Sales is the mechanism for a business to make a living. In uncertain times it is important to remember that sales and the strategies to increase them are imperative for survival. Here are some strategies to consider for your business.
- Cultivate Your Inner Sales Guru. You may be worried about the economy, but you can’t let worries rule your thoughts and actions. Rather than focusing on the economy, act as if you’re starting a new sales job that presents some interesting challenges to overcome. Remember: even during the worst of times, some people end up winning. Make sure it’s you.
- Reaffirm Your Firm’s Viability. Take a good, hard, realistic look at your firm. Is it still in good shape? Are its offerings worthwhile? Do you add value to your customers? Would YOU want to do business with your firm? If the answer is no, find a job somewhere else. But if your firm is basically sound, there’s no reason for you not to go out there and sell with confidence.
- Recraft Your Business Message. Figure out how you’re going to communicate the value of your business in a way that the customer will understand and believe you. Show the customer enough detail of your business financials so that they know, beyond all doubt, that your business is going to be there to help them in the future. Make buying from you a safe bet, no matter what happens.
- Retune Your Solution Message. What’s works during times of uncertainty are messages of low risk (protection, security, stability and cost savings). However, you needn’t be glum. People want some positive messages, too, so add those into the mix. Show how your offering helps position the customer for future growth, and how your offering helps THEIR customers.
- Expand Your Pricing Options. Work with your CFO or other financial gurus on alternative financing plans, delayed payments, subscription fees, or whatever… Many small businesses continue to have cash-flow problems, so you want to walk into EVERY sales situation with a clear, authentic and compelling message that will allow them to buy from you.
- Prioritize Your Opportunities. Run though your entire list of leads and opportunities and, based upon what you know and can learn with some research, prioritise your opportunities. Lower the priority of long-term “strategic” opportunities and raise the priority on the customer who is most likely to buy, regardless of what happens to the economy.
- Tighten Your Lead Qualification. Each time you get in contact with a prospect, confirm that they’re a real opportunity early in the sales cycle. Then use the flexibility of your financial options to determine the payment plan or method that will both make it easy for them to say “YES!” Do this religiously and, as a bonus, you’ll spend far less time following up on dead leads.
- Focus on the Right Numbers. Set up an ambitious schedule of working through the steps of your sales process. And then follow it. A sales process forces you to focus on the mechanics of selling rather than your concerns about closing business. The regularity of selling is a great way to get a sense of accomplishment, even if your hit rate is lower than it used to be.
- Become a Thought Leader. It might be a bit harder to make the deals than it was when times where good. So what? If you’re doing everything above, you’ll be outselling the competition. There’s a saying that true leadership consists of being able to remain calm no matter what. This is a good time for YOU to remain calm and make the best of the situation.
- Enjoy Yourself. When things are difficult, you need to give yourself credit and lots of it, simply for plugging away. Your challenge is to enjoy yourself and your job, even though times are tough. So, DECIDE to feel good. If you’ve got the emotional ability to stay calm when everyone else is freaking out, this could be the most successful years in your career.