The time for you to start climbing out of the hole that you find yourself in is now. There is no benefit from waiting to begin your recovery. It doesn’t help you to wait until things settle down, watching them get worse, feeling a sense of dread, allowing yourself to be disempowered by events.
Take Back Your Power
When events and circumstances beyond your control derail your goals and plans, the fact that you can do nothing about the root cause of the challenge can make you feel as if you have no power. Even though you feel as if you are powerless, you are not. While you may not control the root cause of a crisis, you can manage your response. You can determine what you believe, and you can manage your reaction.
There is every reason to maintain a mindset that is positive, optimistic, future-oriented, and empowered. Being confident doesn’t require that you pretend nothing is wrong in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Instead, it is the belief that you are going to succeed despite the challenges you face. An even more empowering belief system is one that believes adversity is a gift, one that stretches you, that causes you to grow, to improve yourself—and your company and your clients.
Your mindset is critical because it is what will determine your actions. Nothing gets better unless you make it so.
Build Your Plan of Action
In a time of great crisis, especially one that impacts your business, it doesn’t pay to treat extraordinary circumstances like things are business as usual. Instead, it’s business unusual, which means you need to do things differently. That starts with a plan of action.
When a crisis harms your sales, improving your results means more activity and greater effectiveness. Your plan needs to require massive action in response to the crisis that causes a loss or reduction of sales. There are only four ways to grow revenue, and you should use as many of them as possible, starting with selling more to your existing clients, communicating with them at a higher frequency, and making sure you retain them.
You also need to acquire new clients, ones who can give you new revenue—and potential growth. However much prospecting you were doing before the crisis, you need to double your effort and increase the number of opportunities you create. There are always clients who need help recovering from their own crisis, and identifying and helping them recover helps you recover.
When you have the power to do so, raising your prices increases your revenue. The last way to grow is to acquire a competitor. This sales strategy is useful for those with the resources to do so but denied to most sales organizations. Not only will you feel better having made a plan to recover, taking action will provide you with a sense of direction, a sense of certainty that you are going to be able to rebuild.
Improving Your Effectiveness
When every opportunity counts, improving your effectiveness is critical. You want to do everything you can to ensure your win. Speeding up your recovery means slowing down, focusing on the fundamentals of effective selling, and doing the work necessary to ensure you win big deals.
You may not have built a territory and account plan, targeting your dream clients and developing a pursuit plan. Now is the time to be clear about who your dream clients are and tighten up your theory about why they should change and how you can help. Your sporadic approach to prospecting needs to be driven instead by a valid prospecting sequence. You might also have lost your discipline around creating new opportunities and building a pipeline. When new opportunities from existing and new clients are critical to your recovery, focusing on building a pipeline is the only way forward.
Under normal circumstances, you may have been lax in your pursuit of opportunities, going through the motions of sales activity without being intentional about the outcome of each interaction in the sales conversation through which you are leading your prospective clients. If you are going to sell your way out of a crisis, you need to treat every opportunity as if it is critical, planning your sales calls, following your sales process, and using the methodologies that are proven to increase your results.
The key to improving your win rate, in good times and bad, is to improve your effectiveness. If you want better results, you have to improve your ability to produce better results, something that is as true for sales managers as it is for their sales reps. Better sales leaders get better results from their sales teams. Better salespeople win more—and better deals.
It has been said that one should never waste a crisis. Use this one to improve your effectiveness, taking more action, and improving your efficiency in the fundamentals of good sales.
Create a War Room
A war room is a place from which to plan, communicate, and adjust your approach as things change. Your competitor is not your enemy, and most of them won’t respond as aggressively as they might need to. Instead, your enemy is the poor results that come with an economic crisis.
In a crisis, more communication is necessary. Feedback as to what is working, what isn’t, and what adjustments you need to make is critical. When something is working, you want to do more of it, making sure everyone is aware and has access to strategies and tactics. When something isn’t working, you may need to find another way by making adjustments or making changes to your approach.
Most importantly, you want a visible place to keep score. Your progress will be slow if it isn’t significant enough to track and communicate. In complex B2B consultative sales, we tend to measure our results less frequently than we should, especially when sales cycles are long and decisions require building consensus. That won’t do as you sell your way out of a crisis. You are going to need to measure sales effectiveness more frequently in B2B sales.
The First Rule of Getting Out of a Hole
The first rule for getting out of a hole is to stop digging. Maybe you have been too lax about sales prospecting and sales effectiveness. You may have been able to grow because your vertical was increasing, a rising tide lifting all boats. When the water recedes, you can see the stumps, the companies that were only growing because their market was growing.
Increasing your revenue means selling more. You do not benefit from waiting for the crisis to end before you decide to improve your sales results. The way out of any crisis is always to sell your way out. Get moving.