Build your top line in tough times

Content provided by a guest contributor.

Let’s take a different approach. We know that we ourselves cannot change external factors, specifically referring to the economy on this occasion. What we can do is change our attitude and become more opportunity driven.

Most other businesses around you will be cutting back, increasing discounts and accept poor sales as the norm. What else does everyone do; yes, reduce marketing budgets. They are also reluctant to approach their existing customers due to fear of losing them. We just assume they don’t have the funds to buy from you in these challenging times – so let’s not offend them.

In conclusion to all this, let’s agree, Now is the perfect time to creep through the back door and react positively to the economic downturn. What we are saying is; work smarter, secure new business and expand your market now. In short, this is the best time to do big things in sales. Let’s see how.

1. Become a superstar & fine-tune your skills

There is no better time to fine-tune the sales skills than now. If you are not closing sales or not enough of them, it's time to make it happen. Toned sales skills will enable you to take advantage of the opportunities that do exist.

Great sales skills will enable you to close sales even during difficult times. Conversely, not having the skills will allow potential sales to slip through your fingers. If business is really slow, use some of that extra time for education.

2. Increase your activity – the number of qualified prospects you reach directly

Focus on low cost marketing and prospecting activities. Without prospecting, sales do not grow and without communicating with your existing customers frequently, you will lose these customers.

One of the best, cost effective sales and marketing activities is to use the telephone and email combination. Call potential new customers to introduce yourself. Call existing customers to potentially sell more, increase customer loyalty or gather referrals.

Many customers would rather use technology communication than face to face meetings. Find out from your customer or prospect what would they prefer.

3. Don’t take no for an answer

Follow-up, and again and again. If you don’t remain in contact with your prospect, you will never break through. Remember, most people give up after the 1st attempt. Almost everyone will buy from you, but it can take up to 20 impressions (three phone calls, four emails, two meetings... etc).

The more you professionally follow up with a potential customer, the more they will respect you and the more they will want to do business with you. Most people, especially decision makers aspire to a professional.

4. Smile

The biggest reason why people will buy from you is because they like you – for no other reason. Start a process now of becoming a nice guy. Build on the happiness factor, start taking responsibility, forgive others, help others. You cannot focus on the outside world if you haven’t sorted yourself out. Even if you have the perfect product at an incredible price, if your prospect does not like you, it’s tickets!

5. Stop Hard Selling

Stop hard selling and start building relationships. Building new relationships and rekindling older ones is an unmatched doing business mechanism and without doubt the most cost effective. Start listening to your prospects needs, find out what more you can do for your client.  Focus on being interested as opposed to being interesting.

Attend quality networking forums, one of the most powerful forms of relationship building. You will meet people on an ongoing basis that will become your walking, talking advertisement.

Don’t let the economy paralyse you. Stop listening to others, especially the negative. Mix with positive and successful people and you will be more likely to become successful. It is imperative to take action and reach out to your existing customers and new prospects.


The content in this article was provided by Mike Anderson the founder and chairman of the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC)South Africa’s largest Small Business Organisation.

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