Is America headed for a recession this year? I guess that all depends on who you ask. Some might say we’re already in one. You might be asking yourself “Well crap, if we are headed for recession, how am I supposed to continue to sell my product or service and stay profitable?” Today’s your lucky day. We haven’t delved completely into chaos (yet) and I’m going to give you tips on how to sell in a recession. Some of these tips will apply even if the economy is doing great.
Get Your Ducks in a Row
You’ll want to prepare yourself or your sales team to weather the storm now. Don’t wait until the country is knee-deep in $20 gallons of milk. Your customers are right now looking way longer and harder at what they purchase. It’s time to start really sitting down and quantifying the ROI (return on investment) for your customers if you haven’t been doing that. This is both for new and current clients of yours. Current clients’ loyalty will go right out the window when the budget gets tighter and you haven’t proven your worth. New customers will be extremely hesitant to “waste” money. Nobody gets fired for keeping the status quo, but lots of people have been fired for changing and having it not work out. Start game planning for the recession now.
If you run a sales team, how can you help your team? Help by shoring up the systems, spending more time coaching, and teaching back to the basics and fundamentals. You might have to go out on calls with your reps and get back into the weeds to keep forward momentum going. A recession doesn’t mean you and your team slow down.
If you’re a solopreneur, push yourself to do more. Any open time on your calendar is bad news. Now is not the time to slow your work ethic. Even unqualified meetings can lead to referrals and other opportunities for you. So take them.
Be Ready For Curveballs
In a recession you’re gonna see some things you don't normally see. Customers will want quicker ROI’s. I am experiencing this firsthand in my own industry. Be ready for executives to ask “Prove this investment will be paid back in 12 months or less.” Be ready in those meetings to be able to demonstrate ROI right then and there. “I’ll get back to you in a week with those numbers” won’t work anymore. You'll lose the deal to the competitor who already had some numbers. If you can’t hit the ROI goals, just be transparent with them. Tell the truth because it lets them know you are not in this for yourself.
Executives will also be getting more involved in purchases they would normally designate to lower management. So if you don’t normally interact with CEO’s and CFO's, start preparing yourself to. I have an article about selling to C-suite executives you can read here.
Can't Think About Only Yourself
You’re going to have to dig deeper. You can’t be me-oriented at all, although you never should have been in the first place. All they care about is staying above water; they don’t care about the fat payday you might get. It’s a good time to stop and think “Am I asking my clients/potential clients the right questions?” Ask them what their top 3 initiatives are. Be bold; ask them what their real situation is right now but do this tactfully. Often they hide the truth in meetings because who wants to call their baby ugly, right? But if you can understand the real challenges they face, you can be better positioned to help them achieve their goals. You can help them build a strong business case, not to be confused with a proposal. A business case is what you give to an executive to help inform their decision. A proposal is just a pitch deck and a quote.
Think about your current clients and capture some ROI/stories/and wins they have had. Clients love to share their successes, and they might have to share them internally to continue to justify their investment in your product or service. If you aren’t doing this now, start meeting with your current clients (annually/bi-annually/quarterly) to go over these wins, in every department your product or service has affected, to reiterate the ROI you have provided. This will definitely cement yourself in the company to keep competitors away.
Hopefully, these tips will keep your organization humming in the sales department. If you want tips on crafting cold sales emails, check out part 1 and part 2 of my “Tales from the DM’s” series. Now go get that money.