Let’s face facts: We are still in difficult economic times, although things are getting better, business owners and sales professionals have only two courses of action available to them:
Option 1. watch everything: cut costs, increase discounts and accept lower sales revenues and a shorter, smaller bottom line. Hunker down and hope that you will survive till good times come around again.
Option 2. Sharpen, refine and increase your prospecting and sales skills, and look for new opportunity.
I personally like Option 2!
While other business owners and sales professionals continue to tightening their belts, cutting costs, increasing discounts and accepting lower sales and lower sales revenue, opportunity is there for those who take action.
So what can you do? Here are 5 things that you can do (and should always do – its just good practice)
1. Increase your sales skills.
Prospecting and selling are communication skills and like any communication skills they can be learned and improved upon. If you are not closing sales, it could be the economy; it could also be that your skills need sharpening. Great sales skills will enable you to take advantage of the opportunities that do exist. Great sales skills will enable you to close sales even during difficult times. Conversely, not having the skills will allow potential sales to slip through your fingers.
2. Increase the number of qualified prospects you reach directly.
Many companies, business owners and entrepreneurs cut costs by cutting out marketing and prospecting efforts. This is a huge mistake. While this is probably not the time to be spending large sums of money on brand new initiatives, it is imperative to continue low cost marketing and prospecting activities. Without prospecting, sales do not grow. Now that the economy is doing better, it is also recommended to step up some new activities.
One of the best, and least expensive sales/marketing activities you can initiate is to use the telephone and email. Call and email potential new customers to introduce yourself. Call existing customers to potentially sell more products/services, sell additional products/services and/or gather referrals. Calls to existing customers are also imperative because you especially want to increase customer loyalty. We call it nurturing.
3. Make inroads on your competition’s customers.
When we rebound from a tough economy, pricing pressure from customers will continue and loyalty is shaky. This could be the perfect time to increase your market share by targeting your competition’s customers. Perhaps there is another product/service that you offer that your competition does not. Perhaps your offering is less expensive and/or adds value in a way that your competition does not. This is a great time to introduce yourself and your company/products/services to your competitions’ customers.
4. Find new applications and/or new markets for the products and services you represent.
Can your products/services be used in nontraditional ways? Are there other markets that are potentially in need of your products/services? This is the time to explore these new applications and markets. If you find that your traditional market is drying up… Look elsewhere.
5. Find new ways to help existing customers and potential customers.
The easiest sales to close are sales to existing customers. They already have a relationship with you. They know you and they trust you. Go back to your existing customers with new applications, add-on’s and improvements for your existing products/services. Find new ways to help. Your customers will respond.
The five tips above all have one thing in common: They require action. You cannot allow fear and anxiety to paralyze you. Instead, focus on what you can accomplish and take steps to do so.