Even when the economy is showing signs of strength, it’s constantly shifting. At any moment, these slight movements can scare consumers and clients into a spending freeze. Unfortunately, they may already be tightening their purse strings in preparation for the next recession.
And they have good reason.
According to economic trends reported by The Bloomberg View, the last 10 recessions followed almost immediately after a dip in unemployment. With the United States’ current record-breaking low unemployment rates, there’s more reason than ever for customers to fear their economic future.
However, these predictions are just that — mere guesses based on fears of what’s to come. As a strong sales pro, you know there’s no time to let fears of unforeseen financial security negatively impact your sales goals. So, when economic factors start creeping into sales calls, you need to focus on being proactive and prepared.
Follow these tips to prevent economic fears from affecting your sales goals:
1. Don’t be a fair-weather fan
It’s easy to chat with clients when they’re going through an upswing. They’re happier, more open to your products, and give you the necessary confidence to go in for the close. When times are tough, however, your desire to just “pop in” dwindles. Whether you’re having trouble making a connection or a customer is dragging out the sales process due to economic uncertainty, being a dedicated sales rep only during positive times makes customers feel devalued.
Customers will see your lack of attention as a red flag. They’ll, then, begin the process of building their walls. And it’s well-known, it’s easier to walk through a door than break down a wall. To continue hitting sales goals, reps need to develop client relationships that reach far beyond the means of a sale.
No matter how easy it is to sell to a customer, don’t become a fair-weather fan. They need your expertise and, often times, just an ear to listen to them more frequently than the monthly drop-in. When customers hit a bump in their economic road, finding ways to create these deeper relationships will save your sales goals.
Stop in with customers even when the visit is out of your way. Hand-deliver a thank you note. Let them know it isn’t just their business that’s appreciated. Thank them for their time, trust, and their consideration. Small, genuine gestures let customers know you’re thinking about them, even when you’re not directly benefited by the visit.
2. Hit that emotional sweet spot
No matter how evolved society has become with intelligent technology and unlimited resources, emotions will forever play a critical role in decision-making. In fact, according to neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, emotions play a central role in social cognition and decision-making.
Customers who are bracing themselves for rough economic times will need more emotional-focused sales. The more emotionally connected you are with customers, the less convincing you’ll need to do when economic stressors arise. That’s because emotional buying puts your product above the price in consumers’ minds.
Take into account the customers you’ve developed the deepest relationships with throughout your sales career. You’ve connected below the surface of sales about hobbies, kids, sports teams, books — the list goes on and on.
At this point, they don’t simply know you as a reliable sales rep. Now, they fully trust you with their company and may even consider you a friend. Use the same tactic when facing all new and current customers. If you attempt to connect over hobbies and that doesn’t work, keep trying until you find what makes them tick.
After hitting your customer’s emotional sweet spot, most competitors won’t stand a chance. When they come in at a lower price point, the decision to purchase that product over yours will be slowed or altogether halted by their emotional connection with you.
3. Play to their buying motivations
Some people shop because retail therapy melts away the stress of a bad work week. Others only shop when it’s absolutely necessary. There are also those types who go shopping on Christmas Eve and base their purchasing decisions on ending the buying experience as quickly as possible.
While your customers are likely not shopping to ease stressful work woes, they do have emotional buying motivations — and you need to know them. According to a report by Smith.co, Emotional Drivers of Purchase Decisions, buying motivations can be narrowed down to these eight categories:
– Know-It-All: I’m shopping for information more than I am actually buying something.
– Needs Validation: I’m shopping by opinions — yours, mine, his, hers — everybody’s opinion.
– Got to be First: I shop and buy cool.
– Want Some Fun: Shopping is a hobby and I like to have fun.
– Avoid Remorse: Shopping is a chore for me. I’m looking to buy on the easiest, trusted path.
– Decision Anxiety: I get overwhelmed when I shop. I want to take my time.
– I’m Special: I expect the product and shopping experience to be top of the line.
– Buy and be Done: I get easily frustrated when I shop because I don’t get why I need all these extra ways to shop.
You likely could point out various customers who fall under these specific, motivational categories. Once you’ve identified your customers’ categories, you need to determine a direct plan of action. Their buying motivations will only become stronger and more narrow when economic fears fall into play.
Let’s look at “Avoid Remorse” as an example. These are the customers who purchase products based on what they’ve always done or because that’s what their successor noted as reliable. Plain and simple, they’re not going to like change or spending time listening to your new pitches.
Consider their motivation. Keep your visits focused on the emotional side of sales. Use only a small portion to focus on your product. At that point, show them why your product is even easier to implement than the one currently in place. When they have an inquiry, respond immediately. If their question pertains to lowering the price, call your supervisor on the spot so they don’t need to wait once you walk out the door.