Tips for selling in a tough economy

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LONG ISLAND, NY — The economy stinks right now for most of us, but there are still plenty of opportunities.
You can give in to the gloom or you can dig in and do the things you need to do in order to survive and thrive, no matter what the economic indicators tell us. Here are my thoughts on how to prosper now:

1. Prospect like there’s no tomorrow.
For most, the low-hanging fruit has dried up but there are still prospects that need what you have to offer. You might need to double or triple your prospecting efforts but the prospects are out there. Invest your time in finding them. Some of the top salespeople I know spend almost 50 percent of their day prospecting. Do you?

2. Make it easy for your prospects to find you.
While your competitors are cutting back, I suggest that now is the time to market and advertise more than ever before. Keep your name in front of your prospects and clients regularly. If you don’t make sure your prospects think about you when it’s time to buy, your competitors will take them away.

3. Understand why people buy.
People tend to buy from people they like and trust. Under-promise and over-deliver; keep your word, and go above and beyond the call of duty. In this environment it’s more important than ever to find ways to help your prospects succeed, even if helping them now doesn’t benefit you immediately.

4. Understand why people buy from you.
Customers buy based on the relationship they have with you and the value that you bring to them, not price, in most instances. Make sure your customer feels special, like they’re the most important person in the universe. (They are.) Be interested in them and their world.

Did you ever notice that when someone is interested in you, they’re more interesting to you? Make sure you can clearly communicate the value that you bring to the table in a way that is readily apparent to those you sell to. Ask your best customers why they do business with you. The answers might be surprising and will help you know how to sell to others.

5. It’s all about the benefits.
Salespeople focus on explaining the bells and whistles of their offering (features). In fact, the customer is only interested in what your product or service does for them (benefits).

While you need to discuss the features of what you’re selling, the main focus has to be on the benefits to the buyer. Go out of your way to make sure customers understand what’s in it for them when they do business with you.

6. Stay in touch.
Keep in regular contact with your clients and prospects. People like to believe they aren’t just a paycheck to you. Show them they’re important with calls, e-mails, newsletters, cards, etc. Be highly responsive to all of their communications, even those regarding problems.

7. Handle customer service issues quickly and with a smile.
Little annoys a customer more than being ignored when they have a problem. Return all calls and e-mails promptly. (I return all calls and e-mails within 24 hours no matter where I am in the world.)
Be happy to take care of challenges. Quickly and happily fixing a problem not only leaves the customer feeling good about you, it often provides you with an opportunity to sell more.

8. Keep your attitude up.
While it’s easy to buy into the gloom and doom in the news, it does you no good. People prefer to deal with someone with a strong, positive, upbeat attitude. It feels better to you and makes you more attractive to others. Find things to feel grateful for and positive about every day. Stay far away from negative influences.

9. Sharpen your skills.
Now is absolutely the time to invest in yourself and your skills. Like many others, the training market has taken a hit as companies slash their budgets in an effort to survive. Little, however, is more important right now than investing in your personal development so that you are able to take advantage of every possible opportunity. Read, attend seminars, listen to CDs and watch DVDs.

10. Realize that this too shall pass.
I recently attended a seminar by world thought leader James Arthur Ray, where he shared the following thought: Year after year, one season follows another. It’s always been that way and it will continue to do so. Right now we’re in an extremely cold, winter economy but after winter there’s always spring.

Do the things you need to do to make the most of this current situation using the steps above and you’ll not only make it through the winter, you’ll be among the forerunners of the turnaround (spring) when it comes.

Jeff Goldberg is a professional speaker, sales trainer and co-author of “How To Be Your Own Coach — Six Simple Questions for Achieving Your Goals.” He can be reached at (516) 608-4136, jeff@jgsalespro.com or at www.jgsalespro.com.