By Ron S. La Vine
President of Accelerated Sales Results Telesales Training and Sales Training, Inc.
I came across an article in the Investor's Business Daily about "Selling in a Down Market" and I think it applies to selling in any type of market. My summary of the main points is below.
Below is an adaptation of an article "Selling in a Down Market" by Cord Cooper in the December 5, 2002 edition of Investor's Business Daily.
Cooper states that sales management has a choice in how to handle selling in a down market. He then goes on to give strategies for properly preparing your sales force.
Make your salespeople your first market.
They must be sold on what they are selling if clients are to be sold too.
A few of the questions in this section were:
"What is the minimum return our clients need from our products or services?"
"How can we out do that by 50% to 100%?"
"What has been the client's experience with the competition?"
"What sets us apart?" or "What is our unique selling proposition or specialization?"
Take some time during a sales meeting to discuss these questions, take notes of the answers, put them in an email and distribute them electronically via email so they can be modified and expanded by people throughout your company. You could be surprised at who comes up with unique ways to help a customer or make it easier for them to do business with your company.
Set service standards.
Define what the best type of customer service is and then measure and deliver it.
Sell your track record.
Get permission to use specific client's names and documented numerical results to increase your credibility.
Nail it down.
Don't assume the customer has a clear understanding of the details.
Be sure to go over information and especially contracts in detail.
If your start with a prospect's budget and vision it is easier to work backward and demonstrate how your product or service will fit their requirements.
Bridge the gaps.
Specify the results you want from your sales force, compare them to the current situation, and then center your strategy to bridge the gaps.
Don't promise more than your organization can deliver.
Promising and not delivering is as bad as hearing complaints and ignoring them.
Use prospects' names as marketing tools.
Create a seating chart in front of you and take note of their names.
Use their names during a presentation to gain attention, control conversations and underscore points.
Realize that past successes don't cut future deals.
Track client's post sales shifting priorities and work them into renewal contracts.
Put the customer in charge.
Adapt your company policies to meet the customer's needs.
The bottom line.
Let your customers be in charge by letting their needs drive your strategy. It worked for Sam Walton the founder of Wal-Mart and it will work for you too.