Finding New Business in a Recession

How has the recession changed the way you look for and close new business? The question came up in a group I belong to on LinkedIn and I thought I would share my responses with all of you. The first deals with finding new business. The second, which I will post here tomorrow, deals with closing new business. And, when you are done reading one or both posts, please tell us what you think. How do you answer the question?

Part 1, Finding New Business

I am actually finding that the current economic climate has helped us at Randolph Sterling to find more of the clients we like to work with. As an outsourced inside, outside sales and sales management group, our ideal client is a growth oriented firm. Before the downturn, we would find a lot of companies who really didn’t have “their act together” and were looking for us to come in and perform miracles for their sales. Today, we find more companies who realize one or more of these issues:

  1. They have grown quickly and “threw money at the sales problems” by hiring more people but not necessarily developing any process to the sales function
  2. Their sales team is spending the majority of their time keeping current clients happy, trying to either keep or grow them while neglecting new business development
  3. The sales team has generally been reporting to a manager or even the company president who is not a sales manager (Usually a problem in manufacturing)
  4. They have grown to a point where they are considering making one of their top salespeople the sales manager
  5. The reps do not have an open dialog with the company or sales management and/or the company has no plan for the increased development of their sales team.

In addition to finding clients who have a better definition of their needs, we have also found that they better understand that the best way to bring in new business is to define their ideal client and focus energies–both in marketing and in sales–in finding them. This sounds easy enough but how many people REALLY understand the traits of their ideal client? For a firm like us, who works with companies in manufacturing and service from used equipment to accounting, we define our ideal client less by an SIC code and more by their level of growth and company culture.

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