While the current layoffs and economic trends may continue, the sellers who survive this market and even grow during a recovery will be the ones who assume nothing and question everything.
“Will there 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 in a discretionary market?”
All are good questions that may position salespeople for success in a tough market. Some salespeople don’t ask these questions because they make assumptions based on history or perceived strength of customer relationships.
Here are five disastrous assumptions, according to John Golden, a consultant with Huthwaite, a leading sales improvement organization. Share them with your salespeople.
- “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 needs, developing them and clearly aligning customer 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 and good messaging. You have to hit prospects between the eyes and make them wonder whether they can survive without your products or services.
- “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 the market landscape is moving at warp speed. 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 up-to- date with your customers so you’re aware of any possible changes and opportunities ahead of the 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 demonstrate why spending money with you is critical at a time when they’re trying not to spend money with anyone.