The Mindset for an Anemic Business Climate


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In working with sales teams over the last few weeks — our own, customers and prospects — it’s clear everyone is trying to assess the implications of the recent precipitous economic decline. Then, we’ll determine how to respond (and this has me thinking of “re-sponse-able”).

This is especially true for sales professionals who have to sell (sail) into these headwinds. For sales people, this starts with having the right mindset. We are committed to producing the number regardless of the general economic circumstances. The question is how.

Dealing with a severe business downturn seems similar to the stages of dealing with death. Most people have moved from denial and anger over the past couple of weeks into depression today.

I’ve applied this framework to develop the following which seems to be helpful both for our selling mindset and to use as questions with customers.

I’m using this to determine a prospect’s mindset and likeliness to take action. But I’m also using it to prompt people to think beyond the current paralyzing state, or to refer me to people who are.

I see four stages prospects could go through:

  1. Deer in the Headlights — most people are in this stage now, given we are only four weeks into the economic chaos. It is difficult to engage people at this stage, and we hear language like, “I can’t even think about talking with you, we’re locking everything down until we decide our strategy.”
  2. Fight or Flight — people will have to decide whether to fight to find ways to win business and protect customers, or whether to retrench, hunker down and just weather the storm. Avoid the latter.
  3. Take Ground — some will determine now is the time to innovate their selling process, attack new market segments, or capture customers from marginal competitors who have hunkered down.
  4. Prepare for the Rebound — others will use the next couple of quarters to fix what is broken, implement better processes, work with target prospects so they are ready to capture business when the economic rebound hits. Those best prepared at that point will win more business sooner than competitors who have hunkered down.

Which of these strategies works for your organization? Use these as questions with your prospects to find the contacts who think the way that best aligns with your solutions.

This framework helps our selling mindset, prompts customers to think differently, and aligns us with those individuals who are willing to take action.

Jim Burns
Jim Burns is founder and CEO of Avitage, which provides content marketing services in support of lead management and sales enablement programs.


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