Selling in a Recession


Share on LinkedIn

The current talk of recession and the declining dollar is going to affect your business. You can let it get you down, or you can see it as an opportunity to surpass your competitors’ salespeople. Take the latter view.

How will these two double whammies present themselves? Well, prospects and customers will tell you they’re unsure about buying from you this year. They’re worried about their incomes being reduced; there will surely be some belt-tightening; everything is going to cost more and the company will be short-handed. Whatever the reasons, you can tell they are worried and are thinking they can’t afford to buy from you this year.

What should you do? Three rules will help you succeed in trying situations.

The first rule – Agree and offer assistance

Don’t argue with them; don’t tell them they’re wrong. If you do, you will lose credibility in their eyes. Arguing seldom changes a person’s mind. We see that in all the current political debates. How many voters change their mind? Darn few! The undecided voters might be swayed but they aren’t changing their mind, they’re making their decisions.

Instead of arguing, agree with them…tell them they are absolutely right – the dollar has tanked against most currencies, the recession is causing people to worry, companies may be making layoffs…and then add you have a number of clients who feel the same way and for them you have searched out excellent values, offered them alternatives they may not have considered, and helped them with new plans they found exciting.

We can’t stress enough that you should not disagree with your clients’ original statements in any way. Instead of saying, “Yes but I can show you how you can still buy this,” say, “Yes and I can show you how you can still buy this in today’s market.” The latter is more positive and will change more attitudes because it shows you are supporting them, not arguing with them.

The second rule – Support their beliefs, offer alternatives, build agreements

Since you are agreeing with them they will be more receptive to what you have to say, so suggest possibilities intermixed with reasons for buying now:

• “You’re right – the weak dollar is increasing the cost of items produced in Germany. We have several items that are under contract in dollars and if you order before the end of the month we can guarantee the price. Now is the time to stock up, don’t you agree?”
• “Yes, layoffs can happen at any time, and we have changed our policy to allow you to cancel up until 72 hours before delivery just to accommodate those concerns. That will work well for you, won’t it?”
• “In these unsettled economic times you’re probably more comfortable buying something that is produced in the U.S. and priced in dollars. Here’s what we have that will work for you….”

The third rule – Don’t wait, take the initiative

Waiting for clients to contact you with their concerns can be self-defeating. After all, if they are undecided about making a purchase this year, they probably won’t contact you and you won’t get a chance. Take the initiative and send your clients an email (or emails), saying you know they have concerns about the economy, the sliding dollar, etc., and you have some great ideas that address their concerns and will make their buying decisions look good.

Recessions are nothing to be afraid of. They offer smart salespeople many opportunities to outshine and out-maneuver their competitors. Follow the three rules above and you will find your business will not only survive, it will prosper.

Ken Hall
Ken Hall & Associates
Ken Hall is president of, a subscription-based online newsletter that studies consumer buying habits and traits and summarizes them into tips for home-based professionals. Although focusing on the retail travel industry, Hall's ideas and concepts apply to most consumer products and services.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here