Moving ahead in this economy.

The economic stresses businesses are facing right now make it seem like the whole world is upside down, that running a business now is different than before. And everyone’s fear is, do we have the skill set to be able to see it through? But it seems to me, and others as I’m finding out (see S.G. Danforth’s blog), that the skills we need are the same tried and true ones we’ve always needed. We just need to pay closer attention to them.

Leadership still requires an ability to set a goal, act with intent consistently over time, and find a clear and direct way to communicate the mission of your organization and how it translates into benefits to the customer. Nothing new. But what may need to be new, is how you accomplish those things.

Creativity plays a big role. Companies need to think differently about how they approach customers, what they say to them, and how they deliver that message. The economy has shifted how customers make decisions and what they prioritize. If you change with them and frame your messages to address their concerns, you can not only maintain your sales rates, but you can often increase them by beating out your competitors who are not addressing their concerns as clearly or directly.

It’s not just a sales ploy, though. Reframing your sales message to make is seem like you’re the affordable choice or the better value is not enough. You have to look at your products and services and see how they really do offer better value and if they don’t, make changes.

I think this is where the hard part might be, though. The human tendency is to believe what you want to believe, to talk yourself into believing something that your customers will not — to think your customers can be “sold”. They can’t. I’m not dismissing sales tactics as witch-doctory or anything, I just mean that few people can really be “sold” in the pure sense. What you offering is either a good fit for them or not. What determines their decision is whether or not your product or service addresses their concern(s).

–Chris

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