Of course it is. A period of poor economic times always follows a good one. But one lesson I learned from my father is his belief that “just because there is a recession, you don’t have to participate.” So what do great salespeople do to get ready for the inevitable?
Listen To Your Best Customers
If a recession is coming, your customers’ reaction to it determines how it will affect your business with them. Keep in close touch with your A list customers. Ask good questions about their outlook. Find out their plans to deal with a business downturn. Share this information within your company so you can adjust your business plans to prepare for the coming recession.
Look At The Markets You Serve
Various markets are affected differently by a recession. In the last one (2008ish) I was selling custom fabricated metal work to the building construction industry. Just prior to the recession the Commonwealth of Virginia issued a bond for construction at the public colleges and universities. I allied myself with the construction companies that focused on the higher education market. Projects with those companies carried us through the recession with minimal effect on business. Great salespeople pay attention to each of the markets they sell to. They are aware of how those markets are affected by economic conditions.
Evaluate Your Products And Services
When a recession is coming, your best customers will rely on you to provide products and services to help their business weather the down times. Great salespeople continue to emphasize how their products or services are benefits to their customers. Do you offer just-in-time delivery? Flexible stocking levels? Online business services? Make sure your customers know the value your company is to their business.
Create An Urgency To Change
When a recession is coming, some of your customers will “hunker down.” Others will be looking to improve their ability to “weather the storm.” Now is the time great salespeople bring out the stories of how purchasing now has helped their customers through a recession. Show by example how you solved problems for your customers in times of economic recession. Create some “pain” within your customer’s organization to make the decision to purchase now. Great salespeople know the best defense is a strong offense. They provide valuable service to their customers helping them prepare for a coming recession.
Great Salespeople Are Always Improving
If a recession is coming, how do great salespeople prepare? They study best practices, prepare value messages relative to their buyers needs and rehearse sales conversations. Great salespeople develop new skills to address changing markets and customer needs. They seek out mentors with experience selling in “down times.” They look to these top performers for advice and to develop strategies for changing economic times. Great salespeople are never complacent. They know that the selling environment is always changing. And they keep improving their selling skills to keep pace with whatever change comes.
Recession Is Coming
So when is it coming? Regrettably no one is standing by in the steeple of the Old North Church with lanterns ready to signal the recession is coming. The “experts” I read all agree that sooner or later the current bountiful period will end. Some point to economic markers suggesting it will be “soon.” Others waffle as to when it might begin pointing the current good market conditions. Great salespeople continue to maintain good relationships with their best customers. Those customers will tell you when the recession is coming for you. Your job is to be ready when it does.
What You Can Do Right Now
- Continue to meet with your customers asking good questions to determine their needs.
- Develop several probing questions to determine their concern about a coming recession.
- Learn the new skills needed to add value to your customers in a recession.
- Follow the economic news to prepare yourself for the recession.
- Evaluate your customer list to see who might benefit most from you during a recession.
- Be optimistic that your preparation and skill will get you through the recession in good shape.
Don Crawford & Lois Carter Crawford