Written by Tony Cole, founder and Chief Learning Officer of Anthony Cole Training Group


Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.
—Winston Churchill

If you’ve watched any television in the last three months, you know that advertisers would have us believe these are “difficult times,” “challenging times,” and even “unprecedented times.” And they aren’t entirely wrong. On top of the health crisis our nation is dealing with, we also are experiencing record unemployment numbers, a drop in imports and exports, and volatile stock prices. The economy is in disarray at best.

But if you’re in sales, and you’ve been around the block a time or two, you know that there is always something happening —a down economy, turbulent politics, a health crisis, stiff competition, or unpopular decisions made by your company — that makes selling difficult. Even in the best of times, sales is a tough business! But in the worst of times, you still possess the power to choose your own destiny when it comes to sales success.

Selling in a challenging market

I recently conducted a 30-minute Live Zoom Broadcast entitled, “How to Sell in Any Market.” I shared some thoughts on not just how to make the most of the current business environment, but how sales professionals can thrive in it. The session focused on a few key points, which I want to share with you.

Virtual client meetings

Now is the time to develop strategies that utilize virtual technologies to get in front of your prospects and clients. Whether you opt for Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or some other virtual meeting program, we are fortunate to live in an era where we can be face-to-face yet still be safely separated.

Understanding pain points

Have some extra time on your hands since you aren’t travelling as much? Take this opportunity to really get to know your clients — you should be focused on building relationships, not just on making sales. What are your client’s needs, their fears? What added or different pressures are they facing right now that you can help solve?

Learning the answers to these questions will help move both of your organizations forward. Using the Industry Intelligence found on Vertical IQ, including their special COVID-19 webpage, can help you identify pain points that are likely impacting your client’s industry.

Market share

No one owns a 100 percent share of the market. Let’s say there are 100 opportunities in your area, and your top competitor has locked down 20 percent of the market share. By my count, that leaves an 80 percent share for you to go win — in addition to taking some of the low hanging fruit from that competition. Now is the time to go out and get it!

Old-fashioned phone calls

While technology can make our lives simpler, especially right now, the old technology still works too. Pick up the phone and call someone! We’re all being inundated by emails these days, so you can’t assume your email won’t get deleted along with the dozens of others in your client or prospect’s inbox.

Hone your calling strategy

Now is not the time to be spraying buckshot; you need a targeted calling strategy. I would propose something like this:

  • Get face-to-face — via virtual meeting — with the top 20 percent of your client list.
  • Pick up the phone and call your next 40 percent.
  • Email — or better still, snail mail — the next 20 percent of your client list that you believe has the potential to grow to the top.

This is another place where you can use the Industry Intelligence found on Vertical IQ. Use the Call Prep Questions during your conversation. Incorporate what you learn on the Industry Profile about trends and risks into your email. Print and mail a recent industry article, highlighting some salient points, and jotting a note that you will follow-up by phone to discuss.

Take control of your success

In closing, these may be “difficult,” “challenging,” and “unprecedented” times, but don’t let outside forces be the reason you don’t succeed in sales. You control your own destiny, after all! What you are doing today is either helping you race to the top or race to the bottom — the choice is yours to make.

Sales training expert Tony Cole is the founder and Chief Learning Officer of Anthony Cole Training Group.