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The upside of down

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Let’s face it: No matter how unique your products and services are or how superb your sales track record is, selling in today’s still-tumultuous market is challenging. Prospective clients are increasingly cautious and hesitant to buy, sales cycles are getting longer and existing clients are forgoing new purchases and making do with what they have.

But rather than focus on the downside of a down economy, consider the upside of a down economy — upside of the down. While everyone else is running around depressed, you have the opportunity to radically change your approach to selling. And if you’re willing to commit to your new approach, you have a better-than-even chance of exponentially multiplying the lifetime monetary value of your accounts. This is selling by being valuable.

Today selling based on outcomes and value makes more sense than ever. Here are a few ideas on becoming more valuable in the eyes of your buyers:

  1. Commit to learning what your prospects want to accomplish. Learn why it’s important to them. Inquire sincerely and really listen. And dig. Don’t just accept the first few answers; they are typically superficial. Ask genuine questions about what your prospects are up to. Learn about their initiatives, goals, challenges and concerns.
  2. Create a success library. Do you have an accessible collection of articles, websites, audios and other media of interest to your prospects? Obviously, you want to provide information pertaining directly to your products and services, but you may also wish to include resources that don’t necessarily promote your offerings.
  3. Provide educational and training programs. Doing so will position you as an expert in your field and people like to buy from experts — especially those they know, like and trust. These can be live, in-person events or virtual ones, such as teleseminars and webinars. They may be free or fee-based. To add greater depth of value, bring in experts from complementary fields.
  4. Create a “success rolodex” and share it freely. You might not be the best solution-provider in every case, but you probably know someone who is. Do you have a rolodex of proven, reliable collaborators (even those in the same field)? Perhaps a competitor could better serve a customer’s immediate needs. If you can cultivate a spirit of generosity and serving the best interests of the customer, you can turn your competitors into collaborators.
  5. Develop a mindset of contribution. Readily share ideas on how your prospective and existing customers can achieve their goals and initiatives. Weave ideas into your sales conversations. Yes, there’s a risk of confusing your buyers or moving away from what you offer. But if you approach your clients with a spirit of genuine concern, you probably won’t need to worry about that.

In a sense, selling from the perspective of adding value becomes elevated to the level of education and knowledge-sharing. It becomes a way to contribute to the welfare of others.

Making this a normal part of your selling approach is certain to position you as a leader in your field. You will become a resource for your clients, who will sense your higher motives, pledge you their loyalty and recommend you to their friends.

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Jonathan Farrington is a globally recognized business coach, mentor, author, consultant and chairman of The JF Corporation and CEO of Top Sales Associates. For more information and tips from Jonathan, visit, or go to his blog at