No matter what business you’re in or what product you’re selling, downturns happen, so today we’re talking about how to prepare your sales pipeline for economic downturn.
We’re here at the Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council’s ROAR Conference, which is connecting minority-owned and women-owned businesses with Fortune 100 companies.
Joel Burstein says that companies should be most aware of economic downturn when the economy is good. The downturns in ’01 and ’08 were preceded by markets that were really, but they grew so quickly that they weren’t sustainable.
When things seem too good to be true, they usually are.
Consider the internet
At one point, everything was successful. It didn’t matter what the product was. The reality of the world at that time was that 22-year-olds owned five properties.
If you drive your car as fast as you can for as long as you can, your car will eventually break. The economy is the same.
The time to prepare for the economic downturn is when the economy is good. You do that by diversifying your clientele and diversifying your business.
Clients who are looking are still engaged. You don’t necessarily have to take your foot off the gas; you just have to think outside the box.
Talk to clients
Ask your clients how their world is going. They will have indicators, so if you ask them what signs they are seeing, they may be able to share signs with you.
Realize, too, that not everyone’s downturn is equal. Some people’s downturn started in ’07 while others started in ’08. What happened is that we missed it.
Your perspective depends on where your market falls. Some people are struggling today. It isn’t that they’re struggling tremendously, but their business is down.
Perhaps it only lasts one quarter, or maybe it stretches into two or three quarters. Once that happens, it begins to have an impact.
Have engaging conversations with your existing clients about what’s happening in their markets. Because their markets are different than yours, you’ll gain insight into the overall economy.
Imagine an entrepreneur with a digital marketing company who has decent-sized clients. If she stays in touch with them she can accomplish two things:
- She can do some reconnaissance work.
- She can deepen her relationships.
At some point, you sell without selling. You have to be in the relationship mindset rather than the selling mindset.
You’ll develop a deep understanding of what your client is facing and struggling with. Your client will remember you as the one who cared about how they were handling the downturn.
Preparing for downturn
Certain industries will survive recession better than others. Energy is a great example.
Oil is another industry that survives recession well, as evidenced by the Texas economy while the rest of the country was in a downturn. People still need oil, and we forget that it’s used to make milk cartons. It’s also used for the oil and gears of manufacturing machinery.
When the economy shifts, you need to have a great network of people you can reach out to for different things at different times. If I don’t know people, I can’t do that.
Networking is a big thing. Speaking engagements are, too.
In our case, we can’t always orchestrate large training opportunities but we can convince people to sign up for workshops or boot camps. It allows us to build our brand, stay connected to our customers, and it offers additional streams of income.
Joel said he leverages his LinkedIn so that his existing contacts can introduce him to people he doesn’t know. People typically don’t leverage it properly, but what if you knew all the same people your clients do?
“Prepare For Economic Downturn” episode resources
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