Perhaps you have begun 2011 in a bit of a sales slump. Maybe you recently experienced the nauseous pit in the core of your stomach we get when we find out a major customer is switching to our competitor. Perhaps you made a promise to a customer that you or your teammates were not able to keep. Could be you missed last month’s sales goal by a mile and your job is on the line.
Even worse, are you in the networking process because you missed last year’s sales goal by such a wide margin that it cost you your job, and you’re looking for the next one?
Maybe you still have your job but you can’t seem to pick up your next lead or schedule that big appointment. It’s possible that the prospect you were convinced would say yes—so convinced that you told your sales VP or your co-workers that the new customer was a slam dunk—just called and said the business was going the way of someone else.
If this is where you find yourself—smack dab in the middle of a sales slump—I have fantastic news.
The best time in the history of humankind to be in a sales slump is ... Ready?
Why? Because of the Exponential Economy. I have written about the Exponential Economy in previous columns, so I will be brief. In a nutshell….the rate at which the tools that make everything we do more efficient and less taxing become available to us is mind-numbing. This reality means that if you are in a sales slump you have more opportunities to get out than ever before.
First, as I like to put it, “sales is a streaky thing.” I can’t explain exactly why, but when a sales person is on, they are ON! They are closing more business than they can handle. Every lead requests a proposal and every proposal becomes a sale. Manna from Heaven—the hot lead that comes out of nowhere—falls from the sky. When you’re hot, you’re hot. But the streak doesn’t last forever. Nor, however does the sales slump. Eventually the slump ends and the sales person gets hot again. If you’re in a slump, it will come to an end.
And in an Exponential Economy everything seems to move faster. Streaks—good or bad—that used to last years, now may last only quarters or months. This comes as bad news for the guy on a hot streak, but great news for the guy in a slump.
Second, the Exponential Economy provides us the tools we need to work our way out of the slump—faster than ever before in history.
Looking for leads? Download an industrial database and in minutes you have access to potential customers; one that can be sorted by industry, location, product type, number of employees, annual revenue and so on. Use social networking tools like LinkedIn or Facebook to identify people who may provide connections to new prospects.
Want to know more about a prospect you have identified? Years ago we had to make a trip to the library, or page through a cumbersome registry.
Today, we can generally learn all we need to know about a prospect by visiting their website or downloading their literature.
When it comes to setting up an appointment, we have myriad options. If the prospect is not available at their desk, try their cell phone. Reach out in an email. Connect by texting or instant messaging. These are all tools that sales people of 20 years ago didn’t have at their disposal.
Has the time come to visit the prospect to present your wares? Through the magic of tools like PowerPoint you can do so in vibrant and intriguing fashion. Show the customer a video of your product on your iPad while sitting in her office. Use Autocad or Inventor technology to show the prospect how your product will work in her shop.
If your meeting is half a world away, do your presentation using GoToMeeting or Skype—from a comfortable chair in your home office wearing Bermuda shorts if you wish.
Should the prospect request a proposal—most Customer Relationship Management systems will allow you to enter a few pieces of pertinent information (customer name, products being quoted, and pricing model) and output a .pdf version of a proposal that can be seamlessly emailed to the prospect.
When the time comes to follow up on your proposal, see the contact options above for all the alternatives available to you.
In an Exponential Economy, we have the ability to move from lead generation to close faster than ever before.
If you’re in a sales slump, Congratulations! There has never been a better time in history to be there, because the Exponential Economy provides almost limitless tools to work your way back out.
The only thing the Exponential Economy can’t do ... is force you to use them.
That part is up to you.
What you need to do to keep up (and thrive) in a time of rapid change.