Let’s face it. We’re being pummeled with bad news about the economy from all media outlets. It makes for a difficult sales environment. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy at some point. Keep telling people over and over that it’s bad enough and eventually it is. Not to diminish the economic challenges we are facing, but with bad news there is also opportunity if you have a solution that truly can help your customers improve their efficiency and positively impact the bottom line.

Every business needs to look at operational efficiency, and even more so in tough economic times – but it is often put on the back burner due to just trying to stay on top of day-to-day projects. In order to stay competitive as the business climate changes managers need to make sure that all available resources are operating at peak efficiency.

When selling into this environment you need to sit down with your prospective customers and identify areas where they may be losing productivity – in other words, money. Ask them what keeps them up at night and you will most likely get your opening for whether or not your product can help them.

In tough economic times it’s the product or solution that helps companies increase revenue or reduce their time and costs that does well. It is the job of the sales person to help the customer identify their specifc problem areas and how their product or solution addresses them.

For example, our software helps our customers in two critical areas – top line revenue and bottom line costs. But just because we can help them in both areas does not guarantee that we will get the sale. We as sales people need to directly relate the value we bring to their specific needs – whether the customer is having trouble competing to get projects (in which case we can help them generate professional, accurate sales proposals and system designs – positively affecting top line revenue), or if they are losing money per project (we can help them better track labor costs, resources, and overall aspects of a project – helping them reduce their time and costs).

If you can show the customer that your product or solution can help them solve their specific problem then you can overcome one of the biggest objections or obsticals to a sale – price. When someone is looking to solve a problem price should become a non-factor when compared to the value of the solution. If you can point to a positive ROI and show the customer a better way to manage their everyday processes, then you have demonstrated the value of your solution and negotiations have just turned in your favor. Price should become a non-issue because you have shown that there is a tangible cost for not making a decision.

If your solution has tangible business value it is the job of the sales professional to demonstrate that value to the customer, and in tightening economic conditions can become the perfect opportunity for a win-win. If you can help solve the customer’s problem you are positively impacting his business while taking care of yours.

 An excellent example of this is found here in Adam’s post regarding his new HVAC system.