Habits of salespeople who thrive during times of economic uncertainty

Are we in the midst of – or are about to enter – a period of economic uncertainty? Who knows? But some high-achieving salespeople don’t just survive hard times – they create new “personal best” performance levels during potential down cycles in their business. How do they do it? 

In a new white paper, the Sandler Research Center has identified eight habits of high performers who fall into this special category. Here are a few that will help see you through an industry shakeout, a spike in inflation, a recession or any other challenge that may appear on your horizon.

They Create Their Own Narrative About What’s Happening

Some salespeople follow the herd. They listen to what’s being said on the news and social media. They embrace a scarcity-focused outlook about “the economy” being bad. 

Higher-achieving salespeople create, and live, a very different story; one built around the idea of abundance. These salespeople will assume they are operating at a time when they can always look for, find and exploit major competitive advantages. Their internal narrative is that opportunities, resources, ideas and allies are waiting for them around every corner. 

They Engage with Ultimate Decision-Makers 

During times of economic uncertainty, it’s quite common to hear mid-level contacts say things like: “Our budgets are frozen.” Do you know who doesn’t talk like that when times are challenging? People at the top. When a high achiever has the right conversation with a leader, budgets have a way of unfreezing.

Ultimate decision-makers are wired to be decisive, highly disciplined and results-oriented. During a business downturn, they’re looking for new ideas, and allies, to help implement them. Yes, ultimate decision-makers are a little harder to reach (though not as difficult as some think) but the effort is worth it. They will always tell you exactly where you stand, which is what you need to know.

They Make it a Business Conversation Rather Than a Sales Conversation 

A business conversation enables you to create an enduring competitive advantage with ultimate decision-makers. (In many companies, these people are surrounded by voices that only want to tell them how good everything is—usually because the individuals doing the talking are concerned about their jobs.)

It is our responsibility, as sales professionals, to make it clear that we are not one of those people. Our responsibility is to become someone the ultimate decision-maker trusts enough to listen to, ask questions and keep in their orbit. We want to be the ones they turn to in order to learn “what’s really going on out there.” That means making sure we lead business conversations, not sales conversations.

We always want to talk to these people about business, first. That will set us apart from everyone else out there who sounds like just another salesperson behind quota. Leading with a business conversation will give you the perfect platform to make the business case for working with your organization.

They Focus on Prospecting Behaviors 

Prospecting: it’s vitally essential in slower times but it never stops being important. The people who buy from us will change jobs. They will retire. The companies who buy from us will change focus. They will get bought by other companies. They will change leadership teams. They will go out of business. Constant change is the nature of business and, once we recognize that, we will also recognize the importance of initiating discussions with prospective buyers all the time – not just when the well runs dry. We can’t control what’s about to close; all we can control is the number of qualified leads that make it into our pipeline.

These are just a few of the best practices of top-performing salespeople who thrive, regardless of the economic environment. There are many more. For a copy of the full report, contact us at the email or phone number below. ♦

Jim Marshall is owner, and president, of Sandler Training of Tampa Bay, which provides sales, corporate and management training to high-achieving companies and individuals. Contact him at 813.287.1500 or jmarshall@sandler.com.

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