Some CEOs of small and midsize companies have figured out how to push their people — and their companies — through tough times.
- Concentrate on the basics. Your single most important job is to get and keep customers. The only way of doing this is to help your customers solve their problems better than anyone else. Don’t assume you have the answers. Learn what each customer means by “better.” Then, adapt your product or service so that it’s perceived as “better” in the eyes of your customers.
- Become more aggressive. Change your marketing strategy to fit the psychology of the times. Emphasize how your products or services save time, cut costs, and increase productivity.
- Work at retaining present customers. Even if customers are spending less, don’t let them be tempted to take their business elsewhere.
- Build your prospect list. Develop what we like to call a “druthers” list. If you had your druthers, what prospects would you like to add to your customer base right now? Have salespeople make regular contact with these companies. Explain why you have a special interest in them. Show how dealing with you has special benefits for them. Make your goal clear: Ask what you will have to do to get their business.
- Keep a watchful eye on the competition. Don’t assume your competitors are sleeping. They may be making moves which could cut into your customer base. More than ever it’s important to scout the competition.
- Practice niche marketing. Look for those markets which best match your company’s products and service — and come out swinging! Strive to become the big fish in a small pond. Chances are competition is less intense in these markets and your strong position will fend off unwanted intruders. As you successfully serve new customers, you have a good chance of becoming a preferred supplier.
- Concentrate on consulting. Remember, customers aren’t looking for off-the-shelf solutions to their problems. Tailor your services to meet precise needs. This means taking more time to be helpful, understanding and supportive of your customers.
- Use the magic word, “sure.” Since we’re all in the problem-solving business, respond to requests with a strong “sure.” You may not have all the answers at the moment. That’s not important. You can get them later. When you’re talking to the customer, convey confidence and be 100% positive. It will get you more and more business.