Selling in a Recession

OK, how do you go about selling in a recession ?

It’s Recession, there, I said it !

 It’s plastered all over the papers. Some people are sprouting doom and gloom. 

Well, let em. 
Just don’t listen to them.

My First Recession

I remember very clearly the first economic downturn I went through in my sales career.

My then boss called all of us salespeople into the Boardroom to talk about selling in a recession. 

Bob, declared our office a recession free zone.
If he caught any of us using the word recession or writing it in a report to him there would be trouble. He would not allow any of us to use it as an excuse not to make budget. I remember he said, “This year you really earn your salary, let those other fair weather salespeople flounder…”

A Great Story

I remember he told us a story.

The story was about a middle aged man who ran a hot-dog stand just off a big freeway. He had owned and run the stand for many years.

 The economy hit a recession. But he just kept selling his hot dogs.

Then his son returned from college for summer vacations and started talking to his father about the recession. The father hadn’t really noticed it. The son was telling him all the things he should do to survive the recession.  Well, the father thought I’d better listen to my boy he’s almost finished a degree and a very smart boy.

The son said he should reduce his stock. The father did. He should cut his prices. The father did. He should buy cheaper buns and dogs. The father followed his son’s advice. And soon, sure enough the business started to slow. Then the son said he needed to diversify, cut down his hours of running the stand and look for some other ways of making income.  The father did.

And, funny thing, the hot dog stand business did fail, just like his son said it would ?

Now it’s hard to embellish the story in print as Bob did back then but I’m sure you get the idea.

What Was the Result

You may be thinking what was the result.

Well, our State branch was the only one of the five in the country to make budget that year. Clear evidence that Bob's advice about selling in a recession worked.

Personally, I made budget. In fact, I made budgeted sales but exceeded budgeted profit.

I’ve been through at least two other recessions that I can remember.

I’ve always followed Bob’s advice and I’ve always made budget.

Many of you in the Northern Hemisphere are returning from holidays and the season is turning to autumn (Fall) and then into winter.

With the weather turning gloomy it’s easy to let that and recession talk get you down.

Think about it. Has the economy stopped ? Not likely.

Yes its slowed.

Instead of a train running down the tracks at 100 miles an hour it’s only doing 90 or 80.

Tell me, how hard is it to stop a train doing 80 miles an hour ?

A Simple Tip

Can I offer a simple tip ?

Instead of walking around saying to yourself,

“Why is this happening to me?

“Why are my sales down?”

Start using the word “how” a lot more.

How am I going to make budget?

How am I going to make that sale ?

How am I going to find new customers ?

How am I going to help my loyal customers through this ?

How am I going to keep the customers I have ?


Maybe all you need is one new customer to turn your year around.

Maybe, you can find a way to sell your product into a new market.

Get creative. Think like a winner. Never give up.

Inspiration ... from Where?

If you want inspiration, look no further than the Olympics.

Sure, a lot of the favourites won events there but what about the surprises ?

How many unknown athletes ended up with a medallion hanging around their neck.

They weren’t supposed to win. Maybe there weren’t even supposed to make the final.

But, they didn’t listen to the commentators or read the form guide.

They were winners. They wouldn’t give up. Follow their lead and earn your own gold and silver.

One Final Thing

One final thing. 
Another thing about selling in a recession. When you go into see some of your customers they will be feeling down.

Take the challenge to raise their attitude.

Be a light of hope for them.

In doing so, remember your sales rapport skills.

You have to meet them where they are before you can take them somewhere else.

Listen to their stories about the recession, agree with them and then gradually turn them around.

Maybe you can find a few inspiring stories from the Olympics to help you do that.


Remember, if you think you can do it or you think you can’t I guarantee you’ll be correct.