Here's how to change your sales and marketing approach to take advantage of these trends:
1. Make your messages more optimistic.
In hard times, buyers are cautious and even paranoid, so what works best are sales and marketing messages that emphasize the negative: avoiding risk, protecting investments, and cost-savings. When things are looking up, buyers resonate with messages that emphasize the positive: innovation, market share and revenue growth.
2. Develop some strategic opportunities.
It's harder to make sales in a bad economy, so you've probably been focusing almost exclusively on "tactical" sales that will generate short-term revenue. As the economy picks up, you'll want to expand into harder-to-win "strategic" sales that will pay off longer term, like customers in new (to you) industries.
3. Tighten your discounting policies.
A weak economy allows buyers to call the shots, which means that in order to sell you must be flexible in your pricing. In a growing economy, though, buyers are often more concerned with making the best decision rather than the cheapest one. Don't fight a price war when your customers are looking for the highest quality product.
4. Revisit your "dead" accounts.
Chances are that you've got a list of customers who stopped buying from you because they simply didn't have money to spend any longer. Guess what? While they probably aren't rolling in dough, it's likely that money is less tight. This is the perfect time to revisit those accounts to discover if they're ready to renew the relationship.
5. Become an industry "thought leader."
As economic activity accelerates, more "noise" gets into the system. As an increasing number of sellers clamor for the buyer's attention, your challenge is to differentiate yourself to "cut through" that noise. The best way to do this is to communicate a unique and powerful vision of where your industry is headed.
GEOFFREY JAMES writes "Sales Source on Inc.com," the world's most-read sales-oriented blog. His new book, Business Without the Bullsh*t, will be published in early 2014. To get weekly blog updates, sign up for his free "Insider" newsletter. @Sales_Source