How to sell in a recession

It’s coming.  Some say it’s here.  We dodged the last one….just.  This one is seemingly unavoidable.

 

Selling is easy when the economy is buoyant, when confidence is high and employment is so abundant people are quitting jobs to pursue their passions. 

Relatively speaking. 

There will always be complexities, competition and other considerations, but compared to selling in a recession…..IT’S A WALK IN THE PARK.

 

Australians have enjoyed 25 years of consistent growth.

That’s two generations who have grown up in a world where you had a job if you wanted one, indeed, where you’ve been able to take your pick.  The onus has been on the employer to sell themselves as an employer of choice.

We’ve come to accept those businesses who have maintained skeleton staff numbers and invested instead in marketing to generate demand from a customer base who apparently “knew what they wanted”.  Where profit has been achieved through reducing costs rather than profitable growth. In retail, seasonal sales attract customers into stores.  Essential services are all about the best price.

And it didn’t seem to matter to sales…..at first. 

Is it any wonder then that many in business to business sales struggle?  Without investment in making the shift from price to value, from immediate to ongoing, from a sale today to a revenue stream, new recruits are on their own.  They’re handed a car, a mobile, a territory/client base and of course, a target to achieve.  Some worked out a way for themselves. Some don’t.  The client experience suffers.

I’ve heard sales people (and I am including BDM’s, Account Managers, Head of Services, etc here) complaining that marketing should get better to generate demand, and send more $1million dollar deals their way for them to convert.  Order takers essentially.  Skill, technique, tools and rigour in improving customer engagement…who needs that?  Give me a lead, I’ll convert them.  Simple, right?

Of course it was wrong.  But when targets are achieved in spite of their ability or effort, leading those horses to water so they’ll drink is a push.

With businesses laying off people, closing branches, or closing down entirely the size of the available market will shrink.  Those businesses who are left will become increasingly selective about where they allocate resources. They’ll have to be.  Earning the right to do business with them will become the focus.

When salespeople don’t have the skills, rigour and or willingness to grow their capacity to sell more and sell well, they won’t last.  Without an understanding as to how to sell commercially, salespeople are left with pressure, frequency, price and discounting. Playing the numbers game to achieve targets, is exhausting and the customer experience is usually poor.  Sales at any cost means little or no margin and usually no profit.  Times have changed. 

Reality is hitting now.  Will you be ready when it does?  Will your team?

So I’m asking you to think about the following questions to clarify what you must do to survive in these uncertain times and emerge the other side in a good position to take advantage when things improve, which they will.  We simply don’t know how long we’re in this cycle for, which industries will be further impacted, and what that means for each of us.

 

ONE:

If I asked your customers, what would they say about the value your sales people bring to them consistently? What is their measure of that value?  And what does that value when delivered enable them to do?

 

TWO:

How consistent is the approach across your sales team? How does this impact your ability to increase your market share? How do you know?

 

THREE:

What tools do you use to proactively coach your team? Do you observe them “in play” or merely manage by dashboard?

 

FOUR:

Have you ever wondered whether or not to keep a new recruit or not? Would you like to have data to validate your “gut” feel?  How much does it really cost you to get recruitment wrong?

 

FIVE:

How well does each team member grow their pipeline value? What actions do they take to progress opportunity to win more of the right opportunities?  How does your team connect the work they do to the revenue the business generates?

 

SIX:

What approach does your sales team take to growing their networks? How often does their customer base think about them without being prompted?  How do they know?

 

Selling isn’t innate. It’s a skill that can be developed with practice and time.  Whether or not your business survives these challenging times requires a review of all practices, including sales. Instead of blindly cutting costs, invest in resources that will generate profitable growth.  The right people, using the right tools in the right way at the right time with the right opportunities.

 

 

 

View our other posts

Get Unstuck

It’s all too easy to get stuck in our thinking.   Add to that the power of words which every time we utter them reinforce our current view of a situation or our feelings, and it’s like moving in quicksand. All week I’ve been speaking with sales teams who are...

Structure is the Key

If the business world in Australia goes into hibernation, what on earth do we as salespeople do?    Well I guess we could pull up stumps and “go home” mentally and turn our attentions elsewhere.  That’s certainly one option. My question about that though, is what...

The Hidden Impact on your Customer Facing Teams

Bushfires.  Coronavirus.  Global Recession.  Mass layoffs.  Daily updates on social distancing.  Industries disappearing.  Queues at Centrelink.   It’s rough.  Could get rougher.  Could?  Let me change that to probably will. For the industries who still have...

How to connect despite social distancing

Life has just jumped tracks.    One minute we were heading into a recession…but we kind of knew how to handle that…and we could prepare ourselves for less spending by less individuals and businesses…It would hurt, but it was something we could handle. Coronavirus...

How to sell in a recession

It’s coming.  Some say it’s here.  We dodged the last one….just.  This one is seemingly unavoidable. Selling is easy when the economy is buoyant, when confidence is high and employment is so abundant people are quitting jobs to pursue their passions. Relatively...

Coronavirus Update

These certainly are interesting times we’re living in, aren’t they?   With each day comes new information and new restrictions about the way we interact with one another to protect ourselves and those most vulnerable to Coronavirus.  I wanted to reach out to you...

One thing impacts something else

We don’t just transform in one way without transforming in other (sometimes unexpected) ways.  We just don’t.  I used the example of extreme weight loss in another article, so let’s return there for the purpose of example.  In losing say, 37kg in weight a person will...

Staying Hungry and Humble

There is a truth in sales that must be accepted in order to be truly successful and to ensure that success is continued.  And that is that we never pass go.  To use the Monopoly Board analogy, we may step on the destination but then we move beyond it…over and over and...

Acting As If and Imposter Syndrome

At some point in our career, each of us feels like we’re going to get the tap on the shoulder to tell us that the game is up.  They’re finally onto us…nice try but we’ll take it from here.  Imposter Syndrome.But where does Acting “As if” fit into this, and is it the...

Service is a privilege

To be of service is a privilege.   There I’ve said it.  It’s the fastest way to right size yourself, to put your ego well and truly back in its place and to live a life of legacy and purpose.  Not everyone sees it like this. Service isn’t related only to a job, a role...