Sell In A Recession  (continued)
    If this is a serious recession, learning how to keep on selling
    in a recession will be vital. Sales and Service training could
    well be the key.

    I have worked with many clients who have weathered recessions, grown their businesses through recessions and
    even set up and started successful businesses in recessions. Now is not the time to be panicking. Now is the time
    to be checking your sales activities, sharpening your sales training pencils and applying solid sales principles. Just
    an FYI, every single person in the dealership is a salesperson.

    Here are my top 5 tips for selling in a recession:

    1. Believe You Make a Difference and Stay Positive!

    One of the problems with all of this talk about recession is that once people believe there is going to be a
    recession they start to feel negative about their business prospects. The nature of belief is that people only tend
    to see what they believe rather than believing what they see. Once you believe that there is going to be a
    recession you tend to only notice articles, comments and statistics that support your beliefs.
    What’s more, your negative beliefs quickly affect your outlook and the way that you feel about your business
    prospects. Think about it for a second…
    If you thought 2008 was going to be a great year for business, your best year yet; how would you feel?
    Conversely, if you thought 2008 was going to see a major recession and that it was going to hit you and your
    business hard; how would you feel?

    And remember, nothing’s changed here other than your belief. Having a positive and supportive belief structure is
    essential if you want to succeed in any market but it is vitally essential if you want to keep on selling in a tough one.

    Having a winning belief system does not mean that you need to be deluded however! In the middle of the darkest
    recession you don’t want to have your eyes shut! But you do need to realize that in a recession people want to
    work with the best suppliers. Suppliers that they can rely on. Suppliers that support them. Suppliers who are going
    to be around tomorrow. And if your competitors struggle, that means more sales and more business for you.

    2. Get Proactive

    If this year is going to be tough then you need to be more proactive. Much more
    proactive. You need to do more marketing and more selling. You need to attend more
    events and do more networking. You need to do more promotion and more canvassing.
    Bottom line, you need to increase your sales activities, maybe dramatically.

    In a recession many companies cut their sales activities. They figure, “If we’re not going
    to sell anything, what’s the point?” Many individual salespeople do this too. Perhaps it’s
    not a conscious choice but it’s what they do.

    Touché. Cut your activity, cut your sales. You’re a living, breathing, self-fulfilling prophecy! You believe there is
    not much business out there, so you feel negative. That in turn affects your activity and your activity destroys your
    sales results.

    Even if there is not as much business out there, then you need to be more active, more focused and more
    targeted. If your competitors are easing off a little, now is the time to up the anti and grab your share of the
    market. Even if sales do slow down temporarily, you will be in poll position when things pick up again.
    Talk about killing your own market! If you see less business then you need to do more sales and marketing, not
    less. That’s common sense.

    3. Sharpen Your Sales Pencil

    If a janitor needs a mop, a workman needs a spade and a farmer needs a field;
    a boxer needs a defense and killer left hook, and a Chef needs a recipe; what do
    salespeople need? The answer’s obvious – it’s sales skills and overcoming
    objections during the sales process.

    Unfortunately, most salespeople do not spend enough time working on improving
    their sales skills and techniques. Sales training and development is not something
    that many salespeople spend their time on out of choice. Perhaps they can get
    away with this in a booming market when sales are easy. Perhaps not. But things
    will always change if the market tightens. Sales success will go to the salesperson
    who really understands why people buy and can help people make the right
    business decisions. Salespeople of this caliber stand to benefit from possible
    changes ahead because there will be more business for them as their competition
    falls by the wayside.
    Sales will not go to the journeyman salesperson, the mediocre wannabee or the 9-5 order taker. Salespeople like
    these could well be in for a rough time.

    When did you last read a sales training book on selling? How many sales training audios have you listened to over
    the last month? How many sales training seminars have you attended in the last year? For 80% of salespeople,
    the answer is zero.

    If you’re in the 20% who have invested in yourself… Great, you’re on track. Keep the study up and make sure you
    stay ahead of the game.

