Monday, August 16, 2010

8 Ideas to Act on This Week

from my email archives from

8 Ideas to Help You Sell in a Tough Economy
by Jim Kasper

Selling in a tough economy requires extra effort, tenacity, better planning, and greater control over your sales cycle. Remember one thing: The top 2% of all salespeople automatically turn up their activity a couple more notches when things get tough. By doing so, they're the ones who'll be standing tall when the economy turns around.

Here are eight ideas to help you sell like a "top 2 percenter" in a tough economy:

Double and triple your call activity
Honestly, your competitors do not have the "stuff" to compete under these circumstances. Average salespeople buy into the "woe is me" philosophy and decrease sales activity. The top 2% know that an economic slowdown is an opportunity to edge out competition.

Re-allocate your field time
Work more with your "A" accounts in lieu of your "B" and "C" ones. Your purpose should be two-fold: 1) Your top producing accounts have the capacity to buy more from you; that's what makes them "A" accounts and, 2) You'll be securing your position with these accounts from attempts by the competition to wrest them away. Don't allow that to happen! Remember, this business cycle is impacting your competition, too, and they'll be aggressively looking at your "A" accounts as a source of new business.

Examine prospecting efficiency
Both rookie and veteran sales professionals tend to let their prospecting slide when times are good. As a result, their prospecting skill levels and prospect targeting abilities get rusty. This is a good time for you to hammer out your "prospective customer dimensions" In other words, delineate what your ideal prospect looks like. Then, identify key prospects in your area and proceed to develop your capture and execution plans.

Fire stalled prospects and move on
Your income and success depend upon calling on true prospects and current customers who can (and will) do more business with you. Assess the prospects you are calling on and don't be afraid to fire them, particularly if your extra effort is not showing any results. Remember that you have a business objective for every call you make. If you don't, your call will be reduced to a social nature and you don't get paid for those.

Go the extra mile for customers and increase value-added activities
You need to be creative in low or no-cost ways to help your accounts cut costs or stimulate new business. Go out of your way for your top accounts. Now is the time to establish yourself as a source for best practices. Share how your other accounts have benefited from your ideas.

Make every call count
Be prepared to make the most of every call. What value are you deriving from each customer visit? Who is controlling the sales call/sales or the customer? Experience and research has demonstrated that formal pre-call planning generates more successful outcomes of all sales activities. You should never take sales call effectiveness for granted, especially in tough economic times. The days of "blowing through" a call are over. The simple fact is that you are paid to move the customer to the next stage in your sales cycle. In today's economic climate, you've got too much at risk not to plan for success.

Now, more than ever, craft a strategy to overcome such objections as:

    "Until things improve, we're not undertaking new projects." "Now is not the time to change. We need to stay with our current supplier." "With economic conditions as they are, we're looking for low price suppliers."
Write a long list of discovery questions that will uncover hidden opportunities.

Plan to succeed
You will not survive an economic slowdown by simply hoping that you sell more or your current customer base buys more. Account planning, territory planning, and pre-call planning are the keys to efficient selling in a down economy.

It's time to review account plans or develop them, if you haven't already. Account plans are your road map to selling more to your "A" accounts. It may be time to reassess pricing or bundling in order to pick off some of your competitors' offerings.

In addition, ask yourself the following questions:
    How efficiently are you managing your territory? How much time do you spend traveling? Are you touching all of the accounts you need to? How many of your prospect calls are interspersed within current account visits within your territory? What accounts are at risk and what actions have you taken to reduce that risk? What value-added activities are you planning for your key accounts?
Reassess your priorities
This is not the time to perfect your golf swing or take extended time off. This is the time to dig in and take charge of your sales activities. By doing so, you'll be able to survive the current tough times and will be positioned to reap the benefits when the economy bounces back because you'll be ahead of your competitors who didn't!

Jim Kasper is the Founder and President of Interactive Resource Group. Jim has over 26 years of practical experience in direct sales, sales management, sales training, and marketing. Contact him at or call 800-891-7355.

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