Focus on retaining your existing customers
It costs almost six times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to retain an existing one. Go into each customer sales call equipped with an in-depth knowledge of your customers on the products they are currently purchasing from you, when they last bought from you and how much they bought. Most importantly know what they should be buying (up sell, look for cross selling opportunities ) that they are purchasing elsewhere. Knowing exactly what services and equipment your customers are buying from your competitors will enable you to advise them if this is something they should be looking at buying from you.
Understand a customer’s buying patterns and behaviour
During a recession customers are under the same pressures you are. The natural reaction in a downturn is to cut spending which means consumer purchasing behaviour will change as they focus on essential purchases, better value products and low-cost services. It is vital that you engage more efforts and effectively use your customer data to understand customer behaviour. This will help you respond to customers with value propositions tailor-made for a recession. Value propositions are what you can offer to the customer which they deem to be good value in relation your services/product. Spending more time on pushing the wrong products is not going to result in making sales. Returns and refunds may also be on the increase so efficient management of credit is very important.
Use your time by identifying your most profitable customers and product lines
This is the ideal time to use your information to identify customers who are either unprofitable or who you cannot assist enough to increase their profitability for you. In a tough climate even the top sales people and business owners can waste time trying only to make the big sale and then finding out that the prospective buyer has no budget, or that they are servicing customers who may spend but who are no longer profitable.
Sharpen your sales skills
Unfortunately, improving sales skills and techniques with sales training and development is not something that many salespeople spend time on. There didn’t appear to be as much of a need to do so during the good times. Perhaps they could get away with this when enjoying the benefits of a strong economy while sales were high and easy to close. Success will go to the salespeople who understand why people buy and can help people make the right purchasing decisions for themselves. Salespeople and business owners at this level stand to benefit from possible changes ahead as there will be more business for them to gain while their competition fall victim to the current recession.
Orla Conneely is a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, is an accredited business coach and is a member of the Sales Institute of Ireland. Orla has recently spoken on sales training (Money Talks… Speak Wisely ) at the Financial Skillsnet Conference alongside renowned economist David McWilliams. For more information on Orla and Salestrainer.ie call 091 384529 or log onto the company website www.salestrainer.ie