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Selling in a Downturn: Opportunities & Best Practices

Posted by IndustrySelect on Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Tips for Selling in a Recession


The mention of a looming recession evokes groans from sales and marketing reps everywhere. Still, you may find success at selling in a recession isn't as elusive as it sounds.

What is a Recession and Are We In One?

You may hear what defines a recession is two back-to-back quarters in which there's a fall in the gross domestic product (GDP). According to that indicator, the United States reached a recession in the summer of 2022. However, that is not the complete picture. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the organization that defines business cycles, recognizes a recession by looking at economic declines over a span of months. By its measures, we didn’t enter a recession.

Some statistics support NBER’s view. The labor market is strong, as are corporate earnings. Neither of those would indicate an economic downturn. Still, manufacturing activity contracted by 0.7% in October 2022. Order rates also fell over the last five months. However, the rate of decline lessened. The threat of a recession may still be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Customer demand slows in response to fears of a slowdown.

What Are The Bright Spots for Manufacturing? 

After eight months of supply chain restrictions, labor shortages and demand exceeding supply, the outlook in U.S. manufacturing is shifting. Manufacturers are placing bets on new products as demand for current offerings softens. This change in focus gives you openings as a potential supplier. According to the most recent survey of industrial executives by the Institute for Supply Management, opportunities beckon in eight of eighteen manufacturing sectors, which are currently in growth mode. These are:

● Machinery

● Coal & Petroleum Products

● Transportation Equipment

● Nonmetallic mineral products

● Apparel, Leather & Allied Products

● Plastic & Rubber Products

● Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components

● Miscellaneous Manufacturing Industries

How Can You Turn the Downturn into an Upturn in Sales?

Closing deals in a downturn requires effort and strategy. Notable tips for successful recession selling are:

1. Reach more people. Regardless of how well-crafted your pitch is, you’re going to get turned down a substantial percentage of the time. Recessions make customers nervous about devoting limited resources, even for impressive returns. You may have to triple or even quadruple the number of calls you make to close a sale. However, the customers are out there. With enough perseverance, you’ll make the right connections.

2. Review unsuccessful calls. Before moving on to your next target, examine the reasons your presentation failed to produce a conversion. Was there a question you couldn’t answer? Was your product incompatible with the conditions in the shop? Was your contact not empowered to close a deal at your price level? The more you can correct losing issues, the higher your conversion rate will become.

3. Go after lost customers. Although it may sound counterintuitive, customers who weren’t prepared to make the jump to your product during good times may see the need for a new opportunity now. Management may be seeking a change in capabilities or direction. They may even be anxious to meet with you. Your product could provide just the pivot point the company is looking for to survive in a changing market.

4. Don’t mention the price too early in your presentation. For customers obsessing over details, bringing up numbers too soon can bring a conversation to a premature halt. Instead, present the case for your product to cut overhead or increase revenues. Once you’ve excited them over the advantages you bring to their business, you can negotiate the costs.

5. Focus on planning. In a downtime, every aspect of a B2B purchase comes under sharp scrutiny. Before you present to a potential customer, equip yourself to answer specific questions regarding time savings, production increases, integration, scalability and reliability. The more you can demonstrate the complete thought processes involved in developing your product, the more comfortable your customer will be with a purchase.

6. Involve executives in the process as soon as possible. As businesses struggle to find their footing, they’ll be looking to expand their potential. The decision to use your products to chart a new course most likely requires an executive signature to close the deal. The sooner you open talks at higher levels, the better your chance of making a sale.

How Do You Find the Contacts You Need?

Without intelligent prospecting, you’ll never find the gold. To make more calls, you need data on more prospects. Reliable information becomes particularly vital when you need to involve the executive suite. Fortunately, IndustrySelect can competently provide what you need for successful selling in a recession. With a subscription to IndustrySelect, you can identify your prospects by their industry, company size and location.

With comprehensive profiles of industrial companies and extensive filtering criteria, you can pinpoint the executives you need to contact by name and title, as well as obtain their emails. You can even sync the information with your address book. By using IndustrySelect, you will expand your customer base by identifying the best matches for existing purchasers. If you’re short on staff, IndustrySelect can even make calls and appointments for you.

Don’t let a downturn send your sales downhill. Try a free demo now.

Want to keep up with the latest sales and marketing trends and exclusive industrial statistics from MNI? The free weekly IndustrySelect Insider email is the industry's top source for sales, marketing and industrial news you can't find anywhere else. Subscribe here.

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