5 ways to successfully sell in difficult economic times

“The problem is the economy.” “The economy is bad; that’s why we can’t sell.” “Buyers aren’t biting because they have no money.” Hmm! Is the problem the economy or you? Are you doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results? If so, you may want to shift from such insanity and change how you sell to reflect vitu kwa ground (how things are).  But first, what do I mean by difficult economic times? I mean a constrained economy; one in which resources are limited and consumer spending may be cautious; as such selling can become a challenging task. Looking at business owners and salespeople, here are five ways how you can overcome the challenge and successfully sell in difficult economic times.

Put things into perspective

To begin with, always remember that in tough economic times, the business or person you are selling to still needs to function. This constrained economy is a phase they are going through and it’ll pass. Just as COVID did. Only, it’s not as bad as its only financial, not both financial and medical. So yes, they still need to buy products and services. But with limited resources, they may be picky about what to buy, when and how much of it.  So, try and be objective about the issue; put things into perspective lest you get overwhelmed in the notion that it’s ALL doom and gloom. As they say, even a dead clock is right twice every day.

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Don’t believe the hype

Indeed, being aware about that clock ensures that you do not lead your sale with desperation. There’s always the outlier who’s making money in an economic downturn.  For example, during the pandemic, as private schools shut down, falling like dominoes one didn’t. Brookehouse School encouraged parents that had sued it for not reducing school fees for online learning, to feel free and seek cheaper options elsewhere. So, in good times and in bad, always seek first to understand the buyer, before assuming they are struggling because you, and everyone you know, are.

Here’s more proof. “The Central Bank Governor is seeking to get rich Kenyans who are holding over Sh1 trillion in dollars to release them in fresh efforts to ease pressure on the Kenya Shilling.” (Business Daily). That’s one-third of Kenya’s budget in the hands of a few Kenyans! Crudely put, don’t say ‘there’s no money’, say, ‘You don’t have money.’  So what to do? In challenging economic times, it can be beneficial to focus on niche markets that have specific needs or are less affected by the economic constraints. By targeting a niche, you can tailor your offering to their unique requirements and position yourself as an expert in that area. Niche markets often provide opportunities for higher margins and more loyal customers. Limited editions (like Isuzu’s only 159 units of “Eliud Kipchoge 1:59 D-Max) and other exclusive offers are an example of such.

ways to sell in difficult economic times

Adapt pricing and payment options to sell in difficult economic times

Budget constraints on the buyer’s part should imply price sensitivity, and therefore flexibility, on yours. So, without acquiescing to them, do not be too rigid about not offering discounts either. In fact, for a business owner proactively revise your profit margins, customize your offering and share this with your customer facing team. “You are at liberty to give up to x% discount, with y payment options, if the business volume is z. You will notice this is way below what we are accustomed to giving, and we’ve added 3 months to the payment options. This is because we need to be sensitive to the economic situation and show empathy to the buyer. (And ensure survivability of our business). But even with this discount don’t lead the pitch with it. Don’t be too quick to acquiesce to requests for discounts.

Show value to successfully sell in a constrained economy

Now, more than ever, focus on value as another way to sell in difficult economic times. Purchasing from you could easily have become a routine exercise.  In a constrained economy, customers are more cautious about their spending decisions and therefore critical about their purchases. “Do I really need to continue incurring this check-off deduction for life insurance on my pay slip, when I’m struggling to make ends meet? Between guaranteed hunger now and a possible death then, if it comes to it, let me die on a full stomach.”  

With this buyer mindset, it becomes essential to remind or demonstrate the value that your product or service offers. Highlight how your offering can solve their pain points, improve efficiency, reduce costs, or generate revenue. By emphasizing the value proposition, you can differentiate yourself from competitors and convince customers of the long-term benefits. You can do this by providing clear practical examples, case studies, or even testimonials.

Addressing felt needs sells. Always

Sell what they need without necessarily diversifying from what you do (your core business). For instance, the need for training services could be down, but that of recruitment up. And because these services fall in the same human resource realm, you may find it prudent to increase your product offering.

Or, you could do something completely different, but in demand. For instance, a client told me an interesting story recently. He’s a civil servant and working from home 3 days in a week during the pandemic he decided to do something with the extra time. The something was farming. And so, he planted a whooping 10,000 avocado seedlings on his farm in Murang’a.  Everybody and their mother that saw him work the farm discouraged him. “Who will you sell to at this time? Unless, you have a tender with the county government all this will be a loss. People don’t have money to spend in this ‘Corona-economy’.” Undeterred, he continued and started marketing online. Long story short he was getting calls from all over the country. “As far as Bomet and other places I’d never even heard off. All 10,000 seedlings were bought. Even I was surprised”

Successfully sell in in difficult economic times

In conclusion, selling in a constrained economy requires a proactive approach, adaptability, empathy, and a focus on delivering value to customers. By understanding the economic landscape, targeting niche markets, building strong relationships, and adapting pricing and payment options, you can navigate the challenges and achieve sales success even in challenging economic conditions. Remember that in every constraint lies an opportunity for innovation and creativity, so stay resilient and focused on your goals.


You may also like t read: How to sell in uncertainty


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