Eight Ways to Sell in a Tough Market

By len d'innocenzo

Do you have a plan to help yourself and your client weather difficult economic times? Some business people, while complaining about tough times, feel powerless to do anything that will stimulate business. To pull through the crunch times, your prospects need your value added solutions more than ever. Here are eight ways you can help sell your way out of tough times.

1. Write down the ways your value added solutions help customers lower their expenses, increase their sales or productivity and improve their bottom lines. Customers need the benefits of your products and expertise more during tough economic times. To survive they have to run their businesses with greater control and efficiency.

Customers need to become more competitive and efficient. However, they don’t want to buy hardware and software, they want results!

2. Define your sales territory. What business can you expect from your existing customers this year? When are they planning to buy and what must you do now to lock in this business? As you plan your approach to a new target account, think about who could help you with an introduction or background information. Plan your approach and find out who the decision makers are and what you can say to create interest with them.

3. Get testimonial letters from your three best customers. Select customers who can attest to how your solutions helped them lower their expenses, increase their sales or productivity or improve their bottom lines. Type up a “draft” letter for them to approve. A testimonial letter is one of the best ways for you to prove to a new account that you deliver results.

4. As for referrals. Don’t be bashful. You’ve earned the right to ask for their help. When they give you a lead, be sure to let them know what happened. Close the loop and keep your lead source informed. They will appreciate your follow-up and, if one of the referrals turns into a sale, reward your lead source with a “thank you.”

5. Team up with a key manufacturer or distributor to approach several new target accounts. Teaming means pooling your combined resources to present a complete solution to an end user. Resources include your knowledge of local market opportunities, your value added solution, your past record of accomplishments, your commitment to your vendor.

For the manufacturer or distributor resources mean factors like technical expertise and support, market development funds and field sales, and support people to make joint sales calls on qualified opportunities.

Because they don’t sell anything unless you sell it, manufacturers and distributors are interested in helping you open new accounts. Teaming up with a key supplier to open new accounts with their products and your solutions is a sure-fire recession beater.

6. Contact the prospects who said “No” to you last year. This is a new year and situations change. Start the sales cycle over again with these accounts. Determine their needs and what you can do to help them in their business. Take a fresh approach and update your prospects on the success you’ve provided to other businesses.

7. Start a telephone sales effort of your existing customer base for add-on sales of peripheral products, supplies and maintenance agreements. There is a lot of potential business to be had right in your customer files. Customers may not be aware of the additional supplies and services you can provide. These usually are higher profit margin items and your customer will like your follow-up and responsiveness.

8. Hold once a month prospecting “Blitz Days.” Leave a skeleton crew at the office to handle the phones while everyone else canvasses a territory for the day. Blitz days are great for building morale and team spirit. Start with a breakfast meeting in the territory to be canvassed. Divide your people into groups of two person teams. Assign areas to each two person team to be canvassed. Then hit the streets!

What are people canvassing for? Qualified prospects! As many as can be found. You would be amazed at what a Blitz Day will do for your people. Meet again at the end of the day to determine which team qualified the most prospects and award some simple prizes.

Some of you may wait for the recession to take care of itself. But the smart people who want to take control of their own destiny, will select a few of these ideas and do something about the recession.