If you’ve been in sales for a while, then you’ve experienced selling during tough times.
Economic downturns, pandemics, or financial crashes are all difficult times to sell. Customers simply aren’t interested in spending money, or if they do, they wish to spend very little.
Starting a new sales job or launching a new product and meeting sales targets can also make for tough times.
The key to making it through these difficult times is your mindset.
Sales is a numbers game, and for that reason you need to keep moving forward, connecting with customers, and offering help.
We can’t always close a deal, but what we can do is continue opening opportunities that will close once the current circumstances subside.
To keep your mindset in check, use the following ten tips. They should become part of your “tough time sales manifesto,” helping you to remain motivated and to keep going.
Ten Tips for Selling During Tough Times
Here are ten tips I’ve been using and helping my coaching clients apply for nearly two decades. Combined, they are a powerhouse group of tactics that will keep you progressing and making sales.
1. Be careful who you listen to
The worst thing you can do when trying to sell during tough times is listen to anyone who is overly worried or pessimistic about the situation. For every disaster humankind has experienced, there has always been a recovery.
Make sure the opinions you are soliciting are those of people who are logical and educated and who have a positive outlook on the situation (and on life in general).
2. Garbage in, garbage out
If you watch or listen to the news, don’t. The media competes for attention, and for that reason they often report only the stories of doom and gloom.
If you must keep up with current events, then find a reliable source like the Wall Street Journal and skim through the business section online. Manage the information you consume, rather than sitting back and letting someone feed it to you.
3. Keep a growth mindset
Carol Dweck wrote a great book titled “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.” In her book Carol discusses two types of mindsets, growth and fixed. The former is a mindset that is open to new information and new ideas; the former, not so much.
I’d encourage you to grab a copy and read up to learn how you can shift your mindset to be growth oriented, which will help shape your perspective during difficult times.
4. Manage your self-talk
We all have that little voice that resides in our head. The problem is, we can’t just shut it out or walk away if that voice is telling us things that strike fear or doubt.
Be careful what you tell yourself. Your self-talk during tough times needs to remain optimistic and positive. If you want ideas on how to do this, refer to #3 and grab a copy of Carol’s book.
5. Adjust your activities
When trying to sell during tough times, we need to change our approach. Acting as if nothing has changed often seems cold and can turn prospects off.
Instead, acknowledge the current circumstances and turn your attention on the prospect or customer’s well-being. Some examples include:
- Increase your outbound calls but adjust your pitch.
- Send more handwritten cards, asking about how your customers or prospects are doing.
- Leave voice messages suggesting you are “checking in.”
During tough times, when we turn our attention to that of concern for the prospect or customer, we increase our chances of making the sale.
6. Modify your language (with prospects and customers)
Building on the point above, when you connect with customers or prospects, make sure you adjust your language.
Attempting to use the same approach or pitch as you did when times were good can suggest you’re insensitive. Instead, be prepared to acknowledge the circumstances, and then focus on language that demonstrates concern.
Bonus tip: If you can share stories and examples of how your product or service has helped others during the tough times, it will be well received by prospects and customers and open up sales conversations.
7. Re-set your goals and targets
One of the worst things sales professionals can do during tough times is to keep their current targets in place.
Instead make a temporary adjustment to your targets until the worst passes over. This may include making MORE outbound calls to apply #5 above but lower your expectations on the number of closes or time it will take to close.
8. Get picky about the company you keep
Be careful who you spend time with when times are tough. If, for example, you enjoy getting together with co-workers or other sales professionals, make sure they have a growth mindset like you.
You can’t always determine who you spend time with. But at minimum, manage the time within your control that you spend with pessimistic people.
9. Take frequent breaks
When times are tough, we carry additional stress. It might not feel like it, the stress and burden of fewer sales, especially as tough times drag on, weigh on us.
For that reason, introduce frequent breaks into your day. Go for a walk, pet your dog or get outside to enjoy some sunshine. Whatever you enjoy doing, do more of it.
It will help you remain optimistic and keep a growth mindset.
10. Use a daily script
I talked earlier about modifying your language. As you speak with prospects and customers, you’ll likely uncover phrases, questions and stories that get their attention or pique their interest.
Place these statements, stories and questions into a script and use it repeatedly. If it works with a few prospects, then you’ve landed on something you can use repeatedly to open doors to new opportunities.
Tough Times Don’t Last Forever
If you’re looking for a secret to selling during tough times, there is no secret.
Identify the two or three things above to try and incorporate them into your daily routine.
Once you’ve landed on a habit, then introduce another one.
The more of these tips you can introduce, the more confident you’ll be.
That’s what customers look for when seeking out solutions to their problems: someone who is confident in their ability to help and has an optimistic view.
Remember, selling during tough times don’t last forever but tough people do.
© Shawn Casemore 2021. All Rights Reserved.