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Shane Gibson Keynote Speaker | Social Selling | Sales Trainer | Social Media Strategy

Posts Categorized / Selling In Turbulent Times

  • Oct 17 / 2008
  • 2
Leadership, Sales Articles, Sales Blog, Sales Training, Selling In Turbulent Times

Selling in Turbulent Economic Times Blog Part 2

Selling in Tough Economic Times economic cycle diagram copyright 2008 Bill Gibson and Shane Gibson.Looking at the diagram of economic cycles included in this article we notice one major thing; these peaks and valleys are driven by raw human emotion.  At the top of an economy people do not just spend the money they are making, they spend the money they think they are going to make.  Eventually, banks and lending institutions pull back finance due to the fact that en masse, the average person and average business is over- extended.

When this credit is pulled back, people reduce purchases; this creates negative news, bulging inventories, fear and panic.  In service businesses bulging inventory is people.  Lay-offs begin, purchases reduce, inventory is liquidated, and more bad news hits the marketplace and the fear multiplies.  The severity of this most recent downturn has been created by the evaporation of available credit due to the insolvency of so many major banks.  Eventually we hit a point of excessive pessimism in the marketplace. (I had to dig through the entire business section of the New York Times to find one positive article yesterday).

The question is: “What stops the economy from continuing its downward plunge?”  The answer is of course “Smart Money.”  We all can recite the phrase “buy low and sell high” and a few smart individuals begin to do just that.  The “Smart Money” is bargain hunting for everything from stock to real estate, and corporate acquisition targets stabilize the market, it creates the floor.  From there the tide begins to turn as optimism builds.

You as a sales person or entrepreneur don’t have to have Warren Buffet’s billions to profit from this environment, but you do need his mindset.  Realize that your competitors, not unlike today’s investors, do not see the real value of the market, and most are refusing to really play.  They are too busy hiding out by the water cooler and watching the stock ticker and the negative news on CNN.

So here are 7 tips on how to profit from today’s economic downturn:

  1. Build a fence around your key accounts.  Of those clients that you are presently doing on-going business with, how many do you have really strong relationships with?  Make a list of your top 20% and immediately call them, if possible go visit them.  Not to sell them stuff, but to find out how you can better service them.  If things are really slow, take advantage of it, engage them more, buy them the lunch you never had time to when the economy was hot.
  2. Harness physical and web-based networks in order to connect with positive people.  Most of us have goals and dreams that require resources beyond those that we possess.  By engaging your online and offline communities, sharing resources, ideas, and inspiration, you can collectively achieve greater things.  Now is not the time to go to less Board of Trade meetings, it is the time to really connect.
  3. Reach out beyond your existing community with social networking tools such as Linkedin, Twitter, and FaceBook.  Recently as a resident of Vancouver, BC Canada I secured a new client in Asia through my blogging and activity on Linkedin, while some of my existing markets are suppressed, I am finding new ones across the Pacific Ocean using technology (free technology!).
  4. Have a pro-active game plan for every day.  You have fewer competitors now, and the ones that are still in business are probably not that motivated.  This trend will continue until we reach the bottom of the downturn.  This is the time to gain market share.  Get to work an hour early, and plan your day out the night before.  It may take more calls to land the same number of clients, but also realize that you will be able to gain more market share due to less competition, or at least a mentally weaker competition.
  5. If you have some cash reserves start investing in your business.  If you use advertising as a tool to attract clients you can now negotiate a better rate with publishers, and because competitors have pulled back their ad spend your message will have less noise to compete with in the marketplace.  Fuel prices have dropped and people are traveling less, this also means better rates for business travel to far-away markets.
  6. Take control of your own mental economy.  The most expensive thing we can do as sales professionals and business people is have a day of negative thinking.  When we are focusing on what we don’t have, and we are wallowing in our own self-pity, we’re not thinking about creating positive business outcomes.  My suggestion is to commit to reading at least 30 minutes of positive news, or personal development books per day, find some great motivational CD’s or podcasts (iTunes has thousands that are free) and pro-actively seek out and associate with other people that are refusing to participate in the recession.
  7. Be disciplined in your execution.  At the top of an economy when clients are abundant and optimistic, closing the deal is easy.  If you miss a deal because of bad follow-up, or a poorly written proposal there is always more opportunity out there.  Anyone can look like a rainmaker when things are hot.  When things slow down our bad habits become more evident.  When you do have a great prospect in your sights, have a sound sales process and follow the fundamentals of great selling obsessively.  There are no mundane steps in a sales process, treat every detail like it is the deal-maker, especially when prospects are fewer and more easily dissuaded to buy.

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle. ” – Abraham Lincoln

  • Oct 17 / 2008
  • 10
Leadership, Marketing and PR, Sales Articles, Sales Blog, Selling In Turbulent Times

Selling in Turbulent Economic Times Blog Part 1

Many sales professionals and entrepreneurs are  concerned about how they are going to weather today’s global financial storm.  We are clearly in turbulent economic times, but not universally tough times.  The rules of the game have changed with the advent of a multitude of shifts including the introduction of disruptive technologies to almost every industry, along with true globalization and the meltdown in the banking sector.

As sales professionals we have to realize that it is not the events in our lives, but our interpretation and response to those events that will impact our level of success.  John Maxwell goes further than this to state: “A leader is defined by the size of the crisis.”  The core message here is that almost anyone can captain a ship in fair weather, but during a storm or turbulent conditions it becomes obvious which people truly should be wearing the rank of Captain.

As the storm hits the shores of our industries and communities many people will begin to jump ship, looking for safe harbors or metaphorically tying themselves down and just waiting for the storm to pass.

