Like it or not, experts agree there’s a recession looming on the horizon. And the sales professionals that know how to tweak their strategy accordingly are the ones that will survive, even thrive over the next few years.
Here’s how to do it.
Today we’re talking about concepts covered in the amazing sales book The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson of the business advisory firm CEB.
The Last Recession
The last recession of 2008 and 2009. If you were working in the industry at the time, you probably remember how hard it was on sales professionals. Clients jumped ship, prospects were unresponsive and had a death grip on their budgets. And old tried and true strategies just didn’t bring in the same results.
And yet, some reps were still able to succeed despite it all.
Dixon and Adamson’s business advisory firm CEB surveyed thousands of sales reps from around the world during this period. And they found that those who did succeed had one thing in common…
They pushed customers to think and act differently.
Building relationships still mattered of course. But what was even more impactful was a rep’s ability to challenge the customer, push back, and take control of the sales conversation.
And if you want in on that same success during a recession, here’s what you need to do…
The 6-Step Push Back Method
It all starts with the 6-Step Push Back Method.
With a recession, times are tight. Everything is tight. And more than ever buyers want new ways to solve problems, not easy ways to get rid of their cash. For you, that means you’ll have to push a little harder when you know you can help a prospect in a way that’s different to what they want right now.
You have a unique perspective on the customer’s business and communication ability. So it’s up to you to push back and teach prospects about the issue they’re facing.
Your solution might not be the solution they’re looking for. But with a bit of education, they’ll realize it’s the solution they actually need.
Okay, so how do you push back and teach?
1. The Warm-Up
Step one is The Warm-Up. This is where you present your assessment of the key issues facing the customer. And you’ll use past clients and other prospects you’ve been working with as inspiration here.
Let them know what you’ve seen with other similar companies. And then, wait for their reaction.
After that we move to reframing. This is where you’ll offer a unique insight about their problem that connects it to a bigger, more substantial problem or opportunity. For instance, a prospect may be looking for a project management tool since their accounting department can never hit deadlines. But if you’re selling an accounting automation program, you might reframe the problem as a software problem, not a time management problem.
3. Rational Drowning
Step three is rational drowning. This is where you present the data that builds the case for why your prospect should consider your reframing. How much have other companies you’ve worked with increased their efficiency with your product?
The goal is to make the prospect uncomfortable with their current approach and more open to a new one.
4. Emotional Impact
Next is emotional impact. This step is about connecting the prospect’s emotions with the problem. Storytelling is a fantastic way to do just that. And in the Selling Made Simple Academy, we’ve got a whole framework dedicated specifically to storytelling. We’ve even done a video on the technique which you can find at the end of this guide.
After you’ve connected emotionally, it’s time to show them…
5. A New Way
A new way. Talk about the capabilities your customer needs in order to solve this new, reframed problem. Here we’re selling them on the new solution. They have to accept that before we can move on to selling…
6. Your Solution
Your solution. This is the final step. And it’s where you’re demonstrating that your solution is the right solution. If you’ve succeeded in each of the five steps up until this point, this final one should be a breeze.
So there you have it, the 6-step push back method for selling in a recession.
Now there’s one other thing you can do to maximize your selling success during a recession. And that’s…
Everyone’s priorities are bound to be scattered during this time. And that means nobody will commit to anything because they’re going to feel like it’s one disaster after another hitting their company.
If you don’t learn how to take control of the sales process and guide them through it, you’ll be forgotten about for the next latest issue that needs solving.
For example, say your prospect brings up the all-too-common issue of price.
“Times are tough, budgets are tight. Can you offer a 10% discount?” We’ve all heard it before. But during a recession, you’re going to hear it a lot more.
Now one way to deal with this situation is to give in to the conversation. Indulge them, talk to the manager, and see if a discount will work on your end.
But what The Challenger Sale’s research found is that the type of rep that thrives during a recession is the one that stands firm when the customer pushes back. Rather than letting the customer guide the conversation into discount territory, they shift. They refocus the conversation on the value of the offering, not the price.
When you take control of the conversation, you are in a better position to teach prospects about the problem, educate them on the value of your product, and eventually close the sale.
So stand firm, no matter how tempted you may be to give in!
No one likes a recession.
But with a bit of tweaking to your strategy, you can come out unscathed and perhaps even better off than you were before!