With all the talk about the economy heading towards a recession, I’m busier than ever. And so are my clients. So, what gives? How much of this is fact and how much hype? Either way, I’m certainly not disputing that it’s affecting how some business owners and companies are spending lately.
So, what tips do I offer to companies, salespeople and, more specifically retailers on how to weather the recession? The same coaching I deliver to my clients, which is keeping their recession blues at pay, enabling them to drive and close new sales, and most important keeping their mental edge.
First, ‘weathering a recession’ sounds like surviving a storm and waiting until it passes. The “wait and see” or “lets hope things get better soon” is putting retailers out of business every day. I see it in my community. Stores that were opened one week are closed the next. Sure, you can ‘batten down the hatches’ when the eye of the storm lands but keep in mind when you open them up, there won’t be any customers sitting there waiting around for you. Instead, here’s what you need to do.
1. First, get out of your own head.
Businesses are closing their doors not due to a lack of effort but because they are still attempting to sell, manage or run their business the way it was, not the way it is today. If your marketplace has changed, then you need to change with it. Friendly reminder, don’t get sucked up into what you’re hearing on the news every day. Turn it off if you have to! What is real for you in your business in your local economy? Get out of the type of mindset that keeps you stuck in obsessing on what you need to do to survive and focus on how you can thrive. Remember all those great business ideas you were going to implement; the training your wanted to take, the marketing you wanted to do, the team building you felt would surely to make a measurable impact on your growth and success but daily business responsibilities always seemed to take precedent? Now is the time to blow the dust of those ideas and start executing on them. This begins with a change of thinking, accompanied by a change of strategy and topped off with a strong dose of reality.
2. Get back to basics.
Do you remember when you first opened your doors and achieved some measurable success? Why were you successful in the first place? What did you do then that you may not be doing now or unwilling to do now? Get on the floor of your store, cold call, prospect, do some grunt work? You need to turn around your business, fast, so time is not a luxury. Therefore, if you think there are any activities which are beneath you, then you already have one leg of your business in the grave.
3. Actually learn how to sell.
No, selling for 30 years is not what I’m suggesting as a training platform. Experience is important but experiences doesn’t equate to engaging in the healthiest of sales techniques. I’d be willing to bet (and I’m not a gambling man) the majority of retailers out there have not been coached and trained to be a sales champion, do not have a defined sales process they consistently engage in and as such, don’t know how to truly sell. And by no means consider this an attack on the retail sector. However, given that the majority of daily purchases we make are at a retail level, this is what I’m experiencing both as an executive coach and as a consumer. The “I’ve been successful in spite of myself” theory would apply here.
4. Work your leads and earn a Sale.
Just a short time ago, in many sales driven companies, your salesperson can have a pulse and still get a sale simply by your customers showing up and having the money to spend. We were fooled into thinking that, “Hey, since I’m bringing in the business, I must be a great salesperson.” In today’s business climate, the same people are now struggling to generate the results they were, realizing that the marketplace has duped them into thinking they were better then the really are when it comes to professional selling. It has been the economic climate that made many salespeople seemingly productive, rather than their skill set or the core competencies needed to truly become a high performance sales professional, regardless of economic or market conditions. With today’s ever evolving market, if you are selling, managing or running your business the same way you’ve been running it for the last several years, you’re overdue to reevaluate your philosophy.
If you sell consumer products or services that is a more substantial purchase than going to the supermarket (home electronics, furniture, bridal/wedding venders, travel, boutique stores, computers, home appliances, home furnishings, clothing/shoe stores, etc.) don’t let a potential customer walk out the door without collecting some data points and permission to check in. Learn to position yourself as your customer’s trusted adviser throughout their decision making process. Abandon toxic thinking and get beyond the fact that you can afford to let any potential customer walk away from a conversation, thinking they will actually call you back on their own accord. Earn the right to call each person who buys from you – a customer. It’s during times like these where you literally have to earn their business rather than simply be an order taker.
5. Get into action. Work with a coach.
Hire a coach. With a coach, it’s not about weathering the storm. You can do that on your own. A great business coach can assist you in developing the strategy and skills you need to not only sail through the storm but actually even profit during it.