Credit Crunch: Sales Dilemma!
I have spent a luxurious 3 weeks in the UK without overseas travel while the unfolding global financial crisis has been almost the sole news item, and I have been left with the distinct feeling that times for sales people are about to get interesting.
Did selling just become more important?
Well, yes. It seems fairly obvious to us that as the world faces a recession businesses are going to need to sell smarter. Do more with less is the recession mantra and, for sales people, that means win more from less. No dung Sherlock; the elementary question is how?
Here’s the dilemma: How do you maintain sales but cut costs at the same time? The answer, as my first sales manager used to say, is “work smarter not harder” and in the last 8 weeks we have heard the same story from clients all over the world. Sales opportunities are getting more scarce and competition more fierce. Does this climate pose a threat or proffer an opportunity?
I wholeheartedly believe that it is an opportunity, and not just for businesses like ours whose mission is to help clients improve sales effectiveness. I believe it is an opportunity for all professional sales people to make a difference.
In a boom economy sales skills are neither essential for survival nor recognised for their worth, but in a recession sales skills become sought after and essential. In much the same way as water divination is a useless and unappreciated skill in Minnesota (the land of 10,000 lakes), sales skills are not easily recognised when selling is about taking orders. But if the sale requires skill – clarity of thought, good negotiation, good relationship-building, and great presentations – then like the diviner in the desert the salesperson becomes a valuable asset.
So here’s my top three insights for selling in the recession:
- Sell on value: Show how your product or service can help the prospect cut costs.
- Sell up: Assume all sales will need a higher sign off than usual (the board will want to approve smaller deals).
- Switch Sell: Look to sell against competition not sell new to service prospects.
By the by, since you may not have known that Minnesota has 10,000 lakes, here’s something else you may not know about the state: It’s 3,500 miles from the nearest sea and yet has one of the best seafood restaurants in the world. Technically that’s opinion not fact, but should you get the chance to visit the twin cities may I recommend you go to the Hyatt Minneapolis and eat at The Oceanair Seafood Room Apparently they now have a chain but I have been eating here for the last 10 years and it gets my vote every time. I have never managed a trip to either city without dinner here.
A final thought –
Leaders are made in turbulent times.