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Sales strategies in a recession
Written by Annie Monk   

handshakeBusiness start up during a recession is a daunting task, but there is no better time! A business that can start and survive in more difficult economic environments can survive most anything.
As investment risk for start-up business is much greater during a recession and fast growth is essential. Therefore, sales strategies must reflect these initiatives for growth. This may be easier than you think.

Globally, many larger organisations are downsizing operations and in smaller markets this often means reducing sales representation and marketing activity. New start-up businesses have the greatest opportunity to gain traction and growth in these markets. Although repeat business is important, statistics do show that the fastest way to grow a business is to attract new customers!

With a reduction in sales staff, many of your competitors will be reducing customer contact and unintentionally creating 'relationship gap'. These gaps generate opportunity.

As 'relationship gaps' grow in the market there is room to step in and form new relationships more easily than ever before, resulting in growth of customer numbers.  More often buyers are shopping around as loyalties are tested and supply agreements loosened.  Internal business structures are changing and so too are the buyers and decision makers within your target market. Act now to improve market share!

Sales investment does not always require people on the ground, but there is no better time to negotiate your terms with potential employees, gather experience to your business and expand your capabilities.

Here are a few sales growth strategies which you will find useful:

1.  Get out from behind the desk. Freshen up your own sales skills, invest in a course, read the literature and get out there! You are your business' greatest advocate, do it!

2. You Can't Sell. It is also important to understand that not all business owners have this ability, be honest with yourself - if you are not effective in sales (yes, admit it) step away. Its OK not to be good at everything!  Do you hinder the sales process with your decision making?  If so GET OUT OF THERE. Employ the right staff and focus on your strengths!

3. Wanted: New Sales Stars. Employ additional sales staff to represent your businesses in new geographic locations and/or markets.  With record unemployment and willing people, think about commission only or small retainer sales staff.  Focus on packages that reduce your initial investment and can increase sales without impacting heavily on fixed costs.  Good sales people are driven. Do not compromise on quality here! And remember to always reward good sales staff.

4. Sell Online: review and improve your website capabilities, and if you don't have one GET ONE! This is a great sales tool if utilised correctly. With an investment levels generally lower than that of a new employee, its a great option to reach your customers. Word to the Wise, make sure you engage a provider that understands your business and how to maximise its online potential, its not about the pictures anymore!

5. Target customers. Make your prospects count. Give yourself every advantage to increase your hit rates. Find out what your customers want, listen to them, its not about you. An example of this; if something works for one customer, who else shares their profile - repeat it. More time spent in research, means less time closing!

6. Stop wasting money on marketing that does not work. Do not engage in marketing activity that does not support sales activities. Make every dollar count! Monitor your activity. Know the results of your marketing efforts, if its not producing sales results you are wasting your time and money. There are plenty of cost effective alternative marketing strategies.  Explore the opportunities of newer trends like Social Media Marketing (SMM).

7. What you have to offer customers is worth more. Selling only on price is a sure fire way to "exit stage left" in a recession. Identify your points of differentiation, sell that! Competing on price makes you one of the flock, eventually your sales value will not cover costs and there is always someone out there willing to sacrifice more margin than you. Believe in your business.

Take more than your share, its that simple!

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