as in many cases they can provide "inside" information about your customers.

Networking with industry-related contacts to exchange strategies is another good idea. Useful data can also be found in local or regional newspapers and trade journals. Browsing one at lunch each day might well provide a couple of leads worthy of pursuit each afternoon.

Regularly seeking out networking opportunities at association meetings, chamber of commerce events, or trade shows is another key activity that often gets underused. It's not always comfortable approaching people at these gatherings, but consider that many of them are there for the same purpose!

In addition, making a habit out of asking customers and prospects for referrals is a good practice that makes even more sense during times when orders aren't as plentiful.

Keeping the ball in your court makes it easier for you to set the pace of business. Being prepared with a few polite but effective phrases is often the key to keeping control and to arranging a timely next step.

"I'm traveling (or) in meetings, so I'll call you back. When's a good time to try?"

"Is it all right if I stop by with the pricing? I could leave it at the front desk, or maybe you'd like me to identify a few key points while I'm there."

"I know you're busy, so let me take the initiative… can we get together again on the fifteenth?"

Working on the right things might seem obvious, but brainstorming with managers/peers increases efficiency by shedding light on the right people to call, the best approaches to take, and the most appropriate benefits to stress. Regular meetings keep everyone focused on the right things.

Diligent Follow-up. National Sales Executive Association stats regarding the importance of following up:

2% of sales are made on the 1st contact
3% of sales are made on the 2nd contact
5% of sales are made on the 3rd contact
10% of sales are made on the 4th contact
80% of sales are made after the 5th contact

The sales process works best when a number of different things go right. The more things we try, the better our chances of success - especially if the market isn't cooperating.


Selling in a Slower Economy