So you think the economy is hurting your sales. In all honesty, you are hurting your sales. There is plenty of business going on every day. People are buying. Their reasoning and process may have changed, but the end result is the same.
The difference between those who thrive and those who flounder is in their heads. Successful business owners and salespeople are DECIDING to succeed.
That decision propels them to be more creative with their process. Those who are struggling have DECIDED to listen to the news instead of listening to themselves.
There are three key ingredients to selling in a more challenging economy. They are:
You’ve heard it said that Attitude is Everything. So true! Henry Ford said, “If you believe you can do a thing or you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” Your mindset is a large part of your success or failure.
So, do a gut check. What do you believe at this very moment? Do you believe that the challenges of the economy are insurmountable? Or, do you believe that with ideas, a plan, and some action, you can still succeed?
It is your attitude that will unlock (or bolt down) the door to your success. You can, most likely, see it already! When you believe in possibilities, you open up your mind to discovery. On the flip side, if you are negative you are paralyzing yourself.
The first step in your adventure is this - adopt a ‘can do’ attitude. Embrace the idea that there are possibilities.
Once you’ve improved your attitude you are ready to do some real brainstorming. Take a look at your product/service offering and ask yourself how you can tweak it. Can you offer a ’stimulus’ discount? Can you add in complementary services? Can you barter with potential clients?
The young entrepreneurs over at Tees and Tats faced a real challenge when the economy took a turn. As merchants of high-end, limited edition tees, they found themselves in a situation where the economy was having an impact on their sales. Instead of giving in to what some would say was inevitable, they got creative and came up with a program to draw business. And they used the economic conditions as part of their program, tying the Dow Jones Index into their pricing platform. In essence they offered a rebate for every 100 points the Dow decreased. You can read their story here.
How’s that for thinking on your feet? It’s what I mean by creativity.
When the economy is good, people buy because of need and want. However, when the economy gets tight, people change their buying habits. The ‘wants’ can sit on a shelf, but the needs remain. Your job is to identify how your product/service is needed and how you can position your business as the preferred solution.
Have the new economic conditions created a new target market for your product or service? Have you considered that possibility? Think about it. Consider, as well, whether now is the time to add a product or service to your offerings. Some business owners are packaging their products differently as a way of adding value to their prospects.
All of the above will do you no good if you don’t take action. A big mistake many business owners and salespeople make is hunkering down - I imagine to ‘weather the storm.’ The problem is that no activity leads to no activity! You have to act.
You have to take action on a daily basis - especially now. Look around. The most successful people out there are the ones who have embraced these ideas and are DOING something to build their businesses.
Visit your current clients. Touch base with them to find out how they are. What’s going on with them? Are there other ways you could be helping them? Building customer loyalty is key to current and future success. Those vendors who are helping their clients survive will be the vendors who are kept for years to come.
In addition to this, there is usually business there. Many salespeople win the first piece of business but never go back to find out what else they could be doing for that very client. Now is the time to uncover those missed opportunities.
Attend networking events. When times get slower you have more opportunities to get out and meet people. Getting out the door is essential. I submit that most selling these days is launched via networking and referrals. So, get out there and find those referral partners. This, of course, includes social media networking.
Reconnect with past acquaintances. When you’re busy it’s easy to lose touch with people. When times are tougher, slower, you can take advantage of the available time to reach out to those folks. They can be great referral sources.
Explore Strategic Alliances. These are relationships with individuals in complementary industries who are in front of your prospects. They provide you with another set of eyes and ears - like an unpaid sales team. And you do the same for them.
As mentioned above, some small business owners are bartering for their products or services. Remember, we all have needs. If you can match your need with a potential client you may be able to trade. Once they’ve experienced your product/service there’s a good chance they’ll continue to use you, either in a barter relationship or traditional.
I received a call from a past client a month ago. When I answered the phone she said, “What do I have that you want?” Well, that threw me for a minute. Then she explained that she wanted me to coach one of her salespeople and was wondering if we could barter for it. As it turned out, I did need one of their IT services. Deal made!
The people who are thriving in today’s economy are the ones who believe they have something of value. They also are taking action daily to do the things necessary to move their business forward. The lesson for you is this: you have to first adopt a positive attitude. That attitude will allow you to get creative with your messaging and your product offerings. A positive attitude and creativity won’t help you a bit if you don’t take them out the door!
About the Author: Diane Helbig is the president of Seize This Day Coaching. Diane is also the Co-Founder of Seize True Success, a coaching practice dedicated to working with franchisees. Diane is a Contributing Editor on COSE Mindspring, a resource website for small business owners, as well as a member of the Sales Experts Panel at Top Sales Experts. Her story is featured in the book Chicken Soup for the Soul Power Moms.