Overcoming the Economic Storm

It’s been a long, a long time coming, but I know
a change is gonna come, oh yes it will (written
and performed by Sam Cooke, 1964).

Change is not in the air; it has hit the ground running, or should
I say running rampant. If it hasn’t affected you or your business in
some way, you are in the minority. Breaking news! Have you heard?
The economy is down!

It hasn’t been this way, this bad or this low for 50 years. Companies
are crumbling, and rules are being abandoned. The government is in
scramble mode as never before. But that’s them.

What about you and yours? What’s happening to you? Change
in business volume? Cash flow? Credit restrictions? Job status?
Employment status? Work environment? Work requirements?
Customers hurting? YIKES!

In many business sectors, it’s gonna get real, and it’s gonna get raw.
It’s not “change”—it’s “drastic change.” Things are changing, and not
for the better. How are you reacting to events? Most people are a
combination of reluctant and resistant—a combination
of scared and worried. You are not alone, but it doesn’t
mean you have to join the afflicted or the paralyzed.

OK, enough of that. Below is part of why you’re having
trouble adapting to the changing economic climate,
followed by what you can do about it.

1. Your inability to face the reality that it’s actually
happening to you.
The news is always about someone
else’s drama. That’s why you watch it. This drama
is yours.
2. Your natural defensive posture. “It’s not my fault! Someone
else did it.”
3. Your natural resistance to what’s new. “It’s always worked
before, and I liked it that way.”
4. Your procrastination and inability to face reality. “I see it
coming, but it may just go away. I’ll change later.”
5. Your previous comfort and present comfort. “I have a
lifestyle and I don’t want it interrupted!”
6. Your unwillingness to abide by the new rules and
the new standards.
Resistance to self-improvement.
Resistance to being measured by results. Resistance to being
measured against others. This is especially true if you’re a
longtime employee.
6.5 You think: “It can’t happen here.” Uh, Sparky, it already
has. And it’s not going away anytime soon. Do something!

Is there a resolve? Is there a solution? Are there answers? YES—you
provide it. YES—you create it. YES—you make them happen.

First, start with your resolve:
Create more self-time and less TV time. The news is not
great—especially people giving their opinion about what is
happening—so watch less of it. Now is the time for action,
not opinion.
Study attitude for 15 minutes every morning. Give yourself
time to read, think and plan.
Relax mentally. Breathe.
Do your best every day at work. You never have to prove your
worth if you’re doing your best.
Avoid attending the pity party. There are plenty of them.
Don’t participate in the rumor mill; wait for the facts to
Talk about what is, not what might be.
Don’t participate in the grumbling. Just get to work and
sell something.
Make a projected cash flow. Cut now so you don’t run out of
money in the near future.
Sell more. No company ever cut their way to success. Cutting is
fine, but you have to sell to have cash.
Guard your customers. Your competition is gunning for them.
Serve your customers better than ever. Earn their loyalty
with value.
Help your customers with their issues.
Their situation is what’s causing your falling
sales numbers.
Give something of value to your customers.
They will thank you and respect you.
Select your top customers and
invest in them.
They will thank
you and reward you with
their loyalty.

For years I have defined change as opportunity.
That definition is still accurate. This is not a time to
“get over it.” This is a time to get on with it and take
advantage of it.
It’s not a corporate thing. It’s a
personal thing.
It’s not the new-new thing. It’s
the reality thing.
It’s not their thing. It’s
your thing.
It’s raining lemons. Set up a
lemonade stand.

Regardless of the state of your
industry, the state of your market
and even the state of your sales,
as a salesperson it’s best to look
at the big picture. When you
see the big picture, you can
craft more when the marketplace
says less.

Before you try to make another
sale, before you call on the next
customer, I want you to look at
the real world so you can come up with real ideas and real
answers. Ideas and answers for your customers, for your sales
and for yourself.

Let me be more specific. I want you to look at and define
your real world, and their real world. Before you visit any
customer, you have to know what the total situation is in
order to understand them, relate to them, help them, serve
them and sell them. In these times, “sell them” may be last
on the list.

Let me define “total situation.” Don’t make the fatal
mistake of just defining your situation. You also have to
define the customer’s situation, the market situation and
your company’s situation with its customers.

“When you see the big picture, you can craft
more when the marketplace says less.”

What you are defining here is what exists now; the
present situation. And by the way, once you have defi ned
a situation, you will gain clarity of the situation and clarity
of mind. Write the situation down. Writing it down will
clarify the situation for you. It will also serve as a springboard
for the actions you must take for your customers in
these times, so you can win in these times—and all times.

Here’s the problem: You may be panicked, maybe even
pushed, for more sales now. This means you have to make
a choice: Panic or prepare. My strategy is a little slower, but a
lot surer.

After you have written down the entire situation, now you
begin looking for opportunities. What are the opportunities for the
customer, for your company and for you? Is there an opportunity
for you to capture a greater percentage of the customer’s business? Is
there an opportunity for the customer to make more sales so they can
pay their invoices in a more timely manner? Is there a market opportunity
that customers are missing because they are more focused on
their woes and their competition, rather than their strengths?

Once you’ve identified all the opportunities—whatever
they are—and you’re clear about the situation, then and
only then
can you begin to write what you intend to do or
accomplish—your objectives.

Your objective may be as simple as getting customers to pay their
outstanding balances in a more timely manner. Your objective may be
to double your business with this customer. Your objective might be to
help your customer through troubled times. Your objective may be to
broaden your relationship with customers so they will refer you to other
customers. Your objective might be to make a sale right now.

You may have several objectives. Whatever the objectives are,
they must be clearly stated and defined in writing. And please do
not confuse objectives with goals. Write down what you intend to
do to help the customer, do more business with the customer, gain
more referrals from the customer and make the relationship with the
customer a financially rewarding one.

Once you clarify and understand the situation, identify opportunities
and write your objectives, make certain they are congruent with
your intentions. When the market is volatile or uncertain, all facts
defined will help you think more clearly, act
more directly and become more successful.

Now, I’m going to challenge you on a
mastery point. Once you have this game
plan written down—situation, opportunities,
objectives and intentions—I challenge you to
share these thoughts with your customers so that they can become
aware of how serious, how professional and how certain you are about
growing the relationship, helping them and building your business.

Doing this will not only give your customers peace of mind; you’ll
also give yourself peace of mind.

Your list of ideas and answers will not only set you apart from your
competitors, who at this moment are merely trying to sell and collect,
but it will also build your relationship in more difficult times, so that
when times become better (and they always do), you will have earned
the business and the loyalty you deserve.

Message from Jeffrey: I have one more strategy to beat the crunch. If you want it, go to www.gitomer.com, register if you’re a first-time visitor, and enter OPPORTUNITY in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible and The Little Red Book of
Selling. President of Charlotte, N.C.-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars,
runs annual sales meetings and conducts Internet training programs on
selling and customer service.


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