Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Planning for Success 2012 - Sales challenges and Opportunities of Double Dip

The various economics and business pundits in the media have been reviewing 2011 and tentatively predicting what 2012 holds. References to former tough economic periods are being mentioned such as the 1930s.

So what businesses grew out of the tough 1930s? Perhaps the humble cough drop can inspire us.

In the 1930s Halls invented its Mentho-Lyptus formula, using a combination of menthol and eucalyptus, and began producing its popular cough drops. The brand is currently owned by Cadbury .

Halls products though are sold differently depending where you are.

The northern hemisphere knows them as a cold relief product with licensed medical status in the USA , Canada and the UK. Whilst in hotter drier climates they are sold as mouth refreshment .

(Maybe we can sell our existing products and services to different market segments likewise.)

 Currently Halls menthol lozenges have a series of huge posters on the Cromwell Road / Warwick Road site of Clear Channel, London suggesting whatever 2012 holds we can all take a deep breath to engage with the challenges of the new year by sucking on their cough drops.

A double dip recession is an especially tough business reality check. The shock of the first dip will have been an uncomfortable experience to many who had only known selling in the 18 years of previous uninterrupted growth.

They may have had a few colleagues in their team (quite possibly not their team leader) who sold in the last  double dip recession (1980s), and whose brains they could pick but such experience was quite rare.

The Cost cutting in the first dip has had to be brutal and sometimes businesses have cut through the bone and into the marrow.The low hanging fruit have all been picked. 

The smart salespeople realised that the comforts of account management and relationship selling would not see them through so it was time to adapt or die.
One of the Halls Menthol lyptus cough sweets campaign on posters in UK Jan 2012

The three basic adaptations are:

1.  PROTECT your key clients from attacks from the competition. Don’t rely on client loyalty indeed a recession is a good test of quite how much of a trusted adviser your clients really think you are or whether they just see you as another commodity supplier to be pruned.

The vulnerability of the 80:20 rule is exposed. To lose any of your key clients will require you to replace the significant lost business with more business from less developed accounts to keep on target.

2. EXPAND your reach within existing accounts. Seek out and exploit opportunities to up sell, cross sell and plus sell. Having built a momentum within an account, expand your contacts with both the influencers and decision makers. Many purchasing departments will be looking to reduce the number of suppliers in cost saving drives, so make yourself indispensable to many parts of the client’s organisation.

3.  DEVELOP new clients.

 Let's be clear we are talking about PROSPECTING and being genuinely pro-active, digging out your own leads. If prospecting has not been part of your recent routine, begin it now.

It may mean a spot of “cold turkey” from the addictive delusion of being busy processing the self perpetuating round of emails. It’s time to get off your backside pick up that phone, proactively work that PC, work those numbers and attend more networking events .

 Do some scouting on that new Industrial estate.  Take a note of new firms and then "Google" them maybe with a title of your typical contact level. e.g. Operations Director, HR Manager etc. You might even come across sites about your prospect, try "images" and you may even strike lucky with a photograph of them!

The TACK research study “Selling to today’s Corporate Buyer” 2010 revealed that Buyers’ consider the  communication methods above for salespeople to arrange a first appointment with them as acceptable:-

Adapting effectively is about embracing change, learning or re-learning skills suited to the recession. It’s time to sharpen your saw one more time as Stephen Covey might put it. It will give you that motivational push to adapt that bit quicker than your competition to not only survive but thrive in recession.

Whilst soothsaying pundits wonder whether their predictions for 2012 will turn out right, those of us in the proactive realities of selling just have to get on wth it or as the  English idiom goes ' suck it and see'.

 Maybe we can be  helped along by a soothing  Halls cough drop!

Related Link

Event report of Planning for Success 2012

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