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Recession Selling – making the best out of the worst (or the very bad)

It is no surprise that trying to sell in a tough market is one heck of a challenge.  Here are some suggestions for surviving during a tough selling period.

Written Jul 07, 2008, read 1879 times since then.


It is no surprise that trying to sell in a tough market is one heck of a challenge.  Think of the opposite – just how easy it was to sell when everything was going great.  Companies buy to either (a) drive revenue or (b) cut costs.  Y2K, Sarbanes Oxley, SEC and HIPPA compliance are long gone (unless you are one of the lucky ones) so forcing a company to spend money to get into compliance isn’t an option for most of us.

In sports, it is common for one team to be struggling against a far better or more prepared opponent.  Yet somehow, time and time again the underdog emerges victorious.  Something happened during the game to allow the seemingly defeated to emerge victorious.  Perhaps there is something there for us to learn and emulate.

Here are some suggestions for surviving during a tough selling period:

  1. Pull the goalie or go for the goal.  In a hockey game it is common for the coach to pull the goalie and replace the goalie with another offensive player in the hopes of getting a goal in the final seconds.  Pull out all the stops and go for that “big” account you’ve been talking about.  Think huge (bigger than big) and try to get a piece of business that never in your wildest dreams you ever thought you would get.

  2. Full court press.  Spend as much time as possible on site <s></s>with your client.  Participate (for free) at creative meetings or strategy sessions.  Take people out to lunch.  Learn as much as possible about where your client is headed to and weave your way into those projects.

  3. Switch pitchers.  The market isn’t going to change overnight so whatever you are doing today needs to change accordingly.  Try a whole new approach to your service or offering.

  4. Go for the interception.  What similar service is your target buying from someone else?  Why not focus on stealing that piece of the business from one of your competitors.  All is fair in love and war.  There is only a finite of business that your client will transact so why not shift some money your way.  You may need to discount it highly but squeezing more money out of the same client is far easier than landing a new one.  If you aren't trying to steal more business from your competitor rest assured, they are trying to steal it from you.

  5. A walk is as good as hit.  Not everything you do needs to be a homerun.  Just try to make a sale no matter how small with a new client.  Think about what you could offer a client that is easy to buy – keeping it very simple.  Filling your plate up with singles is much better than having no one on base.

While we all hope that the market turns around soon, we are all in this for the long haul and having the stamina and fortitude to make it through the storm successfully will make you feel like a winner.

Let me know if you have any additional ideas for selling in a recession or a down market.


Learn more about the author, Evan Sohn.

Comment on this article

  • Copywriter 
Everett, Washington 
Brendan McCrain
    Posted by Brendan McCrain, Everett, Washington | Jan 11, 2011

    Great advice Evan. I'd also recommend adjusting your mindset and searching for marketing opportunities that take advantage of down economies. Businesses still need services and customers are still buying, find a way to make your product/service affordable and show the benefit over the long term. I think this is what you're saying with #3.

    I enjoy your articles and find lots of great advice. Keep it up.