Selling in Tough Times

My friend John Spence is giving a speech today in Seattle to a group of salespeople and asked me to suggest a few ideas for dealing with difficult times. Here’s what I gave him, and I hope you find some value in them as well:

1.       Get back to basics. When things are going well, it’s easy to cut corners and get away with it, such as doing less sales call planning, making the prospecting calls, etc. Get more training or at least review the material you already have from previous training sessions.

2.       Pay extreme attention to detail. It’s very easy to lose a customer when times are tough. They’re not in a forgiving mood, because the prevailing attitude is that there is a lot of spare capacity around, so they expect to be treated very well. (Think of how you feel when you want to get a contractor to work on your house. When things were busy for them we were grateful for them returning our calls; now we’re incensed when they don’t respond immediately)

3.       Work on your network. Extend and diversify it, but most importantly, put effort into helping others, especially those who are not in a position to help you right now.

4.       Prepare for the turnaround. It will come, despite how easy it is to be pessimistic. The trick is to  come out of this stronger than when we went in. Learn, network, add value, and it will pay off.

5.       Give a little extra. When people ask for three ideas, give them 5.

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