Paul shares four tips to help you minimize the effects of a recession on your selling efforts.
“When we face adversity…our immediate response is a testament to our mental strength.”
Avoid self-pity. It is a destroyer of our mental strength. When is the last time you felt better after feeling sorry for yourself?
Increase your prospecting activity to offset a recessionary lull.
To prepare for the next recession, begin looking at cost-cutting opportunities to benefit your customers. Not price cutting—cost cutting.
Craft compelling messaging by answering these three questions…
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How should I prepare for the next recession?
(Transcribed from podcast)
A great question came up recently. I was working with a group of salespeople, and they asked about some tips and advice for selling during a recession: how to prepare for a recession. And this really stemmed from what’s going on right now in the economy, the media.
Just a couple of days ago, the yield curve briefly inverted. And we’re not going to get into, you know, high finance and all that, but, basically, what has happened is that the short-term interest rate ends up being higher than the long-term interest rate. And that just shows that there’s some pessimism there in the economy. Granted, there’s books that have been written on this topic. So that’s my humble, simple explanation. So, on today’s episode, we’re going to answer the question, “How do I prepare for a recession?” How do I prepare in selling during a recession? So I’m going to offer you four tips as we begin today’s episode.
Before we get into that, though, your go-to guide for selling during a recessionary time is going to be Selling Through Tough Times. That’s really what sparked the idea behind this book is that every few years, there’s going to be a recession. Salespeople need a message—they need something that’s going to help them, that’s going to guide them. So, pick up your copy today. Pick up your copy today. As I mentioned last week, the worst time to dig for a well is when you’re thirsty. You’re better off doing it when you’re not thirsty. Now is the time to read this book, to study it. It’s going to help you become a better sales professional. It’s going to give you one more tool in your kit to help you be more professional as a seller. You can find the book at Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, your local bookstore. Wherever you get your books, you can find it there. Pick it up, Selling Through Tough Times.
All right, let’s get into it. So how do we mentally prepare to sell during a recession? Well, number one, we have to prepare mentally. We call this positive mental programming. And we talk about it in the book at great length. We have a whole chapter dedicated to building mental strength. So positive mental programming involves several things that we can do to help us mentally prepare. Our brain is like a computer, right? We process information in certain ways, and you get to write the code. You get to write the code, just like you do on a regular computer. So the key is to build a code that helps you build that mental strength. And so, there are several tips to positively program ourselves mentally so that we can, not just survive tough times, but also thrive during them.
And one of the tips that I talk about in the book is how to develop a positive first response to adversity. You know, oftentimes, when we face adversity, whether it’s mild or whether it’s great adversity, our immediate response really is a testament to our mental strength. And so, our goal is to develop a positive first response to adversity. And that means we just simply push through. We don’t waste time. We don’t sit and complain. We simply push through.
Now, another thing I think about too, I’m thinking of a GI Jane, because of, you know, Will Smith’s slap heard ‘round the world to Chris Rock when they made the GI Jane joke. Surely you’ve seen that by now. If not, you need to come out from under the rock and see what’s going on in the world. But in the original GI Jane, there was a great poem—a DH Lawrence poem—talking about self-pity. And I don’t remember the exact poem, but basically, you know, Viggo Mortensen, who’s playing the master chief, he says, “I’ve never seen a wild thing feel sorry for itself.” And you likely remember this scene in the movie.
And it’s a great, great poem on self-pity. And the thing we need to avoid when we’re going through tough times is that self-pity. Self-pity is a destroyer of our mental strength. And the question to think about is, when is the last time you felt better after feeling sorry for yourself? And chances are, you’ve never felt better after you feel sorry for yourself. So we try to avoid self-pity, and we try to take those negative thoughts when they enter our mind and we get them out on paper. We just get them out of our mind. That’s another thing we can do to help build that mental strength.
Now, there are three words to remember as you mentally prepare yourself: acknowledge, act, and adapt. Acknowledge-act-adapt. And, and here’s what we mean. When we’re going through tough times, there’s three mental phases. The first stage is acknowledgement. We have to acknowledge that, yes, tough times are here. Now, acknowledgement does not mean acceptance. Acknowledgement is like the bare minimum of recognition. We’re saying, yeah, I know there’s a recession, but we don’t accept it as reality. We don’t say, “Oh, things are terrible and they’re going to be terrible for a long time. This is how it is. This is reality.” No. That is acceptance. We don’t want acceptance. We just want to acknowledge. We have to acknowledge that there’s a tough time. There’s no point in sticking our head in the sand and denying it. Instead, acknowledge it.
