Paul completes his three-part series on the benefits of a recession with the important reminder that you’ve got to shift your mindset and focus on opportunity, abundance, and improvement.
Good times can mask bad sales behaviors. Recessions will reveal your weaknesses, which will help you become stronger.
Humility is a misunderstood virtue in business. We cannot improve until we first admit we need to improve.
Tough times force you to get creative in how you approach your business.
During tough times you will get some unique opportunities. You’ve got to view them through the optimistic lens of abundance.
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What are the benefits of a recession? Part Three
(Transcribed from podcast)
Now, on today’s episode, we’re going to complete this three-part series. And this three-part series, again, is all about how recessions can be a good thing and what the benefits are. So we’re going to dive into that. I’m going to share with you a couple of closing thoughts, things to think about. But remember that as you go through tough times, you’ve got to shift your mindset. [You’ve] got to make sure you’re focusing on opportunity, on abundance, on how you can improve and get better. And one of the best ways to prepare for tough times is to pick up your copy of Selling Through Tough Times.
Selling Through Tough Times is available wherever you get your books. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, you name it, you can find it there. This is your go-to guide for building mental resilience and also, to grow your profits as you go through these tough times. So, pick up your copy today.
Also, you’ll notice in Selling Through Tough Times, we reference the website Toughtimer.com. There we have several resources for you: different templates, planning exercises. We’ve got all these tools available for you, so make sure you check out the website as well.
So let’s get into the final three ideas. How is it that recessions can be a good thing? Well, remember that recessions will reveal your weaknesses. You know, any salesperson can perform well when there’s a good economy, when supply is less than demand, right? So, we’ve got times of peak demand right now where, if you answer your phone and you’ve got the product or the capability, there’s a good chance you can get the business. So, we’ve got to remember that, during good economic times, that will mask bad sales behavior. It’s only during tough times that the mask comes off. We truly reveal where we are weak so that we can become stronger. Consider how many businesses have become stronger over the past couple years—more resilient through the pandemic, through supply shortages, through rising prices. All of these challenges that we face are really helping these businesses become better.
And the same is true for salespeople. I remember, during the Great Recession back in ‘08 and ‘09, I was fortunate that I had a couple years of peak performance—really. I made the Master’s Club at my company. But I’ve got to tell you, during those good selling times, that masked some of my bad sales behavior. And here’s what happened. I had two multi-billion dollar construction projects going on in my territory. So, plenty of opportunity, right? So, I focused on those projects in trying to maximize every single opportunity that I could within the gates of that refinery and that power plant that were being built. But one thing I failed to remember is that eventually these projects would end. And although I faced years of just record-breaking performance, when those projects wrapped up, I was scrambling to try to fill my pipeline. I realized that, wow, I should have been prospecting outside of these two projects. I should have been spreading my focus into other viable opportunities that were going to fill in once these projects were complete.
I remember facing three to six months of really just tough, tough numbers because I failed to prospect. That tough time revealed a weakness that I had, and that weakness was failing to prospect. And that’s a lesson I thankfully learned early on in my sales career, is that no matter if it’s good times or bad times, whether your pipeline is full or not, you must prospect all the time. Absolutely all the time.
In fact, my sales mentor—my dad—he gave me a great tip. For over 30+ years he’s run a successful business, and he said, “You know, I always had this rule of thumb.” He said, “If I could talk to three people a day about an opportunity, my pipeline was always full.” Think about that, having that discipline, every single day, to talk to three people about a new opportunity. So, remember, recessions are good because they do reveal those weaknesses so you can become stronger.
Now, the next thing we’ll talk about is how recessions can humble you. Recessions are humbling. And you think about it, good times will bring success, and that success can generate an inflated sense of self. Pride cometh before the fall—we’ve heard that before. A wave of success only pushes us so far. We’ve got to realize that momentum is generated by the wave, not the individual. That’s why you catch a wave and not create it. So, when the wave reaches the shore, you’ve got to then paddle back out. You’ve got to find another wave. But remember that paddling out is what strengthens you to catch an even bigger wave the next time around. But we can only catch that wave when we realize we’re not the one creating it. We can only catch that wave when we put in the effort. We only catch that wave when we realize that we can get better and improve. And that’s what humility will do.
