Selling in A Recession Might Be The Best Thing For Your Sales Career

As painful as this economy is, it might be the best test of your ability as a salesperson, and, it might prove to reveal what you need to be most successful in any economic condition.

There are 4 ingredients or elements you should be focusing on that will help you get through this terrible time and maximize your success in a healthy economy:

  1. Attitude
  2. Hard Work/Perseverance
  3. Intelligent Work
  4. Sales Skills

1. Attitude: 

I start with this because it may be the most important aspect of your success today and in the future. I teach my students that companies will be taking 3 basic approaches or be in 3 different phases in today’s recession:

  • Be aggressive and grab market share
  • Stay the course and be positioned to grow when the economy recovers
  • Drowning and having a hard time staying alive

The same is true of us as individuals. We can:

  • Work harder and smarter including doing everything we can to find and align ourselves with the companies in the first category
  • keep your focus and work as hard or a little harder than you have been
  • get worried, depressed and downtrodden and stop working as hard

I am in the same situation as my clients. I am selling (and trying to sell) to the industries that are growing (yes there are some) or being less affected by the economy (selling or in verticals that are less affected by the economy). I am staying away from bad news (without being Pollyannaish) so that it doesn’t overwhelm me. I am protecting my accounts and doing what I need to keep them and help them. I am being creative in winning deals. Finally, I am watching my own personal financial assets so I don’t worry too much and can maintain my confidence.

2. Hard Work/Perseverance:

There is no substitute for hard work in any economy. In a bad economy it will help you make up for the short fall in business. In a good economy, you can reap the rewards of people spending money. If you are working 9 hours a day, work 11. If you are working 11, work 12 or work much smarter in those 11. Don’t fool yourself into thinking just working smarter is the answer.

Perseverance is a different story. Even in the best of times there is a lot of rejection in selling. Multiply that 10 fold in a bad economy. One must find ways to keep at it, not scare themselves. Celebrate small victories. If you made 100 prospecting calls and only got 1 appt, congratulations, at least you made the 100 calls (most people aren’t even doing that). Surround yourself with people who are thinking and doing the same. Don’t get down for too long. It is hard to get back up.

3. Be Intelligent:

The smarter you are, the more you will sell. What does that mean?

  • sell to clients that aren’t suffering as much
  • protect your base
  • be creative with solutions, packaging, pricing, terms and conditions, bundling, etc. What ever was working prior to the economic downturn wont work, or wont work as well.
  • Use your time more judiciously. Don’t waste time on anything that doesn’t directly affect what you want to achieve.
  • Get more organized personally and organizationally. Stop wasting time in meetings or with bureaucracy that prevent you from selling or being in front of customers. Reduce steps and less bureaucracy so you can be more responsive to clients and sales situations.
  • Incentivize people for doing the right things. Avoid as best you can the temptation to reduce earnings or commissions.
  • Get to higher levels in your customer’s or prospect’s organization. If anyone has the will to do something, spend money, invest, it is at these levels.
  • Sell in smaller pieces so it is easy for a prospect or customer to digest. Big numbers will scare people away.
  • Only spend money where it directly impacts your goals

4. Sales Skills:

Finally, you have to be skilled. You can do all the things above but if you are not good at selling, all will go to waste. What are the most important skills, now and when the economy recovers?

  • Prospecting networking and marketing to get more opportunities
  • Qualifying, discovering and taking control of the sales cycle early
  • Creating and presenting unique and compelling solutions that address the objectives of your prospect or customer
  • Resource management to help you expand your ability to do more things than you can by yourself
  • Objection handling is huge since it will help you through out the sales cycle and in the final stage of negotiation

This is not to say other skills are unimportant, but in my opinion, these are the most essential.

If you do the things discussed, you will get through this dire economy and develop the right habits to make more money when the economy recovers.

Good luck and good selling!