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5 Tips to Successfully Selling in a Down Market - with Alex McNaughton


We recently sat down with Alex McNaughten, CEO and Founder of Strategic Sales Consulting to talk about his latest eBook “Successfully Selling B2B in a Down Market”.

He says “I keep getting asked the question should I still be selling and my response is if you have something that helps people you should be getting in front of them.” Alex gave us his timely top 5 tips to do just that:


1. Acknowledge what is going on?


Alex’s first tip is to acknowledge what is going on.

Given the current market uncertainty (and unprecedented in many entrepreneur’s business journey) its essential to realise how people are feeling. Recognise that we all trying to reduce spending, cut costs, and focus on the essentials. As Alex puts it, we are all asking ourselves how can we make our dollars go further?


2. Take a look at your messaging and change it where needed


This mindset shift means that sales messaging needs to be refined:

  • Focus on the short term: We are all working to get through this market upheaval, so benefits years or even months down the track isn’t going to help. Stop talking about growth and future opportunities - cost reduction, mitigating risk, business continuity, and extending runways is what people want to talk about.

  • Pricing Structure: It might also be time re-evaluate your pricing structure, are there any special offers which you can provide your customers to help them through this time. Alex says “everything should be coming from a helpful place right now”.

  • Nice to have or a must have?: Now is a time to revaluate the language you are using to describe your product or service. Are you focusing on the nice to haves of your offering when you should be focusing on the must haves?


3. Be understanding


Acknowledge that this might not be a good time to be having this conversation. March 2020 is not the same as February 2020 and no one was truly prepared for this. So focus on your clients, ask them what is going on in their world and try and be more empathetic.

It’s also important that you understand this is going to change your relationship with current customers. Deals you thought that were going to sign may now be put on the backburner, green lights may be subject to further evaluation. Alex’s tip here is to be understanding and look for ways to be accommodating (for example, creative payment solutions, or give your client space and reach out in a month or two).

Alex also recommends showing some extra love to your clients, reach out, check in and make sure that you show you care.


4. Make it easy


“A lot of business in New Zealand is done over coffee and lunch”. Make sure that you have easily accessible case studies and references to make up for the in-person connection which has been lost to the lockdown. Alex also makes the point that time is of the essence, you don’t want redlines and legal back and forth to drag the process out, “make it easy to buy from you”.


5. Be positive


Alex acknowledges that this can be hard, and he struggled with getting caught up in the negativity. But he says there are two ways you can deal with it, bury your head in the sand and hope it all works out or look for opportunities and try as much as possible to lead. People are draw to positive and are seeking out hope at the moment “Coronavirus isn’t the only thing that is infectious”. There is no upside to not being positive.

Be innovative, if you have more time on your hands, create content, use the extra time to prospect, how can you do everything you can to grow your business. The alternative to trying is failing and you won’t get through it.


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