    If you’re in the 80% who haven’t… Don’t panic! You still have time. Start now by putting together your own sales
    training and development plan to sharpen your sales skills and hone your sales techniques. Salespeople who can
    sell in any market will always be in demand. Effort now will reward you whatever this year brings.

    4. Improve Your Service and Focus on Relationships

    As I write this many companies will be working out how to cut corners. They will try to
    save money by tinkering with their business offerings. They will try and eek extra profits
    out of their clients by cutting the bells and whistles from their offerings. This is not a
    good idea. A Swiss cow with no bells is just a cow and no-one would send postcards of
    them home!

    If business is tight you want to be wowing your clients with the best service that they
    have ever had, from you or from any of your competitors. You need to be going the
    extra mile. If a recession bites, many companies will try and discount to survive. They
    probably won’t (survive), but you don’t want your clients going to them as they try to
    keep their heads above water! You need to “lock in” your existing clients now so that they won’t even think about
    going anywhere else.

    Spend time with your clients.  Build stronger relationships with your clients. Make sure you truly understand them,
    their concerns and their businesses. Find ways to help them and add value over and above what they could have
    ever expected.

    5. Leverage Your Efforts

    In a soft market many salespeople only chase the easy stuff. They don’t chase the tough stuff. Hey, they’re doing
    alright and they don’t need to. They’re making sales right?


    Most salespeople have all sorts of opportunities which they squander every day and every month because there
    are seemingly easier things that they can be doing. This is particularly true in an industry or a company where
    leads have been relatively easy to come by, where sales targets are relatively soft (I could tell you which industries
    but I’m not going to) or where salespeople are overpaid so don’t crave the business (again, I’ll keep this to

    In a tough market you must leverage all of your efforts. This is basic sales 101 and should be stuff that you do
    every day anyway… Here are just a few ideas.

    Always ask for referrals. Referrals are great business but most salespeople do not ask for them because
    clients often say no. Learn how to ask for a referral properly and then build asking for a referral into your
    sales process and ask for one every time.

    Up-sell and cross-sell. Whether though laziness, lack of knowledge or lack of ability many salespeople sit on
    accounts where there is so much more business than they are currently leveraging. Extending your
    business with existing clients will not only make you more money, it will also strengthen your relationships
    with and value to them and their businesses.

    Contact dormant accounts. Most companies have hundreds if not thousands of “dormant” accounts. There
    may be multiple reasons for this from changing business practices to fall-outs with the client. Dormant
    clients may well be redeemable and may have been “lost” purely because someone forgot to ring them or a
    salesperson moved on. Get in touch with them! I am certain that I have sent something to you in regards to
    Fixed Training, but as usual you think there is a gimmick and there is no way possible that someone will
    travel to your site and perform an evaluation an n/c. That’s ok keep thinking there is a magic pill and all
    your concerns will all go away.

    Follow up on all leads. I recently contacted 5 health insurance companies over the web. Only one replied.
    You should not be burning leads like this in any market. Follow up on all leads professionally using a proven
    sales system like the ones I teach in my sales training seminars and programmes and you will close more
    business. New clients are essential for any business in any market.
Copyright© 2008-2009 Automotive Dealers Network. All rights reserved.
Jim Bernardi has held such positions as; Dealer,
General Manager, Director of Operations, District
Operations Manager, Parts & Service Director, Service
Director, Service Manager, Service Advisor and is
President /CEO AutoPro Training Solutions, a National
Fixed Operations Training Company which guarantees
increased GP or their training fee is free.
Jim Bernardi
Publisher/CEO Automotive Dealers Network
President/CEO AutoPro Training Solutions
and visit
View Jim Bernardi's profile on LinkedIn
Over the past several months there has been a lot of talk of
recession. Wherever you look and whatever you read, we see in
the headlines our New President Promising Change; as well as the
American subprime crisis including the big 3 auto makers crying
for assistance. Talk of a recession seems to be bombarding us
from every possible media.
So there we are; 5 tips to help you to sell in a recession.
    This year may well prove to be an interesting year for some businesses and individuals. Some of this will come
    down to the market itself. Much of it will come down to you and how you react and respond to what might be a
    challenging year.
    Here’s my prediction for 2009....