I had a client meeting last week that you might be interested to hear about.  This client asked me to address his sales and marketing personnel about how to have sales conversations when the sellers anticipate that the target market is having a rough time due to the economy.  I focused my remarks on two types of conversations:

1) The informational interview – how to have a relaxed open-ended conversations with targets about the goals, objectives, challenges, issues they are facing/working towards in a non-threatening, non-”salesy” manner.   This sort of conversation is similar to the job applicant who is looking to switch industries so she talks to players who have insight into the opportunities in the new area.

2) The success metrics review  This is the "how are we doing?" conversation with past/current customers.  This call shows you care about success within your client base and gives you a route to add-on sales or referrals.

The meeting was very interactive.  I had the sellers do some “lab work” to get their creative juices flowing and make it “their” solution.  They brainstormed on appropriate content for each of the above conversations.  The group constructively critiqued their output and we role-played.

The next day, I received the following email from the sales leader:

I wanted to let you know I have received great response from the team since you left yesterday.  They immediately began incorporating your word tracks and are happy to share, ‘It Works!’”

So, instead of hanging your head because no one seems interested in buying, pick up the phone or get in front of people.  Show them you care by having one of the above conversations.  When the market turns or budgets begin to thaw, they will think of you.