IS IT LUCK?
I am feeling very buoyant at the moment for I have detected small but significant changes in the economic climate. Specifically I have witnessed a more positive shift in business levels within my on organisation as well as with some of my clients. They are witnessing booking and enquiry levels well up on this time last year and it looks like this upsurge is sustainable. Is this a reflection of the overall economy? Well perhaps although analysts predict this double dip effect which I believe my clients will manage quite well. Why then are they so resilient to the vagaries of economics and different to many? I suspect it is because they have begun laying the foundations for recovery even before there were financial measures injected into the economy. These brave band of clients were able (and clever enough) to invest in their people when times were hard and their competitors were tightening their belts. They spent money on training and development and set up formalised structures to manage their accounts more efficiently. Their sales teams are now finding leads and taking enquiries and are feeling buffered from what’s going on around them.
The most common (and ill-conceived) phrase bandied around by them is: “I was really lucky to get that piece of business”. ‘Luck’ is the key word they are using more frequently today. How frustrating that (a) they cannot see that they make their own luck and (b) had they not called them in the first place there would be no enquiry to process and close today.
During a recession clients get used to not calling you or not hearing from you and so when they are ready to book business loyalty sometimes takes a nose dive if competition is fierce. As a result you either have to call all your clients with a legitimate reason for doing so or you risk missing out when the time is right. Are your sales teams jaded and expecting to hear a ‘no’ even before they pick up the phone or are they adhering to good practice and maintaining a dialogue even through the past few months? What we can see is that sales people who are calling having maintained contact with their clients through difficult times are receiving a better welcome and reception from their customers than those who had battened down the hatches, maintained a low profile and are now behaving in an obviously predatory fashion. Likewise those sales people who have had a reminder and refresher on good sales techniques are making greater inroads than their neglected colleagues.
The selection and type of objections are changing and so the techniques to address them have changed. What used to work before we dived off that cliff do not all work any more and we need to understand where our clients have been and where they wish to go now. Their internal politics may have changed. Financial directors have probably had more of a say in the recent past and as risk management becomes key to unlocking budgets. Remember that purse strings do not suddenly get released as if nothing has happened. They have got into the habit of managing their money and your sales people need to understand how to unlock that potential and divert funds from their bank accounts into yours.