Revving up sales in a recession
Running a business is a bit like riding a rollercoaster, and as a business owner, you know that even in a healthy economy, there will always be highs and lows. In tough economic times, it may seem like you’re spending a little more time on the downward run, prompting you to tighten your belt. But, recession or not, there are still some companies that manage to close the deal — or at least gear up for renewed sales in the inevitable rebound that follows.
How do they do it?
Find your message, shout it from the rooftops
Henry Ford once said, “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.” Advertising is an integral part of a successful business.
Instead of cutting down on your marketing efforts, or even maintaining them at your current level, now is the time to boost them. Investing in well-designed marketing should get you results under any circumstance, but doing so in times of widespread uncertainty has the potential to turn things around.
There will be many businesses who give in to those recession-driven fears, scaling down their investment and cutting budgets for a few more years to come. For those business owners in a position to set strategies beyond the situation at hand, there is an opportunity right now to conquer new shares of their sector, gaining a significant edge over the competition.
“We’ve seen quite a few clients grow market share and bring in new customers during this downturn because they had already built out a solid messaging strategy, and they invested in reaching out to customers who are currently looking for new solutions to their everyday problems,” says Ben Gaston, Co-Founder of Open Oceans.
2. Don’t devalue your product
During the 1973 recession, as competitors panicked, IBM made an unusual move: It raised prices. Big Blue took this step after embracing the marketing catchphrase “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.” Most people think that in tough times you have to give a special offer or cut prices, but that just ends up devaluing the product. And when prices fall dramatically, customers come to the conclusion that either they were overpaying at the regular price, or the product is cheap because there’s something wrong with it.
Instead of slashing prices, consider offering additional services, such as extended guarantees or additional customer support, to make your clients feel like they’re getting more bang their buck.
And, when you're perfectly tuned in to your target market, it’s easy to know what your client perceives as value. Whether they see value in terms of quantity, quality, client experience, entertainment or information, simply pile it on to your offer until it appears utterly irresistible, no matter the price.
“In order to get a customer to pull out their wallet right now, you need to be sure that you are communicating a clear benefit that outweighs the cost,” says Gaston, “your relationship with your customer should be focused on how you make their lives better, even if they have to spend a bit of money. This is true now more than ever.”
It’s also a good idea to break that value up, dishing out slowly before and after the sale as well. Your sales pitch itself, for example, should provide value to prospects, and not just mention the value they'll receive once they sign. By doing this, you make yourself, your company, your product and even your advertising so valuable to your client-base that you become indispensable – and unforgettable at the same time.
4. Remember the ones who stuck by you
Of course, focusing on new customers is crucial, but don’t ignore existing customers or assume that they’re sticking by you for the long haul. You need to let them know that their business is appreciated, and spend as much effort reaching out to them as you would with potential new clients.
The biggest mistake you can make is making them feel like they’ve been taken for granted or, worse, like you're putting more effort towards bringing in new clients than you are towards keeping them happy.
5. Skills to sell
Recessions inevitably lead to layoffs or the closure of entire companies, which means that there are some very talented sales professionals out there, and they’re looking for new opportunities. And while bringing in some fresh blood is always a good idea to revive your sales force, don’t stop there. Employee training and more specifically, training that is relevant to the current economic climate, is also essential to boost your sales during a recession.
“We’ve always believed that if we have the opportunity to work with someone great, we should make it happen without hesitating because of cost. We have a team of amazing subcontractors around the world who have done incredible things for our company, and in the current environment we are excited to keep building partnerships with great people,” says Gaston.