Selling success can be seasonal. It can be dependent on the features of the product, the needs of the customer, or the drive of the salesperson. Selling almost never exists in a vacuum. The last few years have been hard on wholesale and retail sales alike and it doesn’t look like there’ll be a big turnaround any time soon. Succeeding and even surviving in the current sales climate will ultimately be a function of adapting and crafting sales out of weak prospects and with scanty encouragement. The days of getting rich harvesting the “low hanging fruit” are over. It’s time to take a look at other options.
Selling in a Tough Market
Don’t lose your drive. After 20 near misses, it’s easy to lose your confidence, but selling isn’t about the misses, it’s about the hits. The only way you’ll be able to turn your luck around is to stay focused and in control. Staying positive is a cliché, but the notion gets the attention it does because it works.
Improve your skills. If your current strategies aren’t working as well these days, cultivate some new ones. A refresher sales course will remind you of some things you’ve forgotten and make you aware of some new strategies you may never have considered otherwise.
Get out there. If you get out into the marketplace and start promoting your company, your products, and your services, some good press and a few sales are bound to come your way. Will there be some wasted effort? Sure. But it’s a certainty that doing nothing will yield nothing. Volunteer; become an active member of your community, and start a dialogue that gets your name out there. It can’t hurt, and it may help.
Do it better. No company, product, or sales approach is perfect. Work now to improve everything about your business. Make sure your sales staff knows your products inside and out. Make sure they understand the competition too, and recognize why you do it better. If you can sell your sales staff on the superiority of your product, you can sell anybody. Go over your product designs, your supply chain, your manufacturing process, your sales methods and your marketing strategy. There are ways to do things better, faster and cheaper. Find them.
Beat the bushes. Don’t wait for customers to come to you, look for sales like your life depends on it. Ask for referrals. Give everyone your business card. Explore every viable option to up-sell or cross-sell. Go over your past accounts and reanimate old customers. Make sure you’ve exploited every way you can think of to leverage new sales from your existing customer base.
Investigate smaller opportunities. If your sales force is focusing on big, month-saving sales, have them siphon off some time and enthusiasm for smaller opportunities. They add up.
Don’t be myopic. You need sales this week, but you’ll also need sales in six months to a year. Don’t focus all your efforts on short term returns, start investing in future sales today. That way you’ll have something in the hopper for later.
Times are hard, but when the dust settles, there’ll be small businesses, hopefully yours among them, that managed to survive the troubles. If you stay focused, active, aggressive and upbeat, you’re more likely to be around when things begin to improve.