With all that is happening in the news lately, a global recession is a distinct possibility. The coronavirus outbreak has forced a multitude of business interruptions which are certain to have an impact on our economy. It’s too soon to predict the severity or the timing of this, but it is possible to begin preparations to help minimize the effects of an economic downturn. You may not be able to change the market, but as an electrical distribution salesperson, you can change the way you approach your role. Here are a few areas to focus on to maintain performance in less than ideal business conditions:
Are you completely focused on sales? How much time are you spending following up on quotes, managing suppliers, or dealing with unhappy customers? Remove all obstacles to selling, including service issues and poor product delivery. Stay in front of customers, uncover their needs, and close business! Partner with others on your team to facilitate customer success and keep customers happy. Be proactive with your best customers and work to uncover future needs that they’ll be depending on you for.
Make sure you’re selling value and help customers see the positive impact that you bring. When companies begin cutting back, they’ll trim what doesn’t provide value. When budgets cuts happen, only essentials and the things that routinely increase revenue or decrease costs are spared. Anything that you or your electrical distributor does to reduce costs or make things easier for your customer should be quantified and brought to their attention. Providing value can help electrical distributors avoid the “race to the bottom” (kneejerk margin decreases that hurt your bottom line). There’s a wide variety of simple actions that can be executed to benefit customers and mitigate the demand for price concessions. Things like free delivery, delayed payment terms, buyback programs for leftover materials, custom wire cuts, and product setup prior to shipping can make things easier for contractors and add measurable value to your project bid.
Ask for Referrals
If your relationships are solid, your customers are getting great results, and they depend on you to help them succeed, they should be your biggest advocates. In many cases, project managers, electrical contractors, integrators and end users are a close-knit group. Now more than ever, you need to get in the habit of asking for referrals. The people that you sell to tend to have a higher level of trust in each other than they do in someone cold calling them. Leverage the good contacts you have, the good work you’ve done, and the good will that you’ve created to get referrals that help expand your sales footprint.
Having a process and systems that support sales efforts help to manage your day-to-day business and improve sales outcomes. Take a good look at the processes that you use and refine them if it makes sense to do so. Maintain a solid plan to prioritize sales activities and ensure that any refinements that are deployed have a positive impact on your results. On a regular basis, take time to review processes with sales leadership and determine where improvements can be made. Anything that can be done to make things more efficient for you and improve upon the customers’ experience should be considered.
Deliver Outstanding Customer Service
Providing customer service isn’t enough anymore. Outstanding customer service is the baseline! Going the extra mile for customers is what builds lasting relationships that weather recessions. Stay in communication to make sure that your customers are getting what they need. Electrical products can be complex. Providing training and support on new products is an added value that customers will appreciate. Focus on investing your time in the things that keep customers coming back for more! Retaining a good customer and ensuring their satisfaction is much easier than going out and finding new sales targets in a down market.
Avoiding the negative impacts that a potential recession can bring can be a challenge. By implementing some of the suggestions above, you and your electrical distributor can help mitigate the effects that an economic downturn might bring. Even in a healthy economy, these best practices will help improve your sales results and increase customer satisfaction.
We’d love to hear from you on what you do to maintain momentum when it gets challenging out there! Let us know