Generating sales in today’s marketplace is a tough sell. It doesn’t matter if you’re business model is business to business or business to consumer its tough being a sales professional right now. Business and consumer budgets are tight and both are looking for opportunities to maximize their return on investment. The market has become increasingly selective about how to spend and invest its hard earned revenue.

Although spending is down companies and consumers have not stopped spending money, entirely. So how do you ensure your existing and potential customers will decide to spend their money with you? What can you do to encourage the marketplace to support your products and services?

Track every customer lead

This may sound obvious but it is imperative that you track and follow up with every lead. I am consistently amazed at how inefficient companies are at customer relationship management (CRM). Sales professionals need a flexible and easy to use system for tracking all instances of customer interaction. Today, because of open source solutions, companies and individual sales professionals can implement a low cost CRM system to help close more deals. Take a look at CRM solutions from and These solutions enable you to be up and running in days not months.

Offer multiple payment options

Does your business accept credit cards? Can you accept electronic checks? Offering multiple payment options to your customers in a down market is a must. Merchants must allow their customers to pay using the payment method they are most comfortable with. If you offer large ticket items you may want to consider a recurring payment plan. Since a large portion of the shopping public has hit their credit card credit limit you may want to offer electronic checks as a payment alternative. Remember the goal is to close the deal, to make the sale, so you must be flexible in your payment offerings. Take a look at payment services offered by Planetauthorize.Net. They offer both credit card and electronic check payment options with free recurring billing features.

Improve the customer shopping experience

Ask yourself this question. Why should a customer shop with you instead of your competitor? What are you doing to differentiate your business? If you cannot clearly answer that question you need to spend some time finding an answer otherwise your will never achieve your sales forecast or revenue goals. In order to increase sales in a down market every sales professional must be able to clearly articulate what makes their business a better value to the consumer. If you’re selling online, are your customers able to easily find the products they want? Does your online store provide a simply checkout option? Do you provide quality pictures and/or descriptions of your products and services? If not, your customers will go someplace else. Take a look at the shopping cart options from,,,,, and

Be prepared to sell

In order to meet your sales forecast and achieve your revenue goals sales professionals must focus a significant amount of their time on client prospecting. In a down market, client prospecting has become even more critical to generating sales. In fact, during a down market sales professionals must spend even more time prospecting new clients. If you have access to a CRM tool that includes the ability to process credit card and electronic check transactions then you already have a competitive advantage over your competitors. Use your website to generate leads. Your website should be a leading generating machine.
No matter where you are you should be prepared to sell your products and services. That means greatly expanding your base of contacts by networking and prospecting for the future. Every new relationship has the potential to lead to a direct sale or a referral. Therefore, it is critical for sales professionals to invest a significant amount of time building new relationships. You may also want to consider adding a partner or affiliate program.

Furthermore, sales professionals must be ready to sell and close deals at all times. Therefore, companies and independent sales professionals should be equipped with a mobile sales device capable of processing credit card transactions. There are many products that offer remote payment acceptance including iPhone Payment Solutions, RetailPayments VPOS and various cell phone payment services. Don’t miss an opportunity to close a deal.

Finally, remember, the business cycle is just that, a cycle. Eventually the recession will end so now is the time to prepare for growth. Now is the time to:

• Provide your customers with multiple payment options
• Implement a CRM tool with integrated payment capabilities
• Optimize your online store and improve your search capabilities
• Develop and/or expand your marketing message to differentiate your business from the competition
• Improve your prospecting process

As the market begins to recover and expand you’ll be in position to grow your revenue stream.

Author's Bio: 

Ricky Bracken is President & CEO of SaleManager Merchant Services. SaleManager Merchant Services provides enterprise class payment solutions to small and mid-size businesses. Our payment solutions include PlanetAuthorize Payment Gateway, Certified Shopping Carts, CRM Payment Modules, POS Terminals and Mobile payment solutions.