It is impossible to write on this subject without reflecting on the millions of people whose lives have been affected by what is going on in these turbulent economic times. It is equally clear that this is also a time of immense opportunity to define ourselves in this crisis as leaders in our industries and respective professions.  You can succeed in this present state. In fact, in many industries this is a time of unparalleled opportunity.

What I do know is that in North America alone there have been major recessions or turbulent times approximately every 7 years since 1900.  In each of these instances there were people who panicked, froze, or opted out of society in general and some never recovered.  On the other side there were people who prospered; in fact there was more new wealth created coming out of the great depression than any other time in history.  If your in the profession of selling, turbulent times can be a gift. This represented a major shift in the world power base from an economic standpoint as well.

Just to illustrate this point here’s a run down of the level of turbulence in the economy over the past 100 years, look at these trends and you decide when the best time to be selling or marketing.  I personally think it’s not about the environment but our reaction to it that determines our destiny.

An overview of turbulent times in the past 80 years.

1930’s

1929 Wall Street Crash
1934 Depression
1935 Spanish civil war
1937 Recession
1938 War clouds gather
1939 War in Europe

1940’s

1940 France falls
1941 Pearl Harbour
1942 Wartime price controls
1944 Consumer goods shortages
1945 Post-war recession predicted
1946 Dow tops 200 – “too high“
1947 Cold war begins
1948 Berlin blockade
1949 Russia explodes A-bomb

1950’s

1950 Korean War
1951 Excess profits tax
1952 U.S. seizes steel mills
1953 Russian H-bomb
1954 Dow tops 300 – “too high”
1955 Eisenhower ill
1956 Suez crisis
1957 Russia launches Sputnik
1958 Recession
1959 Castro seizes power

1960’s

1960 Russia downs U-2 plane
1961 Berlin Wall erected
1962 Cuban missile crisis
1963 Kennedy assassinated
1965 Civil rights marches
1966 Vietnam War escalates
1967 Newark race riots
1968 USS Pueblo seized
1969 Markets fall

1970’s

1940 France falls
1941 Pearl Harbour
1942 Wartime price controls
1944 Consumer goods shortages
1945 Post-war recession predicted
1946 Dow tops 200 – “too high“
1947 Cold war begins
1948 Berlin blockade
1949 Russia explodes 70 Cambodia invaded
1972 Record US trade deficit
1973 Energy crisis
1974 Nixon resigns
1977 Market slumps
1978 Interest rates rise
1979 Oil prices skyrocket

1980’s

1980 Interest rates at all-time high
1981 Steep recession begins
1982 Worst recession in 40 years
1983 US Marine barracks bombed
1984 Record federal deficits
1985 Economic growth slows
1986 Dow nears 2000 –”too high”
1987 Record market fall
1988 Junk bond scandal
1989 October “Mini-Crash”

1990’s

1990 Persian Gulf crisis
1992 Riots sweep Los Angeles
1993 Bombing of World Trade Centre
1994 Rising U.S. interest rates
1995 Oklahoma City bombing
1997 Collapse of Thailand economy 1998 US impeachment proceedings
1999 Y2K

2000’s

2000 Internet stocks plummet
2001 September 11
2002 Corporate earnings scandal
2003 Iraq war
2004 Oil price rockets
2005 Oil price rockets further
2006 Emerging market sell-off
2007 Sub-prime crisis
2008 More of the same!

Even with all of the negative news that we have been bombarded by there are still positive things happening in the marketplace.  For instance, in Canada there has been a record drop in the currency value and the stock market, yet there were still over 100,000 new jobs created in the same month (September 2008).  This is the largest one-month gain since they started keeping records in 1976.  This was coupled with a 4.6 percent year-on-year increase in average wages (inflation was 3.5 percent).

We have so many dichotomies in the marketplace because this is not just about an economic downturn. The rules have changed, and technology and globalization have had real impact on how we do business.  We are no longer economic islands and those that realize that and embrace the new landscape can win, just like the legions of millionaires created during the great depression.
There are a few things we can count on at the bottom of an economic cycle:

  1. You will have fewer competitors during turbulent times than you did during easier times.  Many will go out of business, or pull back any proactive efforts that cost money.
  2. Those competitors that are left will be less motivated.  Most will make fewer calls, spend more time watching negative news, and lack the confidence they had when getting orders was easy.
  3. Your competitors will spend less on advertising and training.  There will be less noise in the marketplace and they will also stall in the areas of personal and professional development.
  4. Your competitors will pull back and isolate themselves, becoming self-focused, further spiraling their motivation level and reducing their networking, selling, and community connections.
  5. Many people will resist trying new things and getting creative, sticking with what has always worked.  The problem is, of course, that what got them here, is not what is going to get them to where they want to go.  A new economy needs a new playbook.

Check back shortly for part 2 of this blog post

  • Oct 08 / 2008
  • 7
* Sales Podcast, iPhone Podcasts, Sales Training, Selling In Turbulent Times

Selling in Tough Economic Times Sales Podcast

Today’s sales podcast is about Selling and Succeeding in Tough Economic Times.  It is the first in a series of podcasts designed to help sales professionals and entrepreneurs weather today’s global financial storm.  In my opinion we are truly in turbulent economic times, not necessarily tough times.  The rules of the game have changed permanently with the advent of a multitude of shifts including the introduction of disruptive technologies to almost every industry along with true globalization and the meltdown in the banking sector.  I personally would like to have you post your success stories, challenges, and thoughts here so that I can respond to them in my next podcast on “Tools for Selling in Tough Economic Times”.  The diagram below is for your reference and is talked about in the podcast.

Here’s today’s show:

Selling in Tough Economic Times economic cycle diagram copyright 2008 Bill Gibson and Shane Gibson.

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