Okay, what now?
I’ve said before that the motto for this decade should be, “Oh no, what now?”
Maybe it’s confirmation bias, or maybe it really does seem that industry is plagued by one challenge after another. From COVID shutdowns, to supply chain issues caused by COVID, to natural disasters, and supply chain issues caused by those, it really does feel like one thing after another.
Now, on top of everything else, I’m seeing in all of the verticals I monitor that business is slow, both nationally and regionally. Not for everyone, but for a lot of people. There are far too many. It’s difficult to quantify, and even more difficult to explain why, which is beyond the scope of this editorial.
But that’s okay. We’ve seen this before, one way or another. And while we may have no control over the way things are at a macro level, we still have control over the things we can control.
At the risk of pointing out the obvious, it’s much easier to make sales when business is booming. Conversely, it’s not quite so easy when things are slow. When business is practically knocking on your door and all the fruit on the tree couldn’t be hanging any lower, those are fun times, but that also leads to bad habits.
It’s when business is coming to them that salespeople get lazy and their managers hide in their office, browsing the “build your own” configurator on luxury car brand websites.
No one is too concerned if a lead slips through the cracks here and there. There’s more where that came from, right? But what happens when it’s not like that? When that flood of prospects dries up to trickle?
Well, that’s when things get difficult.
When things aren’t perfect, salespeople must apply the lessons they learned at the seminars their company paid for them to attend.
Again, at the risk of repeating myself, if there are fewer prospects presenting themselves, salespeople must do two things. The first is that they need to close a higher percentage of the leads they have into paying customers. Next, because that first step on its own is likely to be insufficient, is to go out there and find more leads on your own.
But how? It’s simple: remember the basics, and work on them.
Veering off into sports metaphors, it was my junior high physical education teacher who was the first to say to me that practicing the basics, until they’re second nature and you can execute them consistently will win more games than fancy layups or general showboating.
What does that mean when bats and balls aren’t involved? Focus on the fundamentals of sales that you all know. Take each step of the process seriously with every lead in your funnel. In fact, having a funnel in the first place is an important first step.
In addition, manage your time so that in addition to servicing the existing leads and customers you already have, devote parts of your day to business development: researching and looking for new potential customers. They’re out there, somewhere. The first step is to identify them and make contact.
If things are slow for you right now, the good news is it won’t last forever; everything is cyclical. In the meantime, it just means working harder right now.