Many companies have been sitting back holding their breath waiting for the economy to improve. They believe that when it turns, business will get back to normal. There are two problems with that line of logic, 1. What if it doesn’t completely turn back? 2. How do you compete against companies that have adjusted their sales strategies? See, the market has had a tectonic shift and it will never really function like the good ol’ days ever again. Companies have learned through trial to function leaner and more aggressively. They have incorporated a solid sales system and changed their approach to the customer base. Owners and upper management have gotten back to their roots by getting more involved with the sales effort. I foresee companies that have enacted these principles growing and eventually eat, defeat or destroy competitors that have been sitting and waiting. It won’t be pretty! Alas, many will still fail even in an economic boom!

But wait! There’s hope! Time is still on your side and you can begin to make the adjustments to eat as opposed to be eaten. Managing your sales effort has to become THE primary priority in your business. You must put administration, HR and operations on the backside of the business and get sales front and center. Look honestly at your personnel and evaluate if each one helps produce opportunity and business. The roles may be different, but they all must contribute in some fashion. Maybe not in the form of face to face contact with the customers, but maybe their correspondence goes to clients, they answer the phones or deliver products and services to them. Each in their own way, engages the client. The economy will raise the water in construction at some point. The problem is that many won’t be able to adjust up and will get run over. Treading water to this point will not help you when the tidal wave comes! You’ll be swamped! Tweaking your website or sending out fliers will not cut it. Being active with your customer base will be even more critical than ever. There will not be an opportunity to “finally breathe”, but instead the speed to transaction will pick up dramatically. Project owners that have been waiting to go on their facilities will want them yesterday. They will go to architects and GCs they trust and know. The GC’s will look to subs that price competitively but more importantly, bring projects in on time with excellence. Trust will once again be the number 1 buying motive and true partnership in construction will resurface. Those that never gave up selling on these hot buttons will finally reap from those efforts.

Let me throw one more wrench into the works! An election. I read prognostications often. I talk to business and banking professionals as well as construction finance organizations regularly. All indications are that we’ll see a mini boom till about September. Then, regardless if your Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or Martian, everything will lock up till the election is over. Fear of the unknown back dropped against a good 5 years of tough business dynamics will cause people to hold their cash. Including those that own facilities or finance the building of them. Getting lined up sales wise will help ease the pain of what, hopefully, is a blip. I try not to pay attenetion to what the economic indicators are. I drive all of my clients to stay on top of their sales efforts regardless of what’s being reported. The one thing you can control is your own sales effort. As I regularly prescribe to my clients, continually evaluate the effectiveness of your sales work. Be brutally honest about them. Then adjust as necessary. Get help if you have little idea how to construct your sales strategy. There’s nothing wrong with seeking that assistance. Spending big marketing bucks is not a sales strategy. It’s a marketing campaign. I’m talking about getting those two legs moving and getting in front of your clients often. An indicator your weak in this area is if you have difficulty getting people to see you. This means your sales effort is off or dead. Time to get serious about correcting it.

Many times I write articles that are straight between the eyes. I may seem harsh but I need contractors to really take an honest look at how they’re selling. I fight common prejudices sales trainers deal with from individuals that can’t sell their way out of a paper bag. I could never build an office complex, pave a road or fix a leak in the plumbing, but I can sell! You must get an edge in some fashion. Waiting for the economy to fix your sales numbers is risky at best. I prefer to be in control of my own destiny. How about you?