Thoughts about selling in the current economy

Here are a few ideas and thoughts from some of the collective experience of our associates, in addition to some suggestions from articles we have read over the past few months about selling and negotiating in the current difficult economic environment.

In many of the articles, there are three common themes:

  • It is important to maintain a positive attitude – focus on where you can have impact – not on the overall economy. Remember the old expression: Attitude will determine your altitude.
  • Execute the basics – diligently. Vince Lombardy turned the Green Bay Packers into a successful American football club with his relentless focus on the basic skills of the game.
  • Work harder (depending on the article – it will take anywhere from 25% to DOUBLE the effort to accomplish the same results.) Working harder doesn’t necessarily mean spending more hours doing unfruitful things. It is working smarter and doing the right things to produce results. In other words, continue to develop your skills which will enable shorter selling cycles.

That being said – these are three very good themes – they do not necessarily drive you to any specific actions.  Here are a few ideas for you to try:

  • If you are using a web based tool for networking (like LinkedIn®) – expand your network. Think of everyone you have ever done business with or for (superiors, peers, subordinates, clients) and look them up. Reach out and connect with them – expand your network. You will be surprised at how many people you can “rediscover” with the potential side benefit of discovering some new business.
  • Call EVERYONE in your contact list – not to sell them something – but just to reconnect and “catch up”. Some of you are hesitant to call on your contacts because you have let the relationship lapse. This is the PERFECT time of year to reconnect. Call them just to wish them “Happy Holidays”, “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Kwanzaa”, “Happy Hanukkah”, “Joyous Solstice”, etc. Wish them the best for the coming year. Do this just to reestablish the contact. Human contact is very important in a world of high technology virtual reality. You may even get a referral or an introduction, but remember your objective is just to reestablish contact.
  • Contact ALL your prospects – with a change in your tune – you are not calling about business – but just to wish them a Happy Holiday. It is a tough time for everyone – you will be pleasantly surprised at how they react. “Someone actually called me to show a genuine interest instead of asking me for my business”. It definitely changes the playing field, and it helps to build trust and confidence in you as a person.
  • In your conversations with your clients and prospects, be more empathetic and positive. These are difficult economic times for everyone, and you can’t “cost cut” your way out of it. Consider alternative offerings in your product or services portfolio that will address the client’s needs. Additionally, look at ways to pare back your total solution. Think about what you might offer that will deliver the maximum return for your client. This will enhance your credibility and trust with the client and will open the doors to future business when the business climate improves.
  • Remember: clients cannot afford to make a mistake – too many eyes are looking. For you to be successful, you must prove that you can address their needs, and you will need to articulate your offering value in terms that resonate with them:
    • Minimize their risk
    • Reduce their costs (save them money)
    • Increase their revenue
    • Improve their profit / mission attainment
    • Improve their operational efficiency
    • Etc.

Budgets are being cut – or at least pared back, you must not lose momentum or your contact with your prospects.  When budgets open back up (and we believe they will), you want them to remember you and your organization.  You also want that memory to be positive!

We wish you a “Happy Holiday”, “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Kwanzaa”, “Happy Hanukkah”, “Joyous Solstice”, and all of the very best for a wonderful New Year. (jh)