Thursday, April 8, 2010

Retail Therapy

Given that we have almost become conditioned to bad economic news on an almost daily basis, the headlines today trumpeting the strong March results for the retail sector were a welcome departure. The Wall Street Journal reported that with about half of the retail companies on the Dow reporting earnings so far, all but one had beaten Wall Street projections. So considering that consumer spending accounts for nearly two thirds of the US economy perhaps we are seeing the first signs of the general public's inner shopper being released after nearly two years of incarceration.

This all bodes well for a resurgence of B2B spending, right? Well not so fast. The unfortunate reality remains that businesses do not return to discretionary spending as quickly as consumers do. After spending two or more painful years of downsizing, budget cutting and austerity measures in general, most organizations are reluctant to add back cost for two primary reasons. Firstly they want to see more obvious and sustained evidence of an economic turn-around and secondly they want to see how long they can maintain a greatly reduced cost base in order to maximize any profits the recovery may offer them.

What this obviously means for salespeople is that you are going to have to continue to sell in recession-like conditions even after the recession recedes and the recovery grows. By this I mean you are still going to have to continue to work extremely hard to create demand for your product or service and convince your prospect that there is a business imperative to purchase.

If you are waiting for businesses to turn on the spending spigot any time soon you are likely to be sorely disappointed. Instead continue to focus on maximizing and increasing your core business development skills and position yourself to create a steady drip of business – let the others misread the signs and forlornly wait for the deluge.


  1. Hi John,
    Thank you for your blog and post.
    You are so right now more than ever we have to differentiate against our competition, we have to know how to bring VALUE, and it has to be a quantifiable VALUE, ussualy in financial terms.
    Consumer and corporate customers are looking for the best deal, the lowest price, and it has to be our responsibility to guide them and truly show them the REAL VALUE we brig to the table and why they have to pay a premium from ME than from my competition. The answer is : What is the buying/shopping experience they feel when they buy from that from somebody else.
    How satisfied they feel they got what they wanted at a "reasonable" price.
    BTW - Love all your company books.

  2. Thanks Juan - exactly it is you as the seller who is creating the value and the differentiation.