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How to make sales in a slow market

How do we ensure market dynamics don’t impact on our performance? We ask our top sales performers Joe and Finley what they’re doing to maintain control of their outcomes.

Joe Bristow and Finley Jones

3 minute read

Q: How much control do we have around our sales performance in a slow market?

A: 100% control, starting from mindset; if you perceive and believe it to be a slow market, then it will be a slow market.

If the things you’ve always done, aren’t working to the same effect, adjust your approach. Pick up the phone, try different ways of reaching people, don’t just keep doing the same things. It can be as simple as adjusting volume. During Covid we doubled the number of pitches we delivered. It’s important not just to stick with the same KPIs and the same methods when things aren’t working.

Q: How can we best forecast sales right now?

A: It’s important to be measuring the right things in the first place. How long does it typically take to close a sale in your business, and what are the statistics across that process? How many conversations, meetings, proposals do you need to hit your numbers? Once tracking data is in place, make it dynamic. A quarter is a good period of data to review before making a change. It could be that your stats were consistent for the entirety of last year – perhaps it took 5 proposals to win a deal, but for the first quarter of this year they’re totally out – it now takes 10. Adapt, change. Adjust the KPIs to match the requirements.

What’s important is not to start questioning your sales capability if it has previously performed. If your positioning, products and people have worked before, they will again. Just track the data and adjust the process. Importantly, change one thing at a time so that you know what is working, if you adjust a lot at once you won’t know which were the right levers.

Q: What trends are you seeing in proposals in conversions?

A: In our sales process – a consultative service sale - we’re seeing that it’s taking longer to make decisions and that there are more people getting involved in decisions: Board members and, often, the Chairperson. So, we have adjusted our sales process: we ask who needs to be involved from the start, and we bring those people into conversations earlier in the process to get buy-in.

Q: How can we encourage people to buy in a risk-adverse environment?

A: It’s sales 101 and yet always worth remembering: people buy for fear or greed – either they want to avoid something/solve a problem or they want to achieve something. It’s important to understand what motivates the person you’re speaking with, what their priorities and challenges are, and how your offering delivers aligned value. People’s motivations can change, so don’t make assumptions – move forward on checked facts, not believed facts.

Q: What else can we do to make a sale in a slow market?

A: It’s critical to understand whether the challenge is a sales challenge or not. If it’s a sales challenge, then it will be about putting in place a sales system and/or hiring strong sales capability, two things we can help businesses achieve.

However, the problem often isn’t a sales one – it sits further up the Go-To-Market chain, typically in the positioning step (check out the infographic at the top of this blog). Correctly diagnosing the problem is critical to fixing it.

We help businesses diagnose the problem using our Scale-Up Assessment. This project analyses the People Systems, Revenue Systems and Valuation Systems of the business and highlights the areas that need work. Once the right problem is identified, the solution is clear.

So when shall we get started?

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