A less-than-stellar economy like the one the nation has been wading through for the last year or so is nothing but an excuse for not making and breaking sales records.
"You can grow your business regardless of the economy," Bill Farquharson, president of Duxbury, Massachusetts-based training company Print Tec Network, explained. "It's about the fundamentals."
Farquharson, who started his career selling business forms for a large company, said the most important component is diligence.
There are more than a handful of salespeople who are scratching their heads, wondering why their voice mail messages go unreturned, he observed. There is a misplaced expectation in the sales world that leaving messages means one will get returned. That is simply not the case, Farquharson continued.
The purpose of voice mail is to demonstrate diligence. Unfortunately, Farquharson estimated that approximately 90 percent of the time a salesperson leaves one little voice mail message and then fails to follow up with the prospect. Repeated messages prove persistence, which goes a long way in proving how hard a salesperson is willing to work for a customer.
"This is a homogeneous market. If you want to differentiate yourself, call twice. By today's standards this is stalking," Farquharson joked. "It shows you don't give up."
Call quality also is very important when it comes to landing a sale. "What customers want is to grow their businesses," he continued. "Research a company, put thought into what their problems might be and then solve them."
Savvy salespeople will focus on customers' needs instead of the recession.
"I don't care what's going on with the economy," Farquharson stated. "If customers are busting your chops over price, then you are doing something wrong. It's about what you have done for them lately."
Linda Bishop, president of Atlanta-based training and consulting company Thought Transformation, has a slightly different take. She believes there are three things sales representatives must do in a down economy: talk to more potential customers, get more meetings and improve them and finally, be more efficient when closing a sale. She suggested reaching out to more clients by cold calling, networking and asking for referrals from customers.