How to gain advantage in a down market
Everyone is complaining about the market.
Things are bad; the worst I’ve seen.
Business is slow and yet all of my clients are
doing well. They will survive this market and
come out strong on the other end. What are
they doing? So how can your company compete
and gain the advantage in this market?
Here is a peek:
* Extraordinary customer service
* Consistently asking for referrals
* Refining processes to become more efficient
* Consistently coaching salespeople
* Keeping salespeople focused on selling
by reassigning non-revenue generating activities
* Releasing salespeople with a bad attitude
and poor sales results
* Hiring the great salespeople that have
come available in this market
* Staying focused on the positive
* Telling success stories
* Finding the good news in the industry
and sharing it with customers
Be the best you can be. Are you giving
your customers extraordinary customer service?
Not sure? Ask them. Your best source of
business is always more business from your
existing customers. If they are happy they
continue to buy, and if they are really happy
they tell everyone they know. Turn your customers
into walking advertisements by giving
them extraordinary customer service.
Capitalize on happy customers. Do your
salespeople consistently ask for referrals? I
can answer that for you: if they ask, it is less
than 10 percent of the time. Why wouldn’t
they ask for a referral? Most likely because the
customer is not completely satisfied and they
are nervous about asking. The other most
likely reason is because they don’t think about
doing it. Now more than ever, they need to get
in the habit. Satisfied customers usually will
give a referral when asked.
If things have slowed down a bit at your
company it is a good time to clean house. Go
through your processes and do what you can
to refine them. You can hire an outside consultant,
but I will bet you have all the knowledge
you need in your workforce. Do a brainstorming
session. Ask them how processes can
be improved, ask them to help make the needed
changes, and reward them for doing it.
Are your sales managers really coaching
your salespeople or are they busy doing
reports, putting out fires, attending meetings
and selling because sales are down? Sales
managers need to spend 80 percent of their
time coaching their salespeople to close business.
If they are doing anything else you are
missing out on revenue.
Are your salespeople focused on sales?
How much time are your salespeople spending
in your office doing paperwork or following
up to see that orders are processed and
delivered? Your salespeople need time to be in
front of their customers learning about their
goals and needs, and doing what they can to
meet those. They need to increase the number
of customer visits each week. They need
to increase the number of prospects they see
each week. How can they do that if they are
sitting in the office doing paperwork?
Tired of the poor results some of your
salespeople are getting? If you are coaching
them properly, giving them time to sell, and
their results are still poor, it is time to cut
them loose, especially if they have a bad attitude.
I can’t tell you how many times I ask
clients,”Why do you keep this salesperson?” I
get a wide variety of excuses, but when it
comes right down to it, they know they should
have let the person go months ago. Not only is
the salesperson doing a bad job, but the “ick”
being spread by the bad attitude is upsetting
the other employees. Get rid of the ick!
Why would you hire in a down market? To
get a fantastic salesperson you might otherwise
not be able to get. Don’t be hasty though,
do a very thorough job. You don’t want to hire
another company’s problem. I caution you to
use a professional when hiring salespeople.
Focus is powerful. Get your whole company
focused on the positive. Positive words
need to come from everywhere in an organization.
If you don’t like the situation work
hard to improve it. If you can’t, get out.
Positive words need to flow freely throughout
a company. Everyone should be quick to recognize
a job well done. Senior level management
needs to show appreciation for work
well done. In fact, senior level managers
would do well to write at least one a week to
someone in their organization, especially
those who report to them. All employees
should be encouraged to speak up when they
see something good happening. We are so
quick to jump on the stuff people do wrong,
why not be quicker to jump on the stuff they
do right? Salespeople, especially, love appreciation.
They hear complaints all too often
about how all they do is take people to golf
and lunch. Every sale should be cause for a
Success stories should abound in your
company. They are everywhere. Success that
employees have with projects, success with
difficult situations, sales success, customer
success. It is hard to have a lot of grumbling
and complaining when you are telling success
stories. And why not focus on success? It is
well known that we get what we focus on. I
would rather have success than failure, so it
always bewilders me when companies are
focused on what is wrong with their operation
rather than what is right. Of course, we have
to continuously improve, but focus on what is
being done right. Share that, do more of it,
and gently correct the things that need to be
corrected, without bludgeoning anyone. If
they need to be bludgeoned, they probably
shouldn’t be working there!
Doom and gloom doesn’t usually put people
in a buying mood. All of the media attention
on what is going wrong affects the economy
in and of itself. There is plenty of good
news in your industry to share. Find it and
share it with your customers. Help them
understand what is happening in your industry
and dispel rumors. Be sure and combat
the bad news with the good news. This means
you will need to read your industry journals
and keep up with the media. Salespeople can
ask for success stories to share when they are
out visiting customers.
Stop complaining about the economy, the
market, your industry, slow business and start
making the changes needed to increase your
The unanimous approvals Wednesday came despite state leaders promising to tighten up requirements for Nevada’s tax abatements and incentives for future companies.