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10 Sales and Marketing Tips for a Tough Economy

February 20, 2009

Source: ProspectDB, Inc.
By: Forest Cassidy

When the going gets tough, the tough come up with solutions.

  1. Pitch: Come up with at least 3 reasons it makes sense for your clients to shift their budgets from other products/services to yours in a down economy.
  2. Products: Focus on products/services that are more likely to be seen as valuable to your clients in a down economy.
  3. Pricing: Keeping prices at current levels or continuing with standard price increases could hurt sales, lowering prices too much could eliminate profits. Find a price that gives your clients the feeling you are adjusting prices to help them get through this tough time, but does not eliminate your profits.
  4. Perception / Attitude: Make sure your sales team realizes that companies can still grow in a down economy. If your team is already holding the position that all companies suffer in a down economy, their sales will suffer. If they understand that many companies prosper in poor economic times, and believe that they can do so as well, they now have a chance to succeed. If they don't believe they can personally thrive despite the economy and/or that the company can thrive despite the economy, they have virtually no chance of success. Sharing many of the points from this article with individual employees and/or your entire team may help with setting perception and attitude.
  5. Team: Trim order-takers and keep those who vision-sell and build strong relationships. It's time to do some spring cleaning and let go employees with bad attitudes and a negative outlook. If employees are overly negative about the economy, their chances for success within the current economy, or the company's chances for success within the current economy, you will want to seriously consider removing them from your team.
  6. Medium: Consider utilizing more direct marketing and less "awareness" marketing such as TV, radio, billboards, ads in newspapers, and ads in magazines. You can also cut expensive physical direct mail campaigns and do more email marketing. Expand email marketing by having reps call on warm leads generated through email campaigns instead of cold calling. It is more efficient and you can accomplish more with fewer reps.
  7. Targets: Go after companies more likely to have a positive outlook. Very small companies are often the most scared and least likely to spend. Very large companies often institute blind company-wide spending freezes, especially with new vendors, regardless of how logical a purchase may be. Mid-market may be your sweet spot, but it is most important that you think this through and try to determine which companies are most likely to still be spending within your specific target markets.
  8. Vendors: Look for vendors that offer guarantees, pay-per-lead, or cost-per-acquisition campaigns. Measurable results and accountability from your vendors are more important than ever. Ask for and check references from potential vendors and make sure at least a couple of the references are with companies that you have at least heard of. Also, don't hesitate to ask vendors to cut you a price break in light of current economic times.
  9. Customers: Focus on existing customers, make sure they feel you are on their side in these tough times. At the same time, make sure they realize that your company's outlook is very bright (point out rationale in #1 above for why clients are likely to actually spend more with you during these times), so you are rock solid, stable, and will be here for the long haul. This also avoids making you appear desperate, which not only erodes confidence, but also weakens your position in price negotiations.
  10. Realize the Opportunity: Realize, and make sure you team realizes, that chaos is opportunity and many very successful companies and individuals got their starts during tough times. Competitors may be going out of business, leaving market share up for grabs. People lose their cool during tough times, and by keeping yours you can easily rise above them and gain even more market share. Most of all, you now have points 1 through 9 above under your belt, giving you a distinct advantage over those who do not.