I’m not a prognosticator, but I have a feeling salespeople will be talking about the recession that began in the year 2008 for a long time.  

Times were tough and sales were too.  It wasn’t like the good old days when all you needed was more time to write sales orders.  

When I was very young, I remember my grandfather talking about the great depression.  I was obviously too young to understand much of what he was talking about, but I did have a sense of the struggles he went through to support his family.  When I would complain about toys or things I wanted as a child, my father would often mention the things he went without when he was young during those great depression years.  That was a time twenty-five years after the stock market crash and it was still a topic of discussion.  Guess what?  Eighty-eight years later we are still talking about it.  

People discuss the great depression and ponder the depth and breadth of the most recent economic recession in reference to all that is bad and uncomfortable.  However, let your competitors worry about it while you do something about it.  Don’t become paralyzed based on the negative aspects of the most recent market; become energized by all that still remains positive.  Several years ago I read a poem about a little red rooster and an old black hen that explains the recessionary market we have most recently survived, while explaining the attitude and approach we should take.  The poem is titled, Now Let’s All Get Down To Work.

Said the Little Red Rooster, “Believe me, things are tough,

Seems that worms are scarcer and I can’t find enough;

What’s become of all those fat ones is a mystery to me;

There were thousands through that rainy spell, but now where can they be?”

 

Then the Old Black Hen who heard him, didn’t grumble or complain—

She had gone through lots of dry spells, she had lived through floods and rain.

So she flew up on the grindstone, and she gave her claws a whet,

As she said, “I’ve never seen the time when there weren’t worms to get.”

 

She picked a new and undug spot; the earth was hard and firm.

The Little Rooster jeered, “New Ground! That’s no place for worms.”

The Old Black Hen just spread her feet—she dug both fast and free.

“I must go to the worms,” she said, “The worms won’t come to me.”

 

The Rooster vainly spent his day through habit, by the ways

Where fat round worms had passed in squads, back in the rainy days.

When nightfall found him supper less, he growled in accents rough,

“I’m hungry as a fowl can be.  Conditions sure are tough.”

 

He turned then to the Old Black Hen, and said, “It’s worse with you.

For you’re not only hungry, but must be tired, too.

I rested while I watched for worms, so I feel fairly perk

But how are you, without worms too, and after all that work?”

 

The Old Black Hen hopped to her perch and dropped her eyes to sleep,

And murmured in a drowsy tone, “Young man, hear this and weep,

I’m full of worms and happy, for I’ve eaten like a pig. The worms were there as always—but boy, I had to dig!”

 

Here are ten solid principles and ideas that salespeople can apply to increase their sales in today’s market.

  1. Change your thinking.  Believe that your sales can increase more than in the past.

  2. Work harder than you have ever worked before.  A recovering market takes as much sales effort as a declining market to achieve success.

  3. Put in the time.  Plan and schedule a full eight-hour sales day.  That means eight hours finding and developing sales opportunities.

  4. Set very specific daily, weekly and monthly goals with activities directly focused on achieving those goals.

  5. Define your sales process and focus only on those activities that will generate sales.  You don’t have time to do “stuff”.

  6. Do not err in believing you are getting one hundred percent of your current customers business.  Make contacts at all levels and within all departments, groups, and subsidiaries to be certain you are not leaving anything for your competitors.

  7. Make a habit of telling everyone you meet what you do for a living.  If they need your product or service then sell them.  If they don’t, then ask for their help in introducing you to those who may need your products.

  8. Contact every company or individual who has purchased from your company in the past ten years.

  9. Ask every current customer for leads and referrals.  Define for them precisely what you are looking for in a lead or referral.  Everyone knows someone; don’t take “no” for an answer.

  10. Review your performance and success daily and recommit yourself each day to following your plan, regardless of how difficult it may be.  Remember, a growing market does not guarantee success; only your personal effort and positive attitude will deliver prosperity.