Getting the knack of making sales takes time. It doesn’t matter of the economic environment is booming and you have read all there is to read about sales. Until you’ve been tested and seen the methods at work then all you have witnessed is little more than theory. When you are finally out on the road or in the office making those sales happen then you will begin picking up some great, perhaps even secret methods for making sure you can close your sales. When the economy is good and sales happen easily, all is well. But what happens when the economy slows down and enters a period of turmoil? Some of those tips and tricks don’t fare as well when companies become exceptionally tight with whom they do business with. When the economic belt tightens how should you go forward in making sales? We asked entrepreneurs and business owners how they managed sales in a tough economic climate.
When the economy is tough your customer becomes more aware. They want a partner in business instead of someone to hand them facts and figures. For Jenifer Kramer of Jenerosity Marketing, listening to your customer needs if your top priority. “One of the best ways to maintain sales in a tough economy is to listen to your Client when they explain their needs. I was in premium sales from 2008 when the market crashed through 2011 and exceeded my sales goals every year. The trick was to provide great customer service, be available and ready to jump when the Client needed our services and never to push anything that they didn't need in the interest of making our numbers. Clients know when you are out for their best interest and are generally more apt to respond when they feel taken care of. So, calling to check in periodically to see how they were doing, reminding them that we were there and cared about their business and never being too aggressive helped make them feel safe with us and resulted in them coming to us when a need arose.”
Getting into the groove when it comes to battling a tough economic climate doesn’t just take one change in how you operate. Jeff Goldberg of Jeff Goldberg & Associates uses a variety of methods to assist with sales when things are rough in the sales world. “1) Prospect consistently. Nothing is harder to do than sell when you don’t have a lot of prospects to talk with. It makes it almost impossible to negotiate price when you don’t have a lot of deals you’re currently working on. Seeing more prospects increases the chances of you closing something. 2) Change the way you sell. Most sales reps believe a great presentation and a strong close will do the trick. Not true. The best salespeople are always the best question-askers (interviewers), the best listeners and the best story-tellers. 3) Ask questions designed to tell you what makes sense to your prospect. Prospects turn themselves into customers when they see a good reason to do so. We have to find out what makes sense to our prospects before we try to sell them. Ask good questions that help you uncover what they do now, or what they’ve done in the past, regarding what you have to sell them. Once you know what makes sense to them your presentation will sound like this: “Here’s what you’re doing now and here’s how our company (product/service) will help you do it better.” If people buy because it makes sense to do so (they do!) then when you show them a better way they should become your customer. 4) Always come from a strong desire to help the customer. Customers can smell greed like dogs can smell fear. If you walk into a sales situation and “Need to close the deal because the rent is due” the prospect can sense it, as opposed to coming from “I’m here to see if I can help this customer do what they do better.”
Another way to combat the fatigue of making sales in a tough economic climate is by focusing your efforts on making sure all salespeople are trained and ready to handle the new world of sales. Sam Caucci of Sales Huddle Group puts the emphasis on training. “Double down on staff training. 72.3% companies do little or no training. Especially in a down economy a company must focus on training. Sales reps need a balanced training approach that mixes product knowledge and skill based simulations. Load value. Customers may be more sensitive to high price points today, but all that really means is they do not see enough value in your offer compared to the market. Load more value (add-ons, upgrades, incentives, promotions) to get customers to take action. Focus on existing customers. Depending on your business, the best source of business can come from existing clients in the form of renewal business or referrals. Keep your strategy close to home and focus on the ones that are already fans.”
No matter which approach you take, making sales in a tough climate takes skill and dedication. Sometimes you’ll come up empty handed and other times you will hit the nail on the head with your client. Take into account the tips above and find ways to keep changing your methods to fit the mood.