In the 80s, you know when the last bad recession hit the United States, all my jewelry competitors were walking around wringing their hands asking each other when it would end. Most everyone. I was among the aggressive that stopped reading the paper and listening to the experts about how bad things were. I was among the ones who did not react to the market conditions. I acted. And I acted very, very aggressively.
A few of my aggressive actions in a recession:
There are still people out there buying your products and services. Not as many, but there are a lot of them. If they are not buying from you, they are buying from your competition. All you have to do is take those customers away from your competition.
First you must stop the insanity - "Doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results." Your market has changed, you must change the way you market and sell.
You must become more aggressive. More aggressive in your marketing and selling techniques. More aggressive today than you were yesterday. And more aggressive tomorrow than you were today. You must be more aggressive than your competition in contacting your customers and theirs.
Remember the old saying, "To increase demand for your products and services, you must increase the offer."
In the Houston Astrodome 100 thousand salespeople were lined up against the west wall. Directly across the dome on the east wall were lined up 100 thousand customers. Then, every ten seconds, they walked toward each other until they were half the previous distance apart. A mathematician, a physicist, and an business professional were asked, "When will the salespeople and the customers meet?"
The mathematician said: "Never."
The physicist said: "In an infinite amount of time."
The business professional said: "When the offer is good enough."
You can survive and prosper during a recession if you act, not react.
Don't forget to use one of your most valuable assets - your customer list. Always go to your customer list. If they purchased from you once they will purchase your products and services again.
The key actions needed to surviving and prospering in a recession:
When the economy is slow, customers are not walking in your front door or telephoning, you must increase your marketing, which will increase your sales and profits. And you must lower your cost.
All you have to do is use what you got.
You got people. We always say our people are our most valuable asset. So start using this valuable asset more aggressively.
Look, there are going to be a lot of businesses go under this year and next. But remember you do not drown by going under water. You drown by staying under water.
So if you are about to go under water, or if you feel you are under now, lower your operating cost and lower your marketing cost, but increase the number of times you touch your customers and prospects. And you will come to the top, above those who sit and wait for the raging waters of recession to settle.
Aggressively hit the phones: Telephone your customers and prospects. The rule of how many times and how often you can contact customers and prospects: You can contact them as often as you want... As long as you are giving them VALUE. Information that will increase the two things we all never have enough of. Time and Money.
Hit the streets: The undisputed best way to build a relationship and increase sales is to put yourself face-to-face with your customers and prospects. But of course you do not have the time to get face-to-face with every customer and prospect. So determine your perfect prospects - the people buying what you sell that you can make the most amount of money from with the least amount of cost (money and time cost). To determine your perfect prospects make a list of all the demographics you want them to have. Examples: Level of income, location, education, number of items or different items you sell, etc. Match the demographics to your customer and prospecting list.
And get face-to-face with them. Use the telephone and direct mail (postal, e-mail, fax) to put yourself in front of the rest.
Hit the Direct Mail: Well composed letters and marketing materials, ones that get you noticed and remembered, are always great marketing tools. And do not forget you need to get your letters and marketing materials opened. Your customers and prospects are receiving more mail than ever. Be creative!
I know my competition is sending letters in #10 white envelopes or larger brown envelopes. To differentiate myself, to get noticed and remembered, I send letters in a zippered bank bag, or a tube. Many of my prospects contact a number of speakers/sales trainers at the same time asking for information. I send my materials to them by overnight mail. I get noticed and remembered. You must get noticed and remembered.
I have always found the best way to increase sales and profits in a slow economy are:
Taking these customers away from your competition is not always easy to do. For two reasons we never want to use the cutthroat, lower price tactics. First of all, we will not make the profit we need and desire, and a customer gained through low price will be easily lost when a competitor offers them a lower price.
Secondly, it is usually hard to take a customer away from the competition because of the loyalty people have to their suppliers. The longer the prospective customer has been a customer of our competition, usually the more loyalty they have to our competitor.
