Earlier this week, Suncor announced they are going to cut capital spending by $3 billion dollars in 2009 (see http://www.suncor.com/Default.aspx?cid=930&lang=1). One-third of Suncor’s budget is targeted to growth projects and the remainder for spending on base business operations. The President of Suncor, Rick George, was quoted as saying, “For the first time in almost a half a dozen years, we have the opportunity to go out and gain significant control over our costs.”
The process of gaining significant control over costs will become the primary business objective of every good company in this global credit crises; its also looks to be a long-term strategy based on the length of time it will take the current economic stimulus to impact the economy. To be a successful sales organization in this new economy, you need to become more aligned with your customer’s goals; these goals are reflected by the capital dollars being spent on improving core operations and less on new growth projects. Sales organizations need to commit to selling solutions and not products, ask questions that relate to customer new objectives, and most importantly, listen to what the customer is saying.
The last quote from George is the most telling, “I’m not a pessimist about this. I actually think this was the opportunity we’ve been kind of waiting for.” If you are a company that has committed to strategic vertical account and solution selling strategies, this is the “opportunity” you have been waiting for to re-engage with your customers, use your solution selling skills to help meet corporate goals, and differentiate yourself from your competitor’s who only know product selling.