By all accounts, the economy has slowed.

Many of my clients operate in the construction industry. They are distributors and manufacturers of products used in construction and remodeling, as well as service companies like engineering firms.

Interest rates are higher, money costs more, so there is less construction happening. This is still a market-by-market phenomenon, but even in healthier markets, my clients are seeing signs of slowing.

For example, one executive reported this week that the quality and quantity of resumes coming in are significantly higher. After an extended period where available talent was heavily constrained, this is starting to change.

The remedy to this kind of economy is proactive communications.

Because there is less business for everyone — the pie is smaller — the only way to contract less than your market, or even grow, is to take market share from your competition.

The only way to do that is to communicate with customers and prospects when nothing is wrong and ask what else they (1) need, (2) use, (3) buy, and (4) have coming up.

Let me show you how this works. This is a weekly sales chart for a distributor client, along with a five-week running trendline. The arrows and notes are mine:

Each bar is one week of sales volume. The blue bars are weeks before our project began. The green bars are after we launched and salespeople started systematically communicating with customers and prospects when nothing was wrong.

The black dashed line is the five-week running sales trendline. You can see it was on a heavy downward slope in the fourth quarter of last year. As soon as salespeople started proactively communicating with customers and prospects, the downward trend slowed, and the sales decreases became less severe.

About 10 weeks into the work, the downward trend reversed, and for the first time in about 6 months, sales started to increase consistently. You can see where the trend line was projected to go with the dotted line extension, which is the “Projected sales trend” item on the far right.

For other companies in my client’s market, sales results have continued their severe downward trajectory. But my client started making proactive calls; offering additional products; following up on quotes; asking what other projects their customers have coming up…and, critically, they did this systematically.

Every customer-facing person has been asked to make and track these communications. Outside salespeople, inside salespeople, counter salespeople, and quotations people. If you talk to customers, you can offer some additional value to customers.

These are behaviors that are proven to generate sales growth. We even know the “batting averages” — for example, we know that 20% of did you know questions close and turn into a new line item of business. So all we need is the behavior, in quantity, over time. This is why my clients maintain careful metrics on revenue growing efforts, shared with everyone involved in the work.

My clients are taking market share from their competition. The reason this works is that while you communicate proactively, the competition does not.

It’s a really easy crowd to stand out amongst!

If you would like to discuss taking market share from your competitors, call me at 847-459-6322 to discuss, or simply reply to this email.