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Steven Hudson
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Grant your right from a selling point of view most of us are soft (I say from a selling point of view as I would hate to generalising too much and having to say to big bad Barry Hall your soft, just ask Brent Staker) and that has been mainly through the great economic time with have enjoyed in the recent past.

When times are good we don’t have to work so hard to do the deal, easy come, easy go, there will be someone coming through the door who will buy on ‘my’ terms. But it wasn’t so long ago when we had the recession we had to have and times were tough back then.

The sales process for new business doesn’t change in good or bad times, it is just in the good times we become slack in doing what we should be doing on a daily basis. New business is a numbers game, do the number of calls that is the expected measure for your industry and the business will happen. i.e a Coke Cola rep may do 60 to 70 calls a day and BDE for heavy mining equipment might 60 to 70 calls a year.

For existing customers there are ways to brick wall customers to your offer, understanding the service we have been offering in the past is at the level it should have been. Not a matter of ‘Oh! Times are tuff, shock, horror, I will have to now actually give real service to survive”. Brick walling is about making it hard for the customer to walk, as they may lose something in the process besides the great relationship you have built. For example a loyalty program; a customer may have built up X amount of $’s in a program which they will lose if they move.

You could also consider working with another supplier and bundle up your offer together so it makes it hard for the competition to offer what is in the bundle. If you are graphic designer may want to do the printing for the customer?

I was pitching for some work for a printer and they never charged for delivery which their competitors did. The partners would always deliver the finished product and it was a great way for them to keep active in customer land and keeping a relationship with there customer base. Bad for me I was selling transport services.