The Sales Management Specialists

Monday, 15 June 2015

Selling in a tough market

The Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) has recently released the May 2015 results of the biannual Director Sentiment Index (DSI). The survey of 540 for-profit and not-for-profit directors collected views on the Australian economy in general.

The survey results show that we are in tough economic conditions. Quoting from the article titled “Economic Strife” published in the AICD Company Director Magazine (Volume 31, Issue 05, June 2015)
  • Economy – The majority of directors expect a weaker Australian Dollar (US 73¢) and higher unemployment (6.6 per cent)
  • Business Conditions – 81 per cent of directors are not optimistic about the general business outlook over the next 12 months
Overall director sentiment is the lowest it has been since the second half of 2012:



In Western Australia, the reduction in demand from the mining sector has resulted in professionals from
many different fields moving back from mine sites to Perth, causing a high or oversupply in capacity.

With low demand and high supply, the result is that rates are being pushed down, and as we sell, we are often being pushed hard by our buyers for bigger discounts. What we have also seen is that buyers are becoming more risk averse; they are using existing suppliers rather than giving new suppliers a chance.

What then does this mean to a sales professional? As we sell, we must work harder to find jobs for our employers. We must focus closely on our account planning to ensure we understand the buying landscape and processes. We need to take extra care of our existing clients because we can be fairly certain that they are being courted by other suppliers for work. We must be cognisant of our pricing policies and ensure that being squeezed on prices does not put our employers at risk of losing money.

If you find yourself with non-productive time while waiting for your clients to make buying decisions, you can use this time productively:
  • We know that the economy is always cyclic. Times now aren’t as good as they have been. However, this will change. The market will come back; the only unknown is when. While we focus on selling in these tough times, when the taps are turned back on you want to be well positioned with your clients to be the one who gets the sales. By investing sales effort and time into future sales opportunities, you are taking away time from dealing with today’s clients. You may consider future opportunities non-productive effort today, and you and your sales manager need to discuss how much of your time, if any, is to be used positioning for when the economy turns.
  • Invest in yourself. When the economy turns, you aren’t going to have time to spend training and updating your sales skills so use the slow time now to do this. Growth in Focus has some excellent skills enhancement courses scheduled that will give you a refresher, or new skills to use in the current and future market conditions.
We are in a tough market now, and the outlook for the economy is that this isn’t going to change dramatically in the next 12 months. In the current market, selling for your employer is hard work. You can expect to be squeezed on pricing and have to work harder to obtain new client business. Remember though that the economy is always cyclical, and it will improve in time. What you do with your time now sets you up for when demand increases again.


David Black BBus MBA GAICD FAIM
Growth in Focus Pty Ltd


About David

David leads our Consulting Sales and Sales Tools team, bringing more than 25 years of experience to each client. With more than 25 years sales and management experience. His expertise is within many industry sectors including Mining, Oil & Gas, Utilities, Finance and State and Federal Government sectors.


David has held sales roles in include Denver Technology, Ajilon Australia, Datacom Systems, NEC, Permeance Technologies and Yenem Engineering Services.