When the going gets tough, the tough salesperson gets tougher


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Tough economic times quickly separate average salespeople away from excellent salespeople.  An average salesperson can sell in good economic times, however, it’s the  excellent salesperson that figures out a way to make quota during tough economic times.

Here are some best practices from excellent salespeople that sell in any economy.

Top salespeople watch their self-talk.  You know—that chatter in your brain that says, “No one is buying, people are only buying on price, we don’t have good marketing materials.”  The excellent salesperson knows he/she is in charge of their brain and chooses not to rent space to such worthless dialogue.  Their chatter restates the facts and says, “Someone is buying and I am great at finding prospects with money.”    Or, “I can outwork and outsmart my competitors that are home complaining and watching Dr. Phil.”   

Top salespeople evaluate every sales activity and evaluate the ROI.  The excellent sales professional knows that tougher economic times requires kicking up the sales activity plan to get more prospects in the pipeline to offset longer buying cycles.  They make sure every networking activity is worth their time.  Yes, it’s fun to go to lunch with a friend, however, it’s more productive to set up a lunch with a potential referral partner, a good client or prospect.  They have analyzed 2010 and eliminated referral partners and sales activities that are not producing results.

Top salespeople manage their time well.  Top sales producers know that every wasted minute and hour takes away from their prosperity.  These salespeople make daily to do lists, figure out the three highest value activities for the day and then execute.  They don’t say nonsense like, “My plan is all in my head,”  because top sales producers know plans in the head stay in the head!   Top sales producers know that writing down goals, with a deadline, increases the completion of the goal by over 80%.   

Top salespeople get over themselves.  Instead of worrying about their sales woes, the excellent salesperson is constantly asking him/herself  what they can help  their customers.    They set up meetings with customers during tough economic times to learn about  other resources that might be of value to their customers, outside of their service offerings.  Then they follow through and make it happen!  The result is trusted advisor status which leads to client retention, referrals and raving fans.

Colleen Stanley
Colleen Stanley is president of SalesLeadership, Inc. a business development consulting firm specializing in sales and sales management training. The company provides programs in prospecting, referral strategies, consultative sales training, sales management training, emotional intelligence and hiring/selection. She is the author of two books, Emotional Intelligence For Sales Success, now published in six languages, and author of Growing Great Sales Teams.


  1. Great post! Time is money, and in a tough economy, there isn’t much low-hanging fruit. A lot rides on prospect research these days; business information vendors are working harder than ever to deliver what sales pros need, how and when they need it. I think we’ll see continue to see more offerings that allow sales reps to access more information within their workflow—information that is increasingly customized to fit their preferences—integrated across multiple platforms (e.g., PC, mobile, etc.). This will address complaints from sales managers who perceive research as a giant time sinkhole. Note: the views stated here are expressly my own and do not necessarily reflect the views/opinions of Hoover’s.


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