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December 13, 2008

4 sales trends for 2009

As we close out 2008 and look forward to what seems to be a growing disaster on the horizon, I thought it might be a good time to look at some of the trends for sales over the next year.

I originally wrote about 11 here, but in order to try to make this easier to read and not to repetitive I have paired them back to just four. And I think they are the big issues of 2009.

1. Refocusing on value

Only in a few sectors such as government, defense and maybe sectors of the utilities industries is there still such as thing as discretionary spending. Most other senior execs will reduced or no discretionary spending power.

This means that approvals may take time, and definitely that clients will be more focused on value.

When you pitch you need to be very careful. Are they facing cutbacks on demand? Then your focus is probably not best placed on revenues. Cost reduction, efficiency improvement and leverage of existing assets are the themes of 2009.

BUT...differentiate yourself. Everyone in the world is going to be running around selling cost reduction strategies. You need to be offering something markedly different. Something like cost effectiveness, how to increase efficiency by reducing waste. Energy reduction as a means of being a good corporate citizen and as a means of reducing spending.

I don't know, but you probably do. Something that sets you apart.

2. Target recession proof sectors

All governments, when they hit a crisis, go for infrastructure spending. So roads, bridges, CAPEX efficiency, utilities in some countries, and defense are all safe bets.

Self development and motivational speaking flourishes when things are at its worst. Bundle up your experiences, sift through them for what really, really works - and parcel them out in a number of ways.

Entertainment is always good in a downturn as people look away from their problems and into thing slike movies, CD's and even blogs.

3. Marketing owns the web

Your site, your blogs, your web presence is about to get more important than ever.

2009 was a turning point. Fueled by Twitter, Facebook and the surging LinkedIn we see more and more marketing done via the internet as this also start to fill with "noise" and clutter.

Tap into it. Run regular teleconferences, make sure your LinkedIn profile talks about you the person, and you the wide ranging professional. Far beyond any CV type stuff. Make sure you regularly update your experiences and profile to take into account your latest moves, and make sure that you collect recommendations.

People are searching the web for what they want, or they are getting it from referrals. You must be referred!
(Our newsletter is currently running a three part series on Trust Based Marketing)

4. Solve don't sell

The whole "solutions thing got old so quickly it turned into another way to push your product as the cure for everything from pattern male baldness to reduced revenues.

The sales process, and the sales case if you like, is starting to get harder. To sell you need to involve consulting, and not just in a token effort to tick a few boxes.

In fact, as Bill Caskey  said in our interview with him, consultants are the uniquely positioned to sell. Clients need to speak to people who understand their issues, and who can draw on years of scarce experience (combined with scarce abilities) to provide rock solid solutions to their problems.

To quote Zig Ziglar, people don't buy from people they like they buy from people they trust.

5 (of 4) Additional value by surprise will be appreciated

Always give a little bit more. Whether it is in the professionalism of your training manuals, the detailed manner with which the handouts are bound, the additional value report or an unsolicited report on what the best are doing.

Always, always give more over deliver.