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Sales organizations don’t operate in an economic vacuum. Between political uprisings, economic changes, inflation concerns – there are a number of external factors that can influence the buying environment for so many industries.

But, how you approach and redefine your selling process when times aren’t ideal is what often separates the companies that survive from those who routinely thrive – no matter the market conditions.

With a potential recession on the horizon going into 2023 and beyond, mastering the art of selling in a down market will be a clear strategic advantage.

In this episode of the Modern Selling Podcast, we dive into the new and very insightful book, Selling Through Tough Times: Grow Your Profits and Mental Resilience Through Any Downturn by Paul Reilly.

Paul Reilly is a speaker, sales trainer, co-author of the sales book, Value-Added Selling, and the host of The Q and A Sales Podcast, where he answers the most pressing questions facing sales professionals. Paul works closely with world-class sales organizations to help them compete more profitably, despite the market conditions. Paul is a regular expert contributor and writer for several business publications. Prior to starting his own company, Tom Reilly Training, Paul spent over ten years in professional sales. 

Join the conversation to hear what sales strategies are truly helping companies weather the storm and still hit quota even in tough economic times.

Why are Tough Times Important in Sales?

This may seem counterintuitive, but tough times make for better sellers. Not only does the competition dramatically increase during times of “sales famine”, but with fewer sales to go after, this forces sales teams to get more creative and personalized in their approach.

I wanted to hear Paul’s take on this question since this is the core focus of his new book.

“One of the things about tough times is that they’re always happening. Whether it’s the pandemic or inflation or a recession – you can’t escape having to sell through these times. Tough times reveal our weak points or those parts of our sales process that need to be improved or changed altogether. And, we create more authentic conversations and relationships with our customers when it becomes critical that we don’t lose them because we don’t know when our next sale may come.”

I’ve seen in my own experience, here at Vengreso, the level of innovation that can be created when you have to operate in a space of scarcity. If there are fewer sales to go after, then you have to get really crafty in your sales process, in your marketing messaging, and even in how you position the value you offer.

Listen into the full episode to hear exactly why and how the best sales companies in history often emerged out of the hardest economic times.

How does the sales conversation need to shift?

There are some timeless sales strategies and approaches that are always important to implement in your sales process. However, when times are good, we often start to cut corners and get disconnected from the real mission of selling: to help our customers.

In tough economic conditions, sales teams must take the time necessary to build authentic and meaningful conversations with prospects.

I was curious to hear Paul’s perspective on what key shifts sales teams have to make to close more sales during hard times.

What he shares is spot on, “During tough times, we have to remember that customers are the ones who define the value for what we’re selling. And it’s their definition of value that truly matters. We have to be better at conveying what problem(s) we solve and how we can help customers reach their goals.”

Many times in financial straits, companies’ goals shift and as a result the sales conversation has to match. For example, if our target audience is looking to cut costs, then it is our job, as sales professionals, to show them how our product can help them reach that end goal.

What I’ve found is that many sales companies never refine their messaging to meet the new goals of their potential customers and as a result their sales conversations feel “tone deaf” in the midst of what’s going on in the market.

What sales habits are important to have during tough times?

If you’ve been in sales for as long as I have then you know that selling is a largely mental process.

You can follow the sales playbooks or methodologies to a “t”, but you have to build a strong sense of mental resilience to be able to do this line of work and show up powerfully (and positively) every day.

Paul knows this all too well and dedicated several chapters in his book on how to create the mental resilience or toughness you need to be a highly successful seller even during tough times.

In his framework, there are what he calls, “Daily Mental Flexs”, which are a collection of six exercises that are key to add into your everyday life to build mental resilience.

Three of the six are:

  • Gratitude – this is such an important component in sales because we often fixate on what’s going wrong, as opposed to taking time to practice gratitude and acknowledge the things we are appreciative of.

    Pro Tip: Studies have shown that when you thank donors for donating, they tend to donate more the next time. Applying this same logic to sales means that sales leaders could leverage a simple “thank you” to their reps to get them motivated to do more.
  • Self Discipline – we all have what Paul refers to as “Not To Do” lists of things that we tend to avoid because we don’t want to do them. Getting in a habit of doing them anyway is a critical part of building self discipline which will help you thrive in tough times.
  • Positive Reframing – is the glass half empty or half full? With positive reframing, it’s all about retraining your brain to find the positive outcomes from a negative situation.

Download and listen to the full episode to get the other three Daily Mental Flex activities and hear the seven characteristics sales leaders need to cultivate to thrive in rough economic environments.

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