Humility is such a misunderstood virtue in business. It’s sometimes perceived as a weakness, but humility is critical. Humility keeps you hungry. Humility will right-size your ego. Ego is the enemy of progress. Ego is the enemy of becoming a better version of yourself. Well, the good news is, once again, tough times will humble you. They will humble you, and they will right-size your ego. They will put you in a place where you realize, “You know what? I can get better. I need to get better.” Humility is a good thing. So that’s one of the hidden benefits. One of the things we don’t realize is that, as we face tough times, it’s taken us off our pedestal. It’s knocking us down that mountain. And in doing so, it puts us in a better position to improve and get better. Because we cannot improve, we cannot get better, until we first admit that we can get better. So humility keeps you hungry. Humility is so important, especially as we go through tough times.
Now, finally, tough times create unique opportunities. As we face tough times, business owners, salespeople, are challenged to go after new markets, to go after new types of customers. I remember one of the guys I used to work with, he would focus purely on selling new equipment. New equipment was really his bread and butter. That’s how he was making money. That’s how he was hitting his quota. But during the Great Recession, people aren’t buying new equipment. And so, he focused his time and energy and effort on repairs, on selling spare parts. Some of the smaller products, some of the things that really aren’t that exciting to sell, he was selling them day in and day out. And his whole argument was, “Well, hey, they need to do the work, they’ve got to buy the parts, they need to repair their stuff, I’m going to take care of ’em that way.” His margins were extremely high during those tough times because spare parts and services and all that, those were high-margin items, and he was selling a lot of it. He was able to hit his number, his profit numbers, just by focusing on the things that people would buy. Remember, tough times create new markets, new ideas. It forces you to get creative in how you approach your business.
In Selling Through Tough Times, I talk about organizations being flexible. And one company I highlight is Stanley Black & Decker. In fact, during the Great Depression, people were not buying as many tools. So one thing Stanley Black & Decker decided to do was make toys. And the toy was called Stanlo, and it’s kind of like an erector set where you’re building things with metal pieces and all that. And their thought was, “Hey, if we can switch out our machines, if we can start making this toy, it’s going to keep our employees here making things. It’s going to keep cash coming into the company so we can still pay our dividend.” That’s an example of a company getting creative as we go through tough times.
Now, you know, Jack Dorsey, the founder of Square, he said that there is no better time to start a new company or new idea than a depression or a recession. And think about the timing of Square. He launched a company in 2009. And this was right after the Great Recession where people were still just fearful of “when is this going to end?” People were still struggling and feeling the pain from the Great Recession. And yet, he built that company, Square, amid the distrust of a lot of the financial services companies. That created opportunity. It’s all how we view it, though. It’s our mindset. So, as we go through tough times, realize that during the tough times, you’re going to get some unique opportunities that are going to fall in front of you. But if you view the world through a pessimistic lens, a scarcity lens, you’re not going to see it. You can only, only view these opportunities through the positive lens of abundance. So make sure that you are viewing the world as if there were opportunity everywhere. You just need to find it.
As we close out this three-part series, remember that tough times are good. They’re not pain free, but they are good. The pain and the angst and the anxiety that you experience over the next several months, that will catalyze the positive change you need in your life. Fully embrace tough times and welcome the struggle. Keep in mind that this opportunity will not last forever. Tough times are temporary, so make sure you take full advantage of the opportunity in front of you.
Thank you for tuning in today. And just a reminder, make sure you go to Toughtimer.com. There we have several resources to help you, to strengthen your mindset, to strengthen your skills as we go through these tough times.
Make it a big day.