Sales in challenging times

By Dirk Coetsee

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Why do some premium brands still sell very well even during challenging times?

Various reasons might exist for this phenomenon, yet a key reason is that brands that maintain or even increase sales during very challenging economic times have a very loyal customer base.

Therefore if we want to thrive irrespective of the challenges that we face, we have to rather ask: “How do we build a strong and loyal customer base that will still support us during very tough economic times”?


As Simon Sinek preaches enthusiastically: ‘People buy why you do what you do’.

As a company and a sales team you have to strive for a cause that you sincerely believe in. Apples’ cause of challenging the status quo has led them to acquire a highly loyal customer base that firmly believes in challenging the status quo.

Armed with clarity of purpose and a sincere belief in the product or services they deliver, your sales team can be drastically more effective. Of course the quality of the product, technology or service that you are selling is of high importance, but even more important is the purpose that this product serves.

Arm your salesforce with proper technical training, not neglecting soft skill training such as building rapport, reading non-verbal cues and clarifying the client’s needs

Ensure that your marketing message clearly states your defining reason, your ‘why’, your cause. More importantly ensure that everyone’s behaviour aligns with the vision, purpose and goals of the business. If not, not only will your customers’ trust erode over a period of time, but also the motivation of your team members.

More so than any other principle the power of belief can sustain and increase your sales during challenging times.

  • To what degree does my sales team believe in the cause of the company?
  • At what level are my sales teams’ people or soft skills ?
  • At what level are we in terms of technical skills?

The above questions were stated in order of importance and honest answers will reveal what you should focus on in terms of strategic direction, training and empowerment.

Do inspiring group training with your sales team and take the time to do individual coaching with team members as often as possible to ensure that the skills gap is closed.

Ensure that you as the leader always hold up the vision and purpose as symbols of inspiration and be there to problem solve with your team to ensure that obstacles to performance are removed as rapidly as possible without putting ‘a dent’ in your teams’ morale.

Do not deny challenges as that will slowly build momentum for problems to become bigger. Build a trusting team environment where team members know the leadership ‘has their back’ especially during tough times.

Allow space for team members to ‘speak up’ and challenge the status quo in a healthy way which will in turn create an environment of authenticity where everyone collaborates towards shared goals.

Discipline in the small things become very, very important during tough times especially. Ensure that there is a strong and detailed focus on the customers’ needs and that processes and systems are streamlined and utilised to its maximum capacity.

This article first appeared in the Dec/Jan issue of Your Business Magazine. Read the rest of the issue here for Inspiration, Advice and Opportunities!

Dirk Coetsee is a business leadership coach for start-ups and established entrepreneurs. He is also a qualified Master Life coach and assists individuals to get “unstuck” in their lives and careers. You can contact him at:

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