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Selling in Tough Times – III

In the first post of this three-part mini-series on ‘Selling in Tough Times” we looked at the vital first step of cleaning up your sales forecast.

In the second post of the series we looked at how you uncover the new purchase process in each of your target deals.

You now have a forecast that contains only real deals that you genuinely believe you can close.  You have also have scoped out the new decision-making process for each of those deals.

In this final post of this series it’s now time to look at repositioning your offering to give you the best possible chance of winning the business.


When the buyers or purchase process in one of your key opportunities changes it’s key that you see how what you currently have on offer stacks up to the expectations of the new buyers.

When you first submitted your proposal the climate within the target organization may have been very different indeed.

Previous arguments and justifications for your proposal may have become redundant – if they were not formulated to appeal to particular motivations of a new set of buyers.

With all of the understanding you have of the new decision-makers and their motivations look critically at the business case you are currently promoting for your deal.

Will it appeal to these new buyers with their different priorities?

You’ll need to be convinced that your proposal stacks up under three main criteria:

Positioning. Be certain that all of your arguments and justifications will work two or three pegs higher in the organization – it’s key that you position your offering specifically to appeal to the motivations and objectives you’ve identified at this more lofty decision-making level.

Financial Justification. In tough economic times there is a greater focus on the basics – like cutting costs and increasing revenues.

While the issues that will have sold your original contacts may well still be important, it will now also be key that you carefully quantify the particular financial and strategic benefits that will accrue to them from implementation of your proposal.

Almost all substantial purchases being made currently will be backed up by strong Return-On-Investment cases. An IT industry watcher observed:

… most technology-driven businesses are reducing the amount they are spending on products, and are only focusing on a small number of projects with a faster payback…This means that companies whose sales propositions have a strong return on investment angle are closing new sales…

And it’s no different in any other industry – especially if your deals involve a sizeable investment.

Be sure that you have a strong financial justification that addresses what you now know to be the priorities of the now higher buyers.

Differentiation. Even if your newly constituted value proposition is well positioned and financially justifiable you could still be exposed if it suffers any element of “me too” – if it is not sufficiently differentiated from other competitors that may be vying for the same business.

Don’t forget your basic marketing – be sure that your proposition includes strong Unique Selling Propositions that put you head and shoulders above any potential competitors.

Completely remodel your value proposition until you are satisfied that your “new” proposal will fly in the new decision-making environment.

Now get back out and start selling again

Only now that you know what you need to sell, how best to position it, and who has to be sold, should you seek out your new buyers and begin the selling process anew.

Invest the time, energy and effort necessary to identify the potential winners in your sales pipeline; remodel your propositions to cope with changes in buying patterns and watch your sales go fast-forward.

Question: What else are you doing to get your sales teams back on track?

Use the ‘Comments’ feature below to share your best ideas