2009 was an interesting year for many businesses.  It was also an interesting year for many salespeople!  Some have ‘made it through’, some have soared, some are without jobs as we head in 2010 and most everyone is working harder than ever to maintain.  In trying times, the lessons we learn can serve us well in the future.

Some of what was hard these last 18 months was that many professionals had not experienced this type of economic stall.  They didn’t know what to do.  So, as the year ends I put together the top 5 Sales Lessons we can take away from 2009.

  1. Rules have changed.  Sales cycles are longer, the need to know your business, not just your products is key,
  2. ‘Winging it’ grounds you.  If you need to soar to succeed, lack of preparation or ‘winging it’ weighs you down.  Preparing to make the most out of every contact is what makes the difference between long-term success and possibly being out on the street.  Use the Internet and relationships to find information on the person, the company, the industry that you are calling on will make a huge difference in your sales conversations.
  3. Performance  (something about .    Many companies cut people. With few exceptions, they cut under performers or people that didn’t fit.
  4. Nurturing is necessary.  Staying top of mind with your prospects or customers was key in 2009.  They might not have had the budget or been on hold for a large part of the year.  And as they start surfacing again looking at 2010, they will go with the people that have kept in touch and tried to provide some value this year.
  5. Creativity and flexibility mattermore than ever.  Creativity in approach, in how to give value, in other uses for your product or service, in gaining leads, are needed.  Flexing the way you’ve always done something could have been the difference between a sale or a stall.

lightbulbLearning these lessons and defining a plan for capitalizing on them for 2010 is necessary.  What can you do? A few things:

  1. Find a winner (or two).  Who has succeeded this year?  Ask them how they did it. Determine what you can replicate in your business.
  2. Process and prepare.  What type of process works best with your customers and prospects now?  What are all the touchpoints, the objectives, the information you need to learn and to share?  Lay out the process and then prepare for each visit.
  3. Perform!  No excuses.  Make the time, take the actions, get the training you need.  Companies more than ever will pay for performance.  If you don’t have the results, your earnings will take a hit.
  4. Stay top of mind.  Drip marketing is huge these days.  Identifying the right tools and ‘touches’ to communicate and keep yourself, company and solutions in front of people -even if they aren’t buying now – will continue to differentiate you and position you to be “the” first call when the time is right.
  5. Measure and evaluate what you are doing and the results you achieve.  Numbers will tell the story if they are regularly looked at.  Then you can constantly tweak and refine HOW you operate.

Each of these alone will help capture more sales in 2010.  Focusing on all of them will provide you a foundation for more sales in 2011 and beyond, no matter what the economy.

What do you think?  What lesson did you learn in 2009?  What are you going to do about it in 2010?

–     –     –     –     –     –     –     –

And if you wouldn’t mind voting one more time for me at Top 10 Sales Articles. Voting ends on Monday for the Top Sales Article of the Year!  I’d like a good showing – the article, Sign of a True Sales Pro has now been read by over 3500 people in the last 6 months – the message also contains another sales lesson.   

TSE YE banneer vote