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The Champion Forum Podcast

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TCFP207: Selling in a Down Economy

Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! As more and more economists predict job losses and warn of a looming recession, you may be wondering how you can keep your business moving in a positive direction. The good news is that I found ways to close sales throughout the recession of 2008-2009. Today, we'll talk about the changes you need to make to your approach to help your company succeed in a down economy.

Challenge Your Prospect

The discovery phase of the sales process will be the most critical piece. The top buying motives in a down economy are price driven. If you do what everyone else does, your prospect will decide based on price alone. Your goal is to get your prospect to realize what they really want, not just their preferred price.

Always ask yourself: What am I missing? When you do, you will determine their goals and their current strategy. Then, show them the evidence that contradicts their assumptions. Show them how spending money on your product can actually help reduce the pain point they are feeling that is leading to a loss of revenue or profit.

Gain agreement to explore the cost of the pain versus your solution. If you have credible evidence, this is a worthwhile investment of time for them. Make the goal of your conversation to solve their problem together. This will help you position yourself not just as a salesperson but as a consultant.

Q: What questions do you usually ask during the discovery phase? Which ones will be most important in a down economy? Why? What other buying motives are you seeing right now?

Show Deep Empathy

I have no problem with salespeople having a little bit of swagger. But with the economy the way it is, remember that your buyer is in pain. They are facing the possibility of layoffs, freezes on certain purchases, or even salary freezes.

Identify the prospects you can help the most and go deep with them. This advice is different from my usual focus on a high volume of prospects. But by focusing on and engaging with a handful of clients, you will be able to understand their position better and empathize with them.

You can expect a longer sales cycle than average. Don't get discouraged. Your buyer is likely facing internal pressure to cut costs, not make a new purchase. Your role is to guide the prospect and give them the confidence they need to be a champion for the internal battle. Your patience and empathy will go a long way in helping secure the sale!

Q: Do you currently employ a high or low-volume prospecting strategy? What does your current prospecting strategy look like? What changes do you think you should make based on this podcast?

Have the Mindset of a Problem Solver

Enter every sales conversation with the conviction that your product is the answer to your prospects' problems. Right now, many prospects are in trouble mode. They realize that their business is struggling and must change. Buyers in trouble mode are laser-focused on driving operating efficiencies that may not have seemed worth the effort in the past. Figure out how your product will support this need. The hardships create time pressure that you can use to call your client to action.

Q: How convinced are you on a scale from 1-10 that your company’s product is the answer to your client’s problem? What would help you feel more confident?

Application Activities:

  1. Build empathy by using LinkedIn to go deeper with your prospects. Start by getting to know their company. How are they doing? What new product are they pushing? Are they in the news? Why? What do current employees say about them? Spend time engaging with their content. When you initiate contact, try sending a personal video to them via LinkedIn messenger instead of calling them. Personal touches like these will help you stand out from the crowd.

  2. Evaluate your sales mindset. How do you feel when you go to pitch your product? A poor sales mindset is common for new salespeople. Still, it can also show up in experienced salespeople, especially when they consider their own attitude toward spending money in a down economy. Be honest with yourself, and think about how you can reframe the mindsets that keep you from serving your prospects. Remember that your product/service solves your prospect's problem, and it is worth its cost!

  3. Connect the data. As a salesperson, you have a lot of data about your product/service, its features, benefits, and impacts. Prepare for your clients' objections by sorting that data according to the problem it solves. You may have data that supports multiple issues, and that's okay! Having clarity and a plan will help you adjust to your client's needs as you move through the discovery process.


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