Do you know where your clients are?

It’s not always about revenue growth. Wow, did I really say that? It surprises me, too, but different times call for different approaches.

I was struggling with a new way to position referral selling during a recession. I knew companies needed to trim costs across the board. Laying employees off was just a first step. But I wasn’t sure what this meant for their businesses … or for mine. Then I read Todd Caponi’s post on SalesHacker: “3 Not-So-Obvious Shifts You MUST Make to Sell in Uncertain Times.”

Todd suggests we can actually read our customers’ minds. You’ve heard me say our clients aren’t mind-readers. You must ask them for referrals. Was I wrong? Yes and no. You definitely need to ask for referrals to receive them at scale. But yes, I was wrong for having pandemic brain. Yes, I was wrong for having economic uncertainty brain. And yes, I was wrong for thinking that revenue growth was all that mattered.

Todd offered three tips for selling in uncertain times. The first—“Optimizing the Message”—was what I needed to hear. He wrote:

“We are now in a period where we can actually read the minds of your buyers. When the market is on an upswing, our customers and prospects may be focused on a whole host of things. However, during a period of uncertainty and the resulting downturn, every customer, buyer, and human being is essentially thinking about the same three things.”

Those three things are eliminating discretionary spend, extending the runway on essentials, and minimizing risk.

That was my ah-hah moment. I knew I needed to reposition why referrals work and why they’re not discretionary now. Referrals cut costs, increase productivity, and minimize risk. Salespeople score meetings with qualified prospects in one call. Overall, they make fewer calls, talk to the right people, ensure qualified leads, decrease time to close, and drive revenue.

My new question to clients and prospects: “Are you in minimizing-risk mode, cost-savings mode, growth mode … or just ‘leave me alone’ mode?”

Ask your clients the same question, and show them that you can, in fact, read their minds—at least for now.

Read Todd’s complete post for more “not-so-obvious shifts” you should be making right now. Then, learn about referral selling in my new Sales Expert Channel presentation, “How to Recession Proof Your Sales in 9 Killer Steps.”

(Featured image attribution: Julia M. Cameron)

Wondering how your team will keep selling in an economic downturn? Invite Joanne to lead a discussion about “How to Boost Your Sales in a Volatile Economy” at your next virtual or in-person sales meeting. Email joanne@nomorecoldcalling.com or call 415.461.8763.

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