As sales decline, sales survival has become the topic of discussion in many corporate boardrooms during this economic downturn. However, there are things that sales organizations can do to take advantage of the downturn and position themselves for the future.
- Don't panic.
Easy to say but not so easy to do especially if you are the bread maker and others are depending on you. Nonetheless, you must remain calm knowing that recessions do occur; recessions are out of our control and "this too shall come to an end".
You stand a far better chance of winning in the long term if you avoid making careless decisions and adverse mistakes in the short term.
- Think long term, not short term.
Where do you see your sales or your organization's sales in a year, in three years and in five years from now? What must you do, that is within your control, to get there?
Without a doubt, you must brainstorm a long term plan; set realistic goals; position yourself for success, not failure; take action toward your goals; and monitor or measure your sales progress.
- Stay focused on what you know and what you do best.
This is not the time to launch new products or line extensions but to aggressively market and sell your strengths. Keep your eye on customer service.
If you do introduce new services, remember to concentrate on the cost effective services. You must bring plenty of customer value to the table in order to enjoy sales success in this tight economy.
- Stay in touch with customers.
Even if regular customers are not currently doing business with you or if they have indicated that budget cuts will keep them from utilizing your services in 2013, it remains an optimum time to ask for their feedback.
Then listen! Make it a priority to know what is on their minds and adapt to their needs. Stay relevant. The more you get to know their business and changing needs, the more likely you are to retain their business for the long run.
Send e-newsletters with articles of interest to key contacts and e-mail messages of thanks. Your customers will remember your fortitude and will appreciate the attention during this unsettling economy.
- Work closer with your best customers.
Identify your best customers (A, B) based on your criteria. Then, approach your best customers and help them figure out ways they can thrive in this economy.
The long-term payoff is tremendous and your loyalty will be gratifying. Unfortunately, this is not the time to chase every possible lead, especially the C category leads. You need to concentrate on your most valuable customers.
- Invest smarter on marketing. If you cut marketing out of your plan, then you risk a cut in profits. Don't be tempted to stop marketing in this downturn.
Instead, use cost effective tools such as press releases, speaking engagements, seminars and e-mail marketing.
These are the least expensive methods of getting the greatest sales return and it gives you a quick and easy way to measure the effectiveness of the campaign.
- Partner with customers, suppliers, charitable organizations and/or the media.
Everyone is operating in the same economy and everyone is looking for ways to reduce costs and maintain sales.
Identify and explore the win-win partnership agreements. Look for ways to benefit others and you will benefit in return.
- Become more socially responsible and visible.
If you are already socially responsible, you are on the right track. If you are not, then get involved. There are several organizations and many individuals who are suffering more than you or your organization.
We all understand that by giving, we gain. Look for positive ways of helping others and in turn, you will be taken care of in ways you've never imagined.
Most of all, remember that what goes down will eventually go up. We have slipped into a valley but in time, we will climb the mountain to success.
Keep your entrepreneurial spirit and sales energy alive. History repeats itself and therefore, historically demonstrates how recessions do come to an end.
While we don't know when this recession will be over, try not to be discouraged.
Focus on a positive direction for the long term. Stay in touch with your best customers, your suppliers and your professional network.
Do something positive to make a difference in the lives of others.