Times are tough—we can all read the headlines. And selling is tougher than ever. The typical sales management reaction is to push the sales reps harder and demand more sales activity. Some managers will remind the reps that everyone’s job is on the line.

So guess what happens? The reps become even more aggressive and try to push the customer to buy now regardless if it makes sense or not to the buyer. On the customer side, the buyers’ jobs are also threatened and they find the harassment from their once friendly vendors revolting.

The truth is that all the pushing by the sales rep does not really work. It comes across as selfish and self-serving. It only serves to alienate the customer. The customer shuts down and does not return calls.

So what do you do? My recommendation is to focus on the buyers needs and put your product pitches aside. Turn off the PowerPoint and close down the laptop. Acknowledge that times are tough and remind the customer that “we” are in it for the long haul. Look for common ground and seek ways to help them. This is a time for relationship building and for networking. Think of others first. Help when and where you can. Stay in touch but don’t harass. Be genuine.

The orders will come back eventually, so make sure you will be welcome when they do.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2009 All rights reserved.

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