Sales: Selling in a recession

There is no denying that it’s tough to be a sales professional right now. Budgets are tight, companies need to maximize their return on investment and everyone is increasingly selective about how they spend their money. 

However, and this is important to keep in mind, companies have not stopped spending money.  So the question is … What are you doing to ensure that when there’s money to be spent that it’s spent with you?

Reduce your inefficiencies

This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at how much time is frittered away by some sales professionals because they are inefficient in the way they conduct their day-to-day business.  According to a variety of sources, it is estimated that on average:

Employees spend 36 minutes per day looking for misplaced papers and electronic files.

Employees are distracted and/or interrupted every 11 minutes.

Employees switch activities every three minutes disabling their ability to create momentum for themselves in their selling activities (working in constant interrupt mode…start stop, start stop…).

Office distractions cost employees 2.1 hours per day. If you see yourself in this number, figure out what this lost time is costing you personally in lost revenue and income.

Take time to honestly evaluate how you spend your time each day. Then work to eliminate productivity-killers such as disorganization, fragmentation, procrastination, etc.

Clearly differentiate yourself

Why should a potential client spend their money with you rather than with your competitor? I hope you know the answer to this question. If you don’t, that’s your first task in support of achieving your revenue goals. Every sales professional must be able to clearly articulate what makes you and your company competitive as opposed to comparative. This may sound simple, but it may also surprise you to find out that many sales professionals can’t do this well and/or in a compelling fashion.

Focus on your money-making activities

In support of achieving your revenue goals, determine how much time you have spent in the past (during better economic times) on prospecting. Let’s be clear, whatever amount of time you have spent in the past on this activity, it will have to be greatly increased during tougher economic times if you plan to succeed. In fact, if you haven’t already increased the amount of time you spend prospecting, then you are most likely falling behind your competition.

You should also have a secondary focus of greatly expanding your base of contacts (prospects) for the future. It’s important to invest a disproportionate amount of time in building new relationships. Identify companies that fit your ideal client profile and reach out to them. Introduce your company and yourself to these prospects and make it clear that you simply wish to meet for the purposes of getting to know them, understand their critical business issues, and to share a little about how your company has helped other companies with similar issues. Let them know that you will not try to sell them anything…no pressure to buy. It’s always nice to make a sale, but in today’s economy, you still want to meet the people that have no budgets today, but may be willing to take the time to learn about your offerings for some future point in time. This no pressure to buy approach may also differentiate you from your competition. 

Finally, keep in mind that these tough economic times are just a moment in time. It may be a painful moment in time, but it will pass. If you use this time to establish good work habits and reach out to customers and prospects with a clear and convincing message that sets you apart from the competition. When it comes time for companies to spend money, they’ll be more likely to spend it with you.

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