One of the biggest difficulties I have with recessions is that the bad news it generates tends to become like junk food: we know it’s bad for us and yet we eat it up anyways. It is far too easy to get caught up in who is on the losing end of things in a tough market, even though—and let’s face it—that’s what tends to sell in the news business these days.
Too often what’s overlooked is that there are great success stories out there being written today by companies who see this economy the way I do—as a golden opportunity to grow and prosper. That’s why I encourage everyone to dig a little deeper and find out who is succeeding in the marketplace, because there are some great lessons to be learned from them. I’ll start with two recent examples.
In 2009, the Ford Motor Company took a chance and launched an aggressive marketing campaign—at a time when many competitors were in retreat. As a result, they recently reported that they are now one of the first major manufacturers selling cars in the United States to report a monthly sales increase this year. Those efforts are being noticed elsewhere, too. Advertising Age, a leading publication in the marketing industry, credits Ford for taking the risk, saying that the company, among a very select group, have “managed to improve consumer perceptions despite major issues in their respective categories.”
Here’s another fresh example. Apple is known for building great-looking, innovative products and it’s no secret that they are perceived by some as being uncompromisingly pricey. Despite the economy, despite an array of cheap alternatives in the marketplace, and even in spite of a campaign by a competitor that emphasizes that price difference, Apple sales are up. Way up. In July 2009, they posted the best non-holiday quarter in the company’s history.
These examples are the newest in a long line of success stories to emerge in similar economic times that we’re facing today. Hewlett Package was founded during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Networking giant Cisco Systems received its first round of financing and moved from a garage to an office space in 1987—another tough year for the markets. During the recession in the early 1990s, Wal-Mart expanded its number of stores, opening new ones in Mexico…and they seemed to have managed rather well in subsequent years.
All these examples—both classics and new—illustrate how it’s important to not let yourself be captive to market conditions at any given time. See what’s in front of you as a challenge, and recognize the opportunities that come knocking in this new economy are different from before. CEO coach Tony Jeary said it best in his guest column featured in Zig Ziglar’s recent newsletter: “Opportunity in good times assumes the continuation of the normal and capitalizes on things remaining normal. In bad times, opportunity comes by abandoning things that no longer work and finding new things that will work, based on new needs.”
Challenge the assumptions that so many others are making about today’s market and what that means for your bottom line. It’s not that people aren’t buying anymore. Their priorities may be different, and as I have pointed out in a previous article, the decision-making and buying process can be longer. However, your customers are still out there, and demand remains unabated for great products—things that make their lives easier, more enriching or more productive. Just as important, the need for professional sales support—people who connect with other with empathy and persistence—that’s an opportunity that never goes out of style.
Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions (www.EngageSelling.com). Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.
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