Every day we’re hearing about how tough it is out there. Prospects won’t take calls. Budgets are on hold. And yet, I remain optimistic, seeing opportunity all around us. While many clients are halting spending, others are getting creative and looking at their businesses from new perspectives. They are seeking ways to leverage these difficult times and evolve their own companies. They refuse to let the difficult economy stall their growth.

One client I was speaking with the other day said I must be an eternal optimist, refusing to face reality. Maybe. But that same day I had four new contacts call me.

In a recent conversation another client told me that all budgets are frozen for 2009. They wouldn’t be able to proceed with the project we had envisioned. We tabled the project, yet when we got off the phone, we had another appointment set to discuss two top priorities that just can’t wait for the budget.

What’s happening? Am I so different than you are? No! Creating opportunities is all about keeping your name in front of potential customers, listening hard during sales calls, and thinking deeply to make creative suggestions. You can do it, too.

Get Close
While prospecting is discouraging right now, it’s also the time to stay in front of your prospects as if they’re your best buddies. Where it used to take 9 calls to get a call back, you can be sure it’ll take many more. Instead of giving up, plan an attraction campaign. In my opinion the most effective strategy today is a combination of phone calls, emails and simple events to catch prospects’ attention. Focus on hot topics, relevant to their very highest priorities in the new economy. Be there when they recognize a new need they can’t hold off investing in. They’ll call you first.

Keep The Conversation Going
Listen for opportunities in novel areas. Your clients may be holding back purchasing your typical offerings, but in dire need of one of your lesser known solutions. When they tell you all spending has been curtailed, don’t stop the conversation. Keep questioning and conversing. Identify their top priorities for succeeding in this strange market. As they talk, listen for unusual ways you can assist them. Don’t thumb your nose at minor projects. Nothing is too small to get your foot in the door and show the financial return you provide. My philosophy is that small projects add up to big numbers, and I appreciate every one!

Wake Up Your
Life has been pretty good for us sellers over the last few years. We didn’t have to work too hard to uncover our prospects’ needs. They budgeted; we spec’ed; they bought. Maybe there was a bit more work than that, but for the most part, it was definitely easy compared to today. It’s time to wake up your brain and show your clients how you can help them save more, make more, and still grow their businesses. Get creative. Think outside your normal solution box.

I’ve had my fair share of losses just like you’ve probably experienced. But I’m not letting them get me down. Rather, I’m using today’s economic troubles as an opportunity to get creative.

One seller I work with was desperately trying to close a new phone system. The customer couldn’t justify the investment. However, during the conversation he mentioned the extraordinary amount they were spending in marketing and his desire to reduce it. The seller realized the phone system could help track effectiveness of marketing campaigns, allowing his customer to quickly halt poor performing programs. The savings became clear to him, far outweighing the cost of the new phone system. He looked at the seller and said, “This is a no-brainer” – and bought.

We don’t know how long this recession will last. If you are staying in front of prospects, listening hard and presenting creative ideas, you’ll win regardless – and win big when the economy starts to turn again.

Author's Bio: 

Kendra Lee is a top IT Seller, Prospect Attraction Expert and author of the award winning book “Selling Against the Goal” and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment. Ms. Lee is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and association events. To find out more about the author, read her latest articles, or to subscribe to her newsletter visit www.klagroup.com or call +1 303.773.1285.