Selling – what’s changed for 2012?

The uncertainty and excitement of a new year ahead - what will it hold for each of us, our business, our families and friends, our lives and, I guess, the world in general – who knows?


As we set goals, targets and objectives, and start, finish or ignore writing and re-writing our sales plans for the year, one thing’s for certain, it won’t be the same as 2011. No year ever is and that’s the exciting bit. To quote the inspirational Mr Casper Berry: “It is only because today is uncertain that tomorrow has any meaning at all”. (Check out his inspirational video, here)


So if we absolutely know for certain that this year is going to be different, what might that mean for us personally and how will we respond? Will we continue to do what we’ve always done and get frustrated at diminishing returns or will we challenge ourselves and our team to think and act differently, whilst all the time ensuring we don’t lose sight of our core beliefs and values or raison d’être?


If we absolutely know this year will be different, what might that mean in relation to our customers and prospects and how they will act, respond and buy; how they choose to be informed, who they will listen to, where they might hang out and choose to network and what new and different products or services might they be seeking at what prices and Ts & Cs?


Perhaps they might want to change their buying habits and buy from different people in different ways – representing interesting threats or opportunities depending on whether you’re currently in favour or out. They may be more or less risk averse; they may have more or less decision making capability; they may have smaller or larger budgets; they may be boldly considering embarking on some exciting new business or personal journey; or they may indeed be quaking in their boots and terrified that they may not be able to cope with 2012 or, indeed, be around in 2013. What does this mean for you and how might you need to adjust, tweak or refresh your sales and marketing tactics going forward? How will you best support, nurture and challenge your customers and ensure you’re both around in 2013 and beyond?


If we know this year will be different, what might that mean in relation to our competitors? What will they be thinking and planning, how will they be acting and reacting? Will they be stronger or weaker; more or less aggressive in our markets; winning or losing customers – yours or theirs? Who will be the winners and who will be the losers? Because one thing’s for certain, there will be plenty of both. There always are.


Lots of questions and very few answers because nobody knows for certain, so why worry and waste time trying to get it absolutely right, trying to find the perfect formula when there isn’t one? And, just when you think you’ve found it, something will change - something beyond your control. So yes, plan and plan well but don’t procrastinate for too long. The time to act is now.


Here are my SEVEN key rules of engagement during times of great uncertainty:


• Be and stay alert – seek to notice what’s truly important and what’s not (what serves merely to distract); assume nothing and avoid complacency. You cannot do this well when you are too tired, too busy or too distracted.


• Be willing to be flexible and adaptable – responsiveness to real need and out of the box thinking and solutions are required. You cannot offer this when you or your team are too self-adsorbed, self-focused or stuck in old ways and habits.


• Challenge the conventional norms and “how we’ve always done it.” Think - what IF there was another way? What would that be and how would that look?


• Get back in touch with your natural intuition and emotional IQ. You cannot afford to ignore your instincts (you may need to throw away the rule book – there are no rules!)


• Seek real connection with your marketplace (your customers, your staff, your peers and your associates). You are only doing this superficially if you’re not investing time in asking, listening and then listening some more.


• Stay or get fit – mentally and physically. Train your mind, and your body. Make sure you’re fit for purpose and for the challenges ahead. “Sharpen the saw!” It’s truly a case of survival of the fittest.


• Keep good company – choose wisely those who will help influence, motivate, inspire, build, create, nurture and love. Avoid or minimise the impact of those who choose to knock, deflate, contaminate, fester, drain and pain you and others.


So what could all this mean for you and your approach to selling and sales in 2012? What attitudes, behaviours, tactics and skills remain valid and what might you need to change, if anything? Well, I guess this depends on how sales and customer focused you already are and how much further you’re willing to go…


To be continued…


For now, challenge yourself to consider what you might need to change in your sales mix for 2012, in order to be better poised to capitalise on the exciting times ahead.

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