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Selling In Tough Times – I

Deals are stalled; business decisions slow in coming – your sales forecast looks a little shaky.
We have all been afflicted to some extent by the knock-on effect of the recent economic slowdown on pending sales decisions. Your products and services are still as good as they ever were – or even better, right?

You’re still doing all the right things you ever did to close business and yet it’s just not happening for you the way it did before the economy dipped.

Selling in Tough Times

A famous definition of insanity describes it as “doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result”. If you’re still trying to sell the same people the same propositions as you did in the good times then the economy may have made you a little temporarily crazy– let’s get sane together!

I don’t know it all – but in this three-instalment series of posts I’m happy to share what I’m doing with my teams to get on top of this challenge.

First, I suggest giving your sales funnel a makeover before investing any more sales time and energy – identify your best opportunties and then focus upon them, and them alone. 

Take a hard look at all of the opportunities on your current sales forecast – be ready to be very critical in qualifying their likelihood of becoming real business.

Categorise every opportunity under one of these three headings:

1. Business that can be won in the short/medium term if the right things are done
These are the opportunities where there is still clearly a pressing need for what you’ve proposed, and the will and means to do business still exists.

2. Deals that look doubtful given the recent change in confidence
Some of your opportunities will probably qualify as “nice to have” as opposed to “must have” in the minds of your prospect. In tighter times these opportunities don’t die – they just don’t close; and the tantalising prospect of bringing them home can tempt you into investing even more time and effort into something that won’t produce anything for you in the short term.

Be ruthless – regardless of how much time or effort you’ve already invested into these deals be prepared to face the reality that they may not close for you until things start to look a little brighter.

If you preserve any of these for immediate attention it should only be because you have identified precisely what you can do RIGHT NOW to move them under heading 1.  If you have some that might come back to life later then simply park them and create a to-do to check them again in the near future.

3. Dead Deals
Bury them. Although it can be hard to walk away from a deal you’ve invested in heavily you simply can’t afford any further time and energy investment in hopeless cases. Stop working on them, quit investing resources in them, and stop even thinking about them. Save your time, energy and resources for real opportunities.

Take them off your forecast – don’t delude yourself.

Your immediate focus must be solely upon those deals that you feel you can win (those that made it to your list in point number 1 above).

In the next post I’ll tell you how I plan to do this – and I’ll start by looking at the importance of mapping the new decision-making process in each of your prospect accounts.

Part II of this mini-series, ‘The New Decision Making Process’ is here.

Part III of this mini-series, Reposition Your Value Proposition, is here.

Question: Is there anything else you’d suggest I should be doing with my sales forecasts at this stage?

Use the ‘Comments’ feature below to share your ideas