From the April 2009 Issue of Senior Market Advisor Magazine
With a slowing economy comes a fiercer, more competitive market that will require you to set yourself and your products apart from your competitors. It’s easy to make excuses for poor sales performance in an economic downturn, but a successful salesperson will find opportunities to increase revenue. Here are a few ideas to help you reach your goals:
1. set goals and plan accordingly
When the economy turns sour don’t put yourself in a position of scrambling for business. Take a look at your target market to reevaluate how you’ve done business in the past and determine how your customers’ needs have changed as a result of the economic climate. Once you have an understanding of these fundamentals, you can set realistic business goals and charge forward until they have been met.
2. invest in training
In a down market, you will be competing against the best and the brightest. It’s imperative to have cutting-edge knowledge and experience to take the lead in the sales force. Play it smart and invest in ongoing training even though it may seem counterintuitive to be spending money during a bad economy. You’ll find the return to be well worth the investment. Don’t hesitate to inform your clients of any up to date information you may have learned. They will be impressed that you are taking the initiative.
3. networking strategies
Networking can be a powerful tool for developing new business relationships. However, not every gathering has the potential for making quality contacts. Selectivity may be in your best interest when it comes to attending networking events. This will ensure that you have a target audience filled with potential customers. Remember that your ultimate goal for the event is to make contacts. Successful salespeople are assertive and are able to introduce themselves without being forceful. By the end of the event you should have a list of contacts. Whatever you do, don’t make the ultimate mistake of forgetting to follow-up.
4. don’t wait for your clients to call you
Existing clients are your best resource. Customers are all too often lost because their salesperson never took the time to follow-up after the initial sale. Staying in close contact with them builds trust and long-term relationships. It’s important to keep the client up-to-date on new products and marketing materials. However, it’s also vital that you keep yourself current on the ever-changing needs of your clients. The doors to new sales and cross-selling opportunities will open by just listening.
5. ask for referrals
A referral is commonly thought of as the highest form of compliment you can give a sales professional. However, customers rarely provide a referral without being asked. Most often, it’s up to you to take the initiative to ask for additional contacts. All too frequently, sales professionals are afraid to ask, don’t feel they have a good rapport with the client, or simply forget. The proper timing of asking for a referral can depend on the situation. Most often, it is appropriate to wait until you build a relationship with the client, although, it might be acceptable to ask if you know the client is excited about a recent purchase. Don’t be discouraged if a referral doesn’t have a need for your product or service. It is possible they will in the future or know someone who does.