Then, you have to take action. I just got off the phone with a group of salespeople. We just had a 30-minute tune-up webinar, and one of the things I mentioned to them is during a tough time, you must increase your selling activity. You have to do more. And by doing more and taking massive action, that is going to generate better results. So you have to take action. You can’t sit around and just wait for things to get better or wait for things to change. You can’t wait it out. You’ve got to gut it out. And that means you take more action.
And then, finally, you have to adapt. You have to adapt. By adapting to your tough time, you’re becoming more resilient. You’re learning to improve. You’re learning to get better. And that’s part of the reason tough times are good is because they do help us get better. We learn to adapt. We learn to pivot. We learn to change direction. And by doing that, we become better. So, I know I gave you a lot here in tip number one, but you’ve got to mentally prepare yourself. You’ve got to mentally prepare.
Now, next thing you should do—increase your prospecting activity. Tip number two: increase prospecting activity during tough times. Tough times are an opportune time to prospect, because during tough times, supply chains are disrupted, companies are short on resources. That means your prospects have a higher level of frustration with their current provider or their current solution. That creates an opportunity for you to step in, uncover their needs, and present a more complete solution to satisfy your prospect’s needs.
And not only that, you know, in the book, I talk about explorers and exploiters. And this is based on an experiment of over 2,500 different commercial fishing trips. And, the experimenters, they labeled these fishermen into two categories: there were explorers and exploiters. Explorers were the fishermen who would go out there and fish unfamiliar ground. They would try new areas, the same way a salesperson goes out there to call on prospects. Then you had exploiters. Exploiters would go to the same old fishing spot all the time. Well, here’s what the researchers found through their analysis. The explorers were actually more successful than the exploiters, but the explorers only had an advantage when there were tough times in the fishing industry.
For example, there’s going to be weather issues. There’s going to be regulations. There’s going to be, you know, endangered species that you have to worry about. As these tough times would surface, the explorers are the ones that had an advantage. The same is true for you as a sales professional. During tough times, are you going to be an explorer or you’re going to be an exploiter? So, tough times represent a great time to go out there and prospect.
Tip number three: to prepare for selling in a tough time or during a recession, begin looking at cost-cutting opportunities. And here’s what I mean by that. Look at your customer base, look at your top customers, and begin thinking about ways you can help reduce their overall cost. Not price. I want to be very clear here. I’m not talking about discounting or cutting your price, I’m talking about ways that you can cut their overall costs. Maybe you can help them with their ordering patterns. Maybe you can suggest new products to help reduce labor costs. Look for those cost-saving opportunities. Even if you share these opportunities with your customers before now, they’re going to be more open to these ideas because they’re going to look for ways to cut costs. And if you are being proactive here and helping them reduce costs, you’re also effectively blocking out your competition. Because your competition is going to be beating on the door, trying to tell your customers, “Hey, I can help save on your cost. I can help you do this. I can help you do that.” And now that your customer’s more open to those ideas, they’re more likely to let them in. You can block that from happening by proactively looking for ways to help your customer reduce overall costs.
Now, the fourth tip, and again, there’s so many tips. (I wish we just had more time to go through this, but again, Selling Through Tough Times is filled with tips and ideas on how to sell during a recession.) We need to work on our messaging. So, tip number four is to craft a compelling message. And in Selling Through Tough Times, we call this the tough-times proposition. And you want to build out your message, your story, by answering these three questions:
- What is the problem that you’re going to help the customer solve?
- What is the outcome that they’re going to experience from your solution? And,
- Why is there a need for them to act now?
Those three questions will help you craft a compelling message. And as you communicate your message of value during this tough time, you also need to communicate it with an empathetic tone. Remember that, when people go through tough times, they process information differently. They think differently. And, as a sales professional, we need to have that level of empathy when we’re out there communicating our tough-times message.
So that was the four tips for you.
- Mentally prepare.
- You’ve got to increase your prospecting effort.
- Look for those opportunities to cut costs. And,
- You need to craft a compelling message and you need to build that tough-times proposition.
Now, I’ve got some bonus information here for you. If you go to visit our book website, Toughtimer.com, you can download free chapters of the book. We’ve got three chapters that you can download. We’re going to have a link to that on this episode’s webpage. Also, in the download section, there are all these different templates that can help you build out your message, including a template for the tough-times proposition, other templates for how to build a presentation during a tough time. All of that information is available for you at Toughtimer.com.
So that is today’s episode. Again, the reason we focused on this, there is evidence to show that a recession is likely, that we are going to be heading down that direction. I’m not rooting for one, but, if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. We might as well be prepared. Make sure you pick up your copy of Selling Through Tough Times.
Also, if you found this episode helpful, share it with your colleagues. Make sure you hit that follow button. But most importantly, you know what to do—
Make it a big day.