Selling in a Recession

 In Advertising, Leadership, Marketing, Sales, Sales Advice, Selling

OK, so you’re NOT stupid, and maybe some of it IS the economy. But we all know other professionals, business owners or sales professionals who use “The Economy” as an excuse not to be as profitable as they could be. Who knows, maybe even you’ve used this excuse. So how do you become more profitable in spite of the economy?

The answer is simple. Get back to basics. Do those things in your business, practice or profession that you used to do all the time and then forgot to do when the economy was good.

In this economic climate, unless you sell debt management services or barrel apparel, chances are there are fewer buyers in the market for your product or service. With the same amount of competition, this means that by default, it will be harder to get those same quality customers that you did when the economy was better. So how do you do it? Here are some specific suggestions:

Prep your customers for realistic expectations and then over-deliver. Base anticipated results on what your other customers are getting now, not when the economy was different, and then over-deliver. For example, if you promise delivery on Friday, ask them if Thursday is better.

Ask the right questions. If you’re not already doing so, start asking five new questions of every customer. Get to know your customers’ needs better. There are at least 43 different ways to ask a new question. If you email me through my website,, I will send you the list.

Sell more to your most loyal customers. You have customers that are more than fair weather friends. Because of your excellent relationship-building skills, they want to buy from you no matter what the economy does. Take advantage of this loyalty and find ways to either sell them more of what you are currently selling them or sell them other products or services.

Cultivate more customers. How do you get more customers? You ask for them. Simply tell your customer that your business gets new business the way most businesses get new business, by word of mouth. Then just say “Who do you know that we can help?” You’d be surprised at the number of quality referrals you’ll get. And don’t forget to reward those who have referred business your way.

There are other ways to cultivate new customers. If your product or service warrants it, go to the business next door or across the street from your current customer and introduce yourself. If it’s ethically feasible, sell to your largest customers’ competition.

Plan for the “No’s”: You will never get 100% of the business you ask for. Listen to why they are saying no. Know the four steps in overcoming a “no” and practice overcoming them. When a customer says no, ask them why and use their answer to improve your product or service.

Instead of discounting the price, give added value: Take the Baker’s Dozen approach: if they ask for 12, give them 13. Give superb customer service. If you make a promise, keep it.

Add the personal touch: Give your customers as much “face time” as is practical in your business or profession. It only takes two minutes to write a thank-you letter. That’s what customers remember, and that’s why they buy from you over and over again.

And finally, compromise on price only as a last resort: If you believe in the value of your product or service, you should be proud to charge a fair price. However, if you are given a choice between losing the customer and discounting the price, then you make whatever determination is best for your business. Offer alternatives that are lower in cost. If you do discount the price, tell them it will cost them more referrals (in a light tone, of course.) You then keep your current customer as well as gain future customers.

It’s not always the economy. Don’t believe everything you hear, read or see in the news. Most of us ARE still working and want to run successful enterprises. We need your product or service. There IS business out there. What most businesses need is a lead generation and sales system. When it doesn’t come to you, go after it!

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