Do you remember the line from Rudyard Kipling’s epic poem, “If”? “… if you can keep your head when all around you people are losing theirs and blaming you for it?” In one of our recent surveys we asked, “What is the most disturbing trend you’ve noticed in the past year?” And the top answer? “People doing too many tasks; no room to think.” Indeed: losing ones head.
One would like to think that when times are tough – like trying to do marketing when budgets are put under a microscope and emotions are running high – that we slow down, think smarter, and come up with considered solutions. Instead, the opposite is often true. We run the risk of exacerbating a bad situation with bad decision-making. So let’s slow down and think of how we should react to today’s business climate.
Tip #1: The sky is NOT falling. Our economy is growing at 2-3% a year instead of, perhaps, 4-5%. Life goes on. The cover story to the May 7th, 2012 issue of Newsweek is titled, “America is Winning.” We attract the world’s immigrants because we’re great.
Tip #2: Talk to your customers. Companies are buying. They have to. You just have to figure out what and why they’re buying. That’s classic solution selling, isn’t it? This is time-tested and valuable in any economic cycle. So how do you find out what your market needs? Ask them. If your budgets have been slashed this is NOT a time for fancy ads hyping features or attending expensive shows. Take a breath and talk to your prospects. Surveying your Key Accounts has never been more valuable.
Tip #3: Avoid waste. Seems obvious, right? Many might think this means rigorously analyzing the ROI of every dollar spent. If your company has long sales cycles (don’t delude yourself: Many solutions take a year to close), such analyses can be deceiving. So concentrate on the basics. Is your database of prospect names clean and comprehensive? Are your emails getting through? Is the sales team rapidly following up on leads? Control what you can.
Tip #4: Respect your buyers and the pressures THEY face. Guess what? Its tough everywhere. High fliers like Apple, Google and Facebook are under intense pressure. Sure they’ve got cash, but every middle manager goes to work on Friday wondering if their boss might stop by for a little chat. Expect every buying decision to take longer. You’ll need to nurture leads a lot more. Give prospects smart, compelling data to help inform the buyer’s journey. Have highly relevant reference stories to help back up your claims.
Tip #5: Be the voice of reason. Advocate for the basics that have always worked: Identifying the accounts that need your solutions. Listening to your key accounts to gather facts about buying behavior. Providing honest, clear information to prospects. Be the clear-headed optimist. Make it so when the boss stops by on Friday afternoons its to get cheered up… and be reminded why the sky is NOT falling!
To learn more, download our report on “Target Account Penetration Strategies.”