The Dark Months: When Selling Is Hard

These days it’s hard to open a newspaper or turn on the television without getting bad news about our country’s economy. Recession, corruption and the doubts that hang over our shoulders: When will this problem get better? How will this affect my sales?
But calm down! Every crisis also brings with it opportunities to develop business, improve solutions and conquer new markets and customers.
Despite the economic downturn in which we find ourselves today in Brazil, I will introduce you in this text to a slightly more specific approach. I will talk about the dark months!
How does market seasonality affect your business? How to overcome this challenge?

Calm! There is a light, and at the end of this text you will be able to overcome the months of darkness!
It is very common for a company to have a bull period and a bear period during the year. However, in certain cases, the downtime can be significant and end up resulting in something more critical such as a company bankruptcy, for example.
These bad months, added to a situation that doesn’t tend to help, end up becoming a big snowball. Therefore, it is essential to have cards up your sleeve that will help turn the tide!
Let’s face it, in economically difficult times we know that things tend to get worse before they get better. In general, you have two ways to handle this situation:

  • Fasten your seat belt! Cut costs, increase discounts and work with diminished sales revenue – hoping that bad times will pass and you’ll survive, waiting for the good times to return.
  • Lapidate yourself! Refine your business proposition and grow, improving your prospecting and selling skills – moving to look for new opportunities.

That’s right, look for other opportunities. While most of your competitors will try to cut costs and downsize, expand your pipeline, gain new customers and conquer new markets. The key to enduring tough times is not simply working harder, but working smarter.
You see, I’m not discouraging you from tightening your belt and cutting expenses. We know that it is imperative for a business to manage it in an austere and efficient way. However, difficult periods are windows for you to grow as a company as well.
Between the two alternatives mentioned above, I will develop throughout this text insights into the second. I hope you enjoy the tips and face the dark month’s head on!

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How to sell more in tough times?

As I said up there, selling more in tough times is mostly a matter of refinement. But to be a little more specific, I will say that the refinement must come with a certain “blood in the eyes”.
In the American market, the term hustle is often used when it comes to selling. They often say that time is never an ally and that the results you are looking for will simply not appear in front of you. If you don’t make the effort and run after it, someone will get ahead of you.

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

As it’s not easy to find a Portuguese term for hustle – if you know a good one, please share it – I’ll translate the term loosely as “blood in the eye”.
The blood in the eye is the real differentiator for achieving sales success. The article I quoted above about hustle has excellent teachings on how to behave in the sales “game” and manage to close more accounts.
I won’t go into much detail about hustling, but one factor I found very interesting cited in the article is that you must have a winning mindset – in the sales process there is no room for complaints, great salespeople don’t waste their time complaining and they don’t get involved with negative sellers. Embrace the no and head for the next bill!

Don’t be contaminated by negativity.
Leaving the “blood in the eye” part aside for a bit, let’s talk about how you can refine yourself.
I’ve outlined some actions you can start using today to ensure your sales increase. Come on:

  • Develop your selling skills. Prospecting and selling are skills that are related to your communication power. So improve your communication power to develop the other two skills. If you’re not selling it may be the economy’s fault, or it may be that you’re not selling right. Good skills will make you take advantage of existing opportunities. Otherwise, not having the necessary knowledge will make customers slip through your fingers.
  • Increase the number of qualified prospects you reach. In tough times, companies tend to cut back on marketing and prospecting tools. That’s a big mistake! Although it is not the ideal time to invest in large advertising campaigns, it is imperative that the lead generation and prospecting processes continue to run effectively.
  • Get ahead of your competitors’ customers. In tough times, customer loyalty becomes shakier. Maybe there is a product/service with certain specialties that your competitor doesn’t sell. Maybe your offer is better in terms of cost-benefit and the customer doesn’t know it. This is a good time to enter this market and draw attention to your company.
  • Find new markets and new applications for your solution. Reflect on your product/service and study if it suits a new market. Look for a blue ocean!
  • Find new ways to help your existing customer. How is your relationship with the customer? Is there a process for this loyalty? Later in the text I will go into detail about this last step.

The tips above require one thing in common: action. This is the moment when the blood in the eye enters the picture, aligning itself with the refinement in search of improvements in the process.

2 practical tips to overcome sales hurdle

In order to approach this topic in a less theoretical way, I will develop the text around two practical tips so that you can sell more in difficult times.

Customer loyalty

There are companies that cannot be satisfied with the customers they acquired and always want to prospect more. This is very important, of course. Attracting new customers is always good, it increases your chances of having more permanent customers.
But what are you doing for already won customers?
One of the classic mistakes is to forget about customers who are already loyal. Many consider these customers as “customers” and make no effort to continue to win them over.
Just stop to think: in difficult times, who will be more likely to continue with your product/service? Oldest customer or newest customer?
Of course, this depends on your relationship building with each customer, but the answer is more skewed towards old customers as they have a stronger connection to you.

So, remain attentive to the needs of your loyal customers. Maintain good and pleasant communication, always being helpful and helpful.
You can, for example, spend more of your time with these loyal customers. Ask more questions and try to list what are the characteristics of your product/service that make them remain loyal to your brand.
Customize your service. The treatment consumers receive is key in the loyalty process!

Up-selling and Cross-selling

Cross-selling and up-selling are after-sales techniques practiced by the sales team of Blue World City, where you basically sell something extra to your customer. The practical definitions of each of the techniques are:

  • Cross-selling is the practice in which you offer existing customers products that are complementary to those that have already been or are being purchased.
  • Up-selling is when you expose your customer to Premium products that are more expensive, encouraging the customer to spend a little more, but providing them with a better service/product in return.

Very common for SaaS solutions, such as the Netflix family model for example, these measures can also be adopted for products and services that are not necessarily software.
Want a classic example of cross-selling?
When asked if you want fries with your hamburger, or when the Amazon website tells you that customers who bought the exact same book you purchased, they are also interested in the ‘x’ or ‘y’ books.
In the case of up-selling, the employee will suggest a large drink for a modest price with your meal or – in the case of Amazon.com – inform you that if you pay an extra R$30, you can purchase a camera more modern, which has more memory capacity than what you initially thought of buying.
These strategies can be used in difficult times precisely because they are simple. Simplicity becomes your ally, since the consumer will be more likely to accept smaller solutions with less economic value, but that can be scalable for your product/service.
Therefore, it is worth considering a few factors when developing an up-selling or cross-selling strategy. Are they:

  • Keep the suggestions simple;
  • Control yourself: If you suggest something beyond what is necessary it will cause confusion in the buyer’s mind;
  • Build credibility: Offer solutions that generate value for the customer and not just for you;
  • Give visibility;
  • Offer differentiated prices and
  • Train your team.

Conclusion

It’s almost impossible to get through the dark months unscathed. Inevitably every business is likely to experience turmoil. The best thing to do is to keep in mind strategies to get around delicate situations.
Another posture to be adopted is knowing how to plan well. In this article about the biggest salesperson challenge at the beginning of the year , team of Capital Smart City wrote about the importance of planning a business and gave good tips for you to better plan your sales process.
Always seek to qualify and deepen your knowledge. Our blog is an excellent source of learning if you are looking to learn about marketing and sales. In one of our most recent posts, we’ve made a complete guide to SPIN Selling– the sales methodology that changed the way of doing business.
Remember that to stop selling in tough times you need to take action!

Try to refine your solution. For that, think about customer loyalty , up-selling and cross-selling strategies .
For more information on how to dodge the crisis and set up a killer sales process, contact our  team of consultants !
I hope this text helps you to go through the dark months in a peaceful way. If he has really helped you, why not share it with someone who wants a little help too?