Life, nature, business, and the economy are all cyclical. We go through times of abundance and growth, idleness or plateau, and, unfortunately, decay and scarcity. Right now, the experts are telling us we are facing the downturn of the cycle, and our day-to-day lives as sales professionals may become more challenging as a result.
Mediocre performers on a sales team will stand out if things start to go south and the economy heads toward a recession. It’s important to note that these cycles of scarceness and volatility exist to clean the slate, which can in effect be good for business. Sales professionals must prepare if they don’t want to find themselves on the wrong side of “good for business” – meaning without a job and income.
We can’t stop a recession from coming and the hard times from hitting, but we can control our actions, reactions, and preparations. Here are four great reminders for salespeople in volatile times.
- Don’t skip steps in the sales process. The coronavirus pandemic has been taxing, and there’s no diminishing that. However, the economy has been plugging along, and it has been relatively easy to succeed in the past 18-24 months. In times of abundance, we forget the fundamentals and abandon the basics. Sometimes, we can even skip steps in the sales process and still win. Maybe we aren’t asking the right questions or building as tight of relationships as we should be, but, in times of abundance, we can still survive. Now, in the face of volatility, the only thing that can give salespeople a boost is concentrating on the basics. Discipline in your sales approach will allow you to focus on the correct processes and systems. Execute the sales process systematically and methodically; it’s there for a reason. The better you execute the sales process, the higher the probability you will close the deal.
- Utilize a communication and objection handling model. The objections you will receive in a period of recession or volatility may not be your typical objections. They will not be around price or perceived quality; they will be objections to deferring any purchase decision, and salespeople need to know how to handle these objections better. Utilizing a repeatable model like LAER: The Bonding Process® demonstrates empathy, reduces tension, and will result in more effective handling of complex objections during times of volatility.
- Protect your mindset. In times of scarcity, the winners are those who learn how to rise above hardship and stress from a mindset standpoint. This involves a few things. First, remember the importance of staying positive and, whatever you do, avoid complaining. I once heard someone say that complaining is misery’s mating call. When you complain, you pull in others – creating a vicious cycle that can come back to bite you. Next, identify and stay away from people who will pull you down. When winter comes, there will be a lot of unprepared employees who will try to take you down with them. Be a source of light and inspiration. Be the person who is offering to help. A leader wants to see that you are taking ownership, that you are taking action, and that you are working to make yourself better.
- Work harder. Let this be your (probably unpleasant) reminder that it’s time to work harder. Your customers and prospects are not going to call you. You have to go out and call them. To sell successfully in times of volatility, you can’t be a transactional sales rep or cut corners in your sales process. You must do better, qualify better, explore better, and present better, which will require a lot of hard work.
Sometimes, even when you do everything right, there will still be disappointing outcomes, and not everything will go your way. But be resolved, have discipline, and keep the faith that – if you consistently do the right things – you will win more often than you lose. Execute the sales process systematically and methodically, utilize an objection-handling model, protect your mindset, and work hard. You will outperform others and be successful in these volatile times.
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Jeff Seeley is the CEO of Carew International.