Taking customers away from your competition can be as easy as building a better relationship with your competition's customers than they have with them. Become more and more aggressive in contacting your competition's customers and more aggressive in providing them with solutions to their problems, needs and wants. I have 35 Aggressive Actions and 23 Sales Closing Techniques in my book "How to Take Customers Away from Your Competition" (available at www.BobJanet.com).
You do not need to be one of the businesses that stay under the water. You will not be when you become more aggressive in increasing your marketing while decreasing your costs.
Plus how to sell Add-Ons
Do not miss the opportunities to make money on products and services that enhance my use of the things I buy from you. Items and services that make your products and service serve me better and solve my problems, needs and wants.
Saturday afternoon, about a half hour before a Penn State football game I wanted to watch, my wife Jan comes home from shopping and tells me, "I have a flat tire on the front of my car." Having been married to her for over 42 years, I know what she did not say was what I needed to do. Go get it fixed.
So out to the garage I went, found my small electric pump and put enough air in the tire to get it across the street to the Firestone store. By the way, a business I do not like to frequent. I like to buy from mom and pop businesses, but sometimes I am like most others and spend my money where it is most convenient. In this case, right across the street from my home. They informed me it would be 2 hours or so and asked if I was going to wait. I told them I would leave the car and they said they would call me when it was ready.
Four hours later and about fifteen minutes before they closed I called them, asked if my tire was fixed and they said, "Oh, yes. We forgot to call you." "No kidding," I replied and sarcastically added, "Great service."
I quickly walked over, paid them for the work and drove off. Because of the configuration of the roads around the shopping center in our neighborhood it is much easier and faster to drive back to my house by going out the far end of the shopping center. As I turned to enter the highway, I noticed the state police had a road block set up stopping every vehicle. My savings of time for going out the far end of the parking lot was now gone and I waited my turn to be addressed by the police officer, with my license and registration in hand.
I pulled up and rolled down my window. He asked to see my license and registration while informing me this was a routine block and told me to stay in my car and he would be right back. Upon his return he said, "Mr. Janet everything seems to be in order except do you know your state inspection was due last month?"
Now, it was my fault I did not have the inspection done, but I quickly turned the blame to Firestone. After all my car was in their service bay for over four hours. Why didn't they look and see that I needed the car inspected? I mean that is their business to sell me all they can. To sell me add-on service and products. Inspecting cars is one way they make a ton of money. As the officer handed me my ticket I saw I was fined $25 plus $121 court cost. A total of $146.
I now was not only blaming Firestone, I was and still am a very angry ex-customer. From now on, as far as auto service is concerned, I will not take advantage of the convenience of Firestone being right across the street.
When we used to pump gas in front of our tire business we would always check the customers oil and while under the hood we checked for cracked belts, oil leaks, the need for a new air cleaner, etc. We even got down and checked under their vehicles for leaks and checked their tail pipes and mufflers and tire wear. We made lots of loyal customers and many, many add-on sales.
Are your eyes wide open looking for the problems, needs and wants you can solve for your customers? Are your eyes wide open looking for opportunities to make sales and profits and gain and retain customers?
from "How to Take Customers Away from your Competition" by Bob Janet
Most products have related items you can sell along with them that make you extra profits. They are called add-ons because salespeople try to sell them after the products are sold. Most salespeople fail to sell add-ons because it is very difficult to sell the related items after you have closed the sale. The customer is no longer in the mind-set to continue buying. You will sell more add-on items if you stop thinking of them as add-ons after the sale. It is much easier to sell related items during the sale than to get the customer to spend more money after they have purchased the main item.
from "How to Take Customers Away from your Competition" by Bob Janet
The Add-On Selling Close is started at the very beginning of the sale and used throughout the sale. The prospect comes to see you, or you go to see him/her, and the first thing you do is pull out a sales order sheet and write the date on it. Every time you talk about your product/service and you have an add-on item or service to sell with it, you write it down along with the product/service you are selling.
For decades the most important words in marketing have been:
Now, I am the first one to be aggressive and try new and different marketing and sales techniques to gain new customers, retain present profitable customers and to increase my profits. But when I find something that works, I will use it over and over again - and, of course, make changes to make it work better.