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Lessons to Learn from Selling in a Weak Economy

In Greater Boston, if you are in the AEC/Development world, times are good. Look around – cranes everywhere, hard-hats bustling around, and generally speaking there is more work and building projects than there are people to build them. As another data point, the DOW is near 28,000 which is a new all-time high.

Life is good. Sales, business development, and lead generation are all business aspects that are just rolling along at a steady and strong clip.  No major issues.

The problem herein is that for the past several years we have had a strong economy, and even the best salespeople can become complacent and fall into some bad habits. Some salespeople become glorified order takers, or order processors. And perhaps that is working enough to attain the forecast or the quota.

But what happens when our economy and development start to soften?  It is times like these when it is wise to revamp our sales protocols and behaviors- and base our efforts on what we will fall back upon if sales and business development get tougher.

I recently found this article from, from Geoffrey James, which includes some excellent general sales and marketing advice. We should not forget the following:

  1. Don’t Focus on Your Fear

You may be worried about the economy, your job, and everything else, but you can’t let those worries rule your thoughts and actions. Source: Omar Periu.

  1. Go on the Offensive

This isn’t the time to hunker down. If you get on the defensive, you’re dead. Instead, get more aggressive and set more aggressive goals. Use multiple points of customer contact… to create new opportunities. Source: Gerhard Gschwandtner

  1. Create New Pricing Options

Work with your finance team to create alternative financing plans, delayed payments, subscription fees, discounts, and other new and innovative ways to lower the risk of purchase. Source: Gerhard Gschwandtner

  1. Re-prioritize Your Opportunities

A challenging economy tends to shake up the business landscape. A company that even recently looked like a hot prospect might be a loser today–and vice versa–so run through your list of opportunities and prioritize them based upon their likelihood to buy now. Source: Linda Richardson

  1. Network, Network, Network

Pick up the phone, call your best customers, and ask them to refer you to one or two people in their own business network. Beyond that, attend a minimum of one face-to-face networking event (like a seminar, conference, or meet-and-greet) every week. Source: Joanne Black

  1. Stick to Your Sales Process

Set up an ambitious schedule of working through the steps of your sales process. The regularity of making your 20 cold calls, or 10 referral calls, every day, creates a sense of accomplishment.  Source: Julie Thomas

  1. Decide to Enjoy Yourself

Your challenge is to keep enjoying yourself and your job, even when times are tough. If you’ve got the emotional moxie to stay positive when everyone else is kvetching about the bad economy, this could be one of the most successful periods of your entire career. Source: Omar Periu.

Process, determination, attitude, creativity, and critical thinking.  These traits are ALWAYS part of a good salesperson’s arsenal- in good times, and bad.

Ken Lambert


Ken is a Director of Industry Development and Technical Services at the International Masonry Institute. Some of his writings have been featured in ARCHITECT magazine,, and for U.S. Building News. He can be reached at

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