Sales Up in a Down Economy?

Sales Up in a Down Economy?

The Bad News

I never want to be a source of negative thinking, but there is reason to believe that a global recession of some magnitude is underway. Buyers in 2022 are already hesitant about expenditures and many will cut back.

The Good News

I have experienced ten recessions and they are an opportunity to keep the growth flywheel accelerating and to grab market share.

Lesson from the 1980’s

The 80’s Recession was one of the worst and longest.

I was just out of the Army and was a salesperson at Digital Equipment Corporation. I was complaining about the weakness of our local network technology.

One of my colleagues, Caroline Baker, said, “You can offer the best solution even if you don’t have the best product.”

I thought about what she said and decided to give her advice a try.

First, I reasoned that no matter how good the technology, most users don’t like change. So it’s hard to deploy anything new – networks, CRM systems, selling systems – anything.

In fact, the Government Services Administration says 67% of federal IT projects never produce the intended results. Gartner reports similar numbers on the commercial side.

The risk of buying technology that will not be put to use makes buyers even more skeptical of making large purchases. I thought that a salesperson could win them over by offering a solution that optimized the deployment process.

Leaders in the organizations I sold to recognized the problem of acceptance and valued a total solution that minimized disruption and optimized adoption. So they picked my complete solution over technology-only offerings.

I enlisted the support of the power users in organizations to participate in a small pilot network. We adjusted the user interface based on their input.

When we rolled the network out users encountered a new interface, and they were not happy. But the power users who helped build the network helped their colleagues through the learning curve, making adoption smoother.

Let’s take that example and step back to the big picture.

Growth Flywheel

A modern selling system is not linear and does not end when the customer buys. The final step in the buyer’s journey is to become a promoter.

Promoters can say things about you with credibility.

Important point! → You can say the same things about your solutions with little to no impact.

Even case studies, since they come from sellers, are ineffective compared to positive word of mouth from happy customers.

Positive Word of Mouth Referrals

Advocacy from happy customers results in:

  • Additional opportunities to serve
  • Referrals to peers

Positive word of mouth drives the growth flywheel.

To summarize:

  1. The odds of getting the flywheel turning are low (about 33%).
  2. Turning customers into promoters requires a proactive process because the default is rejection – not adoption.

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