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Posts Tagged ‘How to sell in a depressed economy’

Fishing in Troubled Waters!

November 12, 2013 4 comments

This article was featured last month in Dhanam magazine, Kerala’s leading business fortnightly.
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Thomas, the owner of Go Cabs, is a worried man – in the last six months his taxi service has been running on rocky roads and that’s not because the Government hasn’t filled the potholes. His problem is that clients who regularly hired vehicles from his fleet aren’t calling now.

Kumar, a resort-owner at Kumarakom, used to take pride in saying he is booked for the entire year but is now faced with the problem of finding ways to fill the room-nights even in the main tourist season.

And these are not isolated events!

Retail industry is complaining of huge drop in footfalls, automobile dealerships are fighting each other to grab the few buyers still left in the market and lack of interest in buying new apartments is forcing cash-strapped real-estate developers to delay projects. Sales teams in many organizations were facing an uncertain future due to steep fall in performance.

Most corporate buyers and individual consumers are buying just the essentials and avoiding non-critical purchases in this inflationary and unpredictable scenario.

So, how does one sell in such difficult times? Is there a game-plan to beat the recessionary trends in the market?

  1. Never lose sight of your best customers

In the booming market companies often ignored customers because there were enough buyers in the market. Service quality was poor. But in a recession suppliers and service providers need to pull up their socks and improve their performance. It’s important to listen to what they are saying, especially your biggest and most loyal customers, and serve them better. Retain your best accounts and you will have a steady revenue base to build upon. Downturns are good times to run loyalty programs that give your customers extra benefits and you additional business – try a Member-get-member program and tap into your goodwill!

  1. Meet more customers

Yes, it’s time for everyone in the organization to leave their chairs and go in search of buyers. Make more visits, see more prospects and make your products more visible. Everyone in the organization should operate in the Selling mode – train non-Sales employees on your product portfolio and tell them to get leads for your Sales Team.

  1. Be seen as an essential

Can you develop themes that make your products/services indispensable? Can your offerings become part of your customer’s list of essentials? Can a holiday Resort reposition itself as a value-for-money incentive item or a destination for a Sales Conference? In difficult times organisations need to motivate their sales team and that fits nicely into the Resort’s business plan.

  1. A Pull Product or Scheme

For eg., restaurants and retailers can run campaigns based on “Item(s)-of-the-day/Week”. Such item(s) can be attractively priced (at cost price or a thin margin) to pull customers in and then they can be convinced to buy additional other products, which are sold at regular margins. White Goods dealers can run “Only-for-Today” schemes that compel buyers to speed up their buying decisions. Tying up with finance companies to offer staggered repayment option can help improve sales.

  1. Find alternate channel

Good quality Salespersons are hard to find and the ones you have often don’t stay long enough or don’t seem interested to make the effort. So it may be smart to find other ways to sell your product. Our Resort owner and Taxi-fleet owner can help each other sell by working out a deal to promote each other’s services. Banks are Sales Channels by insurance products; restaurants sell books, clothes and jewelry. Can you work out a deal with another business to promote your products?

The Internet is now available as a smart, low-cost way to reach more customers. What is your net-strategy? How good is your presence on the Internet?

It’s true that the economic scenario is bleak – but it’s not as if customers have disappeared, they have only become harder to find. You need to widen your net to catch them.

Stick to basics! Economic downturns are good times to recalibrate your business objectives and to test your strengths. Improve your Sales Strategy and sharpen the skills of Sales Team because it’s in such times that you need them to perform at the highest potential.

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Jayadev Menon is a Sales Consultant / Trainer – you can reach him at jayadev.menon@akshworld.com

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