MonthApril 2009

Selling in a “Down Economy”

Lots of people on various social networks are asking how the Down Economy is affecting salespeople. I’m going to step out on a limb here and speak for everyone: The good salespeople are still doing well – the average to poor ones are struggling.

Yes its more difficult to close deals right now as people are more watchful of their pennies and dimes. But they still want/need your product. You just may have to slow down a little, be a bit more patient and understanding with them. It will take more salesmanship now, you’re going to have to step your game up. You’re going to need to use closes you haven’t broken out in a while. You’re going to need to be better at follow up and more importantly follow through than ever before.

The best ways to get through this without eating a ton of negative energy?

  1. Turn off the news – Newscasters get paid to scare people.
  2. When people ask how bad it is for you, respond with something like “I don’t know what all the fuss is about, I’m still doing great”
  3. Remember that people are buying – there are deals to be had.
  4. Use it to your advantage – tell clients that now is the time to buy because things are going to be better and therefore more expensive later.

Lesson for today: The economy is no excuse for failing.

Sweat Equity

Definition from Wikipedia:

Sweat equity is a term used to describe the contribution made to a project by people who contribute their time and effort. It can be contrasted with financial equity which is the money contributed towards the project. It is used to refer to a form of compensation by businesses to their owners or employees. The term is sometimes used in partnership agreements where one or more of the partners contributes no financial capital. In the case of a business startup, employees might, upon incorporation, receive stock or stock options in return for working for below-market salaries (or in some cases no salary at all).

If you are committed to building something, be it a company, a community, or yourself – you’re going to be putting in long hours with little direct (monetary) benefit. Why would you do this? If you believe that the outcome is worth it, then you’ll do this. Why do most lottery winners end up bankrupt? Because they didn’t earn the money so they don’t know what to do with it. Remember that “overnight” success usually means years of work. Little is going to be just given to you, you’re going to have to earn most of it.

The successful people you look up to put in their blood, sweat, and time to get where they are today. They spent long hours at little to no pay to make their vision happen.

What are you putting your sweat equity in to and how are you making sure that it pays off?

Being You

Ever meet someone in person after talking to them on the phone or email and finding them to be not what you expected? How about when you meet someone who works at a company and you find the presentation to be very different from their marketed persona? Some call this brand dissonance – and it is one of the surest ways to cost yourself clients and reputation. If you lose touch with your online persona the moment someone talks to you in person, then they are going to start thinking of what other things are going to change from interaction to interaction? Is your product as good as you’re portraying? Is your customer service going to fall off over time? Are you going to be a different person when they’re happy versus upset?

Be who you are – that’s all you have to show people.

The Anti-Pitch (A Response)

This blog post by Big Bang Technology was pointed out to me by Josh Knowles and it resonated with me. Please read it first then come back. I’ll wait.

Ok now that you’re back: This is a problem that we run into at Integrum on a regular basis. There are plenty of software companies who are willing to use unrealistically low prices and shiny portfolios to wow clients into using them. They then bail on the client midstream after not being able to meet promises, or they turn in ugly code that doesn’t do all they promised. These clients then come looking for help from a professional development shop but blew their budget on the scuzzy developer(s).

Max Cameron at Big Bang came up with a great response in his post there – so good in fact that I’m going to steal some of the ideas there and make my own version. He admits that it may lose him some clients – but I’m willing to guess that some of those “lost” clients would not have been ideal for him anyway. These clients often are so burnt by the previous development staff that they are overly cautious or controlling through the process. Additionally I think his honesty and expectations setting are going to earn him more clients than he loses – and more loyal ones. His focus on value over price is the real key.

Kudos to Max for coming up with a great response to a difficult and growing problem.

Get Out The Way

(apologies to Ludacris for the title…..)

This is my fourth week of my commitment to post something every weekday. I’ve had seventeen posts to the blog before this one and some are definitely better than others. The one defining thing that separates the top of the pile from the rest – I didn’t edit them.

Some of my better ones (from what little feedback I get) were written in about as much time as it takes you to read them. I just trusted myself to put something on paper and let it run.

I described this to someone as “staying out of my own way” and I can’t think of a better way to describe it. This methodology will apply in any place where you have the opportunity to self-censor. Most of the time your first instinct will be right – your brain is smarter than you think – so if you run with that, you’re likely on the right track.

Don’t be afraid to say something without thinking through all of the possible responses your client will have to it first.
Don’t be afraid to publish a blog post without reading through it first and changing the wording so it sounds better.
Don’t be in your own way.

This obviously isn’t going to work everytime. Don’t follow this advice when upset, angry, frustrated, or otherwise in a bad mood. I’m not to be held responsible when you get fired for failing to heed the previous sentence.

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