EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 22, 2009

Yes, it's really happening: Now do something about it

By Jeffrey Gitomer

It's been a long time coming, but change is gonna come, oh yes it will.

— Written and performed by Sam Cooke, 1963

Change is not "in the air." It has hit the ground running, or should I say running rampant.

Breaking news: Have you heard? The economy is down.

It hasn't been this way, this bad or this low for 50 years. Companies are crumbling, and rules are being abandoned. The government is in scramble mode as never before.

But that's them.

What about you and yours?

What's happening to you? A change in business volume? Difficult cash flow? Credit restrictions? Change in job status? Work environment? Work requirements? Customers hurting?

Yikes.

It's not "change" — it's "drastic change."

How are you reacting to the events? Most people are experiencing a combination of reluctance and resistance. A combination of scared and worried. You are not alone, but it doesn't mean you have to join the afflicted or the paralyzed.

Following is part of why you're having trouble adapting to changing economic climates, followed by what you can do about it.

REASONS YOU RESIST CHANGE

1. Your inability to face the reality that it's actually happening to you. The news is always about someone else's drama. That's why you watch it.

2. Your natural defensive posture. "It's not my fault! Someone else did it."

3. Your natural resistance to what's new. "It's always worked before, and I liked it that way."

4. Your procrastination and inability to face reality. "I see it coming, but it may just go away, I'll change later."

5. Your previous comfort and present comfort. "I have a lifestyle, and I don't want it interrupted!"

6. Your unwillingness to abide by the new rules and the new standards. Resistance to self-improvement. Resistance to be measured by results. Resistance to being measured against others. This is especially true if you're a longtime employee.

6.5 You think: "It can't happen here." Uh, Sparky, it already has. And it's not going away any time soon.

Do something!

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Is there a solution? Are there answers?

Yes, there are.

Create more self-time and less TV time. The news is not great — especially people giving their opinion about what is happening. Watch less of it. Now is the time for action, not opinion.

Study attitude for 15 minutes every morning. Give yourself time to read, think and plan.

Relax mentally. Breathe.

Get up earlier, stay up later. Now is not the time for "balance." Now is the time for "money."

Do your best every day at work. You never have to prove your worth if you're doing your best.

Avoid attending the pity parties. There are plenty of them.

Don't participate in the rumor mill; wait for the facts to emerge.

Don't participate in the grumbling. Just get to work and sell something.

Make a projected cash flow. Cut now so you don't run out of money in the near future.

Sell more. No company ever cut their way to success.

Guard your customers. Your competition is gunning for them.

Serve your customers better than ever. Earn their loyalty with value.

Help your customers with their issues. Their situation is what's causing your falling sales numbers.

Give something of value to your customers. They will thank you and respect you.

Select your top customers and invest in them. They will thank you and reward you with their loyalty.

SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY

For years I have defined change as opportunity. That definition is still accurate.

This is not a time to "get over it." This is a time to get on with it and take advantage of it.

Before you try to make another sale, before you call on the next customer, look at the real world so you can come up with real ideas and real answers.

Let me be more specific. I want you to look at and define your real world, and their real world. Before you visit any customer, you have to know what the total situation is. In these times, "sell them" may be last on the list.

Don't make the fatal mistake of just defining your situation. You also have to define the customer's situation, the market situation, and your company's situation.

Write down the situation.

And then start looking for opportunities.

What are the opportunities for the customer, for your company, and for you? Is there an opportunity for you to capture a higher percentage of the customer's business? Is there a market opportunity that customers are missing because they are more focused on their woes and their competition, rather than their strengths?

Once you've identified all the opportunities and you're clear on their situation, then and only then can you begin to write what you intend to do - your objectives.

You may have several objectives. Whatever the objectives are, they must be clearly stated and defined in writing. Do not confuse objectives with goals. Write down what you intend to do to help the customer, do more business with the customer, gain more referrals from the customer, and make the relationship with the customer a financially rewarding one.

Now, I'm going to challenge you on a mastery point. Once you have this game plan written down: situation, opportunities, objectives, and intentions, I challenge you to share these thoughts with your customers so that they can become aware of how serious, how professional, and how certain you are about growing the relationship, helping them, and building your business.

Your list of ideas and answers will not only set you apart from your competitors, who at this moment are merely trying to sell and collect, but they will also build your relationship in the more difficult times.

Then, when times get better — and they always do, you will have earned the business and the loyalty that you deserve.

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of "The Sales Bible" and "The Little Red Book of Selling." He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to salesman@gitomer.com.