I Could Sell Ice to Eskimos
While economic trends, reorganization and layoffs may continue, the sellers & marketers who survive this market and even grow during a recovery will be the ones who assume nothing & question everything. There are always solid opportunities out there!
“Will there be a budget to buy my products and services? How many of my customers will still be in business? Is what I’m selling seen as critical or even relevant in today’s discretionary market?”
Good questions that can position salespeople for success in a tough market. Some salespeople don’t ask themselves enough questions because they make assumptions based on history or perceived strength of customer relationships.
I could sell ice to Eskimos&, the truth is, I’ve always thought I could…..but should I? One day….won’t that Eskimo wake up and say “Yikes! What was I thinking and what the hell am I gonna do with all this ice???”
Here are some unfortunate even disastrous sales assumptions.
- “I know how to sell. I’ve been a top-performing salesperson for many years.” Your salespeople should ask themselves: “How many of my deals did I really sell by uncovering my client’s needs, developing them and clearly aligning those needs to capabilities and outcomes? In a market where prospects are in “denial of needs” or “we’ll make do with what we have,” how confident are you in your ability to do business with a budget-constrained buyer?
- “I may not have had to prospect much in recent years, but I still know how.” Salespeople no longer have the luxury of waiting for business to come to them. The prospecting they used to do years ago may not work in the current business climate. Prospecting in uncertain times isn’t just a matter of good research & messaging. You have to hit prospects between the eyes and make them wonder whether they can survive without your products or services & what sets you apart from your competitors.
- “At least I can rely on my current customers.” Your existing customers may have been predictable in their buying patterns. That may no longer be true, for a lot of reasons. It’s a good idea to go through your customer list and question every aspect of it. Is you decision maker still the ultimate decision maker? Are the drivers for purchasing your products or services still critical to the customer?
- “I know my customers and prospects pretty well.” That may have been true in the past, but not only is the market landscape moving at warp speed, the ‘space’ around it is moving even faster. You can’t be sure how good or up-to-date your information is, even with your best customers. Some prospects are being bought and others possibly downsized. There is no such thing as too much information in this environment. Stay completely current with your clients so you’re aware of any possible changes and opportunities ahead of your competition.
I have presentations that work.”
Have you simplified your presentations to make sure they’re tailored to prospects with exceptionally busy schedules and who struggle with fewer resources? Prospects need something tangible that will deliver fast return and demonstratewhy spending money with you is critical at a time when they’re trying not to spend moneywith anyone. Have you identified not only your prospect’s personality (analytical, expressive, amiable, dominant) but also your own & tailored your presentations accordingly?
These are just some of the important assumptions that you, your staff, or anyone in the sales & marketing process must continually refine to not only stay relevant but position themselves at the head of the pack as peak performers in our profession.