Accelerate Into the Fast Lane

Sooner or later, the recession will end and when that happens speed will give you a huge head start over your competitors who have been hiding, with their heads down in the trenches.

I have a friend who works as a sales director for a division of a large company. We like to get together from time to time and share war stories. In a recent conversation he told me about an issue that was impacting his team’s ability to sell. He said that because of the recession, his company was being more cautious about bringing on new customers. To minimize risk, his company had installed a new layer of bureaucracy and it was taking twice as long as it had in the past to get new contracts approved. But at the same time he was getting tremendous pressure to sell more business because his organization desperately needed top line revenue. He threw his hands up, “What the hell do they want me to do Jeb? My salespeople are frustrated, our new clients are questioning our integrity, and though I know it is not intentional, the entire sales process is grinding to a halt.”

Unfortunately, this is not that unusual. During recessions we have the tendency to slow down. And slowing down is not just isolated to businesses—we do the same thing in our personal lives.

Look around you. It’s as if everything, along with the economy is just creeping along. This is a far different pace than in the boom years that preceded this crisis. Some of this slowdown is understandable. When we are afraid, we want to take our time so that we make no mistakes. After we’ve been burned, we move forward tentatively. We become more deliberate. We slow down.

This is good news for the individuals and businesses that can rise above this recession depression. These are the people who will not allow fear to cloud their vision. With this clarity, they see opportunity where others cannot. And instead of slowing down they speed up.

Think about it like this: If your industry segment was like a car race, during a normal economy some of your competitors would be out in front; some would be left behind; but most would be bunched together in the middle of the pack. To pass a competitor you’ve got to jockey for position and try to find just the right time to accelerate to get around them; while at the same time they are doing everything they can to stay in front of you. This is what business is like in a normal economy. It takes much more time, effort and money to catch your competitors.

But what if all of your competitors had pulled off of the track and into the pits? How easy would the race be? How far ahead could you get if you accelerated even faster?

This is the argument for accelerating during a recession. Businesses and people everywhere have pulled over to the side of the track and parked, hoping to ride out the recession in safety. Others like my friend’s company are creeping along in the slow lane. So right now, there is amazing opportunity to put the pedal to the metal and pass them while they are all standing still. Right now, speed is your greatest competitive advantage.

Now is the time to aggressively attack the market, adopt new technologies that improve productivity, introduce new products and services, and become more efficient. Now is the time to hit your competitors harder, invest in your brand, set new goals and create a new vision for yourself and your company.

To prosper during the recession, urgency is mandatory. Sooner than later, the recession will end and when that happens speed will give you a huge head start over your competitors who have been parked on the side of the road.

Urgency and acceleration are about mindset. In many ways a simple belief system that gives you the strength to trust in yourself and your talent. Acceleration in a down economy is about getting out of your comfort zone and letting go of the status quo. It is about accepting that things have changed, letting the past go, and then building a new future. I’m not saying this is easy because it is human nature to default to our comfort zones. But it is necessary if you want to outsell the recession. Take time to set new goals. Get clear on what you want. Open yourself up to new possibilities. And then take decisive action.

Move faster to create brand awareness. Shift resources into sales, advertising, and customer relationships. Find faster ways to connect with new and existing customers. I met a business owner at a conference who told me how she was getting more done faster using video conferencing and web meeting tools rather than spending money and time on airplanes. She explained that when travel budgets were cut in her company she invested her own money to set up a suite of web 2.0 tools that have allowed her to connect with more customers and prospects in less time. She said the result has been amazing. She is closing more business, retaining her current customer base, and living a better lifestyle. As I listened to her I could tell that she was all about speed. When everything slowed down around her she accelerated and was outselling the recession.

There is opportunity everywhere. Opportunity has always been here—it didn’t just get up and leave because the economy went sour. It is just different opportunity. But you can only see this opportunity when you look forward instead of backward. You can only exploit it when you replace fear with trust in the fundamentals of sales and business. And when you accelerate, moving faster, driven by urgency, always looking forward, I guarantee that you will be unstoppable.

An excerpt from the audio book 7 Rules For Outselling The Recession by Jeb Blount which is available now on iTunes, Amazon and

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