MARLTON, N.J. — We have not seen buyer behavior like this in our lifetimes.
Selling services in a recession takes new skills that you may need to sharpen again. Successful operators will treat this economic environment as an opportunity rather than a detriment. The way you act now will affect your success for years to come. The operators who take the opportunity of slower business to focus on sales and marketing will reap the rewards.
Some facts you may not know:
• The big guys tend win in a recession. Their brands are established and buyers are less likely to take a chance on something new. This doesn’t mean you hang your head and give up — quite the contrary. It means you have to work harder and be stronger. Strength will lead to success.
• Diverse companies will survive. If your niche was corporate banking, you may want to relook at your model. Look for ways to diversify into areas that you can easily move. Realize though that those areas also may be feeling the effects of the economy.
• Recessions won’t last forever. Of course, we all know this but we can’t predict when this one will end. What we can do though is prepare for the end. If you wait until it is over to develop your brand, you will be too late.
Your competitors are feeling the pinch the same as you. Don’t cut out advertising altogether. You may want to run smaller ads and focus on key publications that will reap you the rewards. Keep promoting your company. Buyers will forget about you or think you are no longer in business if you stop cold turkey. Smaller is better than not at all!
Competitors who are cutting back are essentially opening the door for you to gain market share. That won’t happen unless you act. Pick up the phone and start making calls and appointments. What do you have to lose? The worst thing that can happen is that they will say no. So what? You may find a few yeses but only if you make the call.
Potential customers are slow too so they have more time to “visit” with you. This is the time though to sharpen up your pitch. Be able to summarize your sale quickly and always answer the question, “Why should I buy from you?” Sell the value and quality of your service.
As competitors cut back their staff, customers lose their point people. This is your opportunity to pounce. People buy from people.
Embrace and nurture the decision makers. Let them know that although they may not be using your service now, they are still important to you and your business.
Listen! Listen! Listen! Gems are found when you shut up and let others tell you what is going on in their world. You may find opportunities to diversify your services to existing accounts.
Get motivated. Read everything you can find on surviving a recession. Read everything you can on sales techniques. You need to get down in the trenches and fight for a piece of the business. Be prepared to go to war.
Get involved. Know what is going on in your industry. This is not the time to drop out of industry organizations. Instead embrace them and become an agent of change.
You can gain market share in a recession! You will gain market share if you go for it! Remember, if you continue to do things the same way, you will get the same results. Change is good! Be aggressive and grab market share! This is the time to grow!
Source: Linda Moore, LCT Magazine
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