I’ve been in quite a few meetings lately where I listen to people complain about their declining sales numbers and they all seem to be focused intensely on the next tactic to use to increase their sales. Whether it is the new brochure, or the new addition to their website. The problem is …

Simply adding a tactic will never be a long term solution!

I want to make sure I don’t come across the wrong way. I am not saying I have all the solutions or that people who are experiencing declining sales are doing so because they don’t know what they are doing. I know we are in the midst of the worst economic conditions of all time and we are unfortunately all a victim of these circumstances. I personally look at difficult financial times as an excellent opportunity for the cream to rise to the top.

The best companies, and not necessarily the biggest, will thrive in a challenging market.

It certainly doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that when companies and individuals are watching every dollar they spend, they’ll only choose to spend money with a company they trust can deliver on the promises they are making. The days of a company hiding behind it’s size and people believing they are too big to go under are over. Companies are no longer given instant credibility due to their size. Heck, it appears as though the large companies are the ones that are run horribly and inefficiently and are teetering on the verge of ending.

Smaller companies who specialize in small niche areas and focus on delivering results are the companies that will not only survive, but will thrive in ANY economic condition.

You may be saying, “That all sounds great, but my company IS delivering results, and our sales numbers are steadily declining. Why isn’t this specialization working for me?”

My response to that is, “Are you telling as many people as you can, and providing proof?”

The Internet is causing consumers to be more critical since they are exposed to so much information online. They can get the entire scoop on a company and it’s products within a few minutes of “Googling” online. When the Internet initially emerged I believe companies struggled with how to do business online, while still maintaining that “personal touch.” Well that’s all changed now with the introduction of web 2.0 technologies. Everywhere you look you see blogs, videos, online seminars and Social media like Facebook, Twitter, and myspace.

If a consumer is thinking about doing business with your company chances are they’ll begin their intelligence gathering mission online. Can they find anything about your company? If not, you have probably disqualified yourself from the running. If they are finding information about you, is that information painting the picture of your organization that you’d like? If not, you need to TAKE CONTROL NOW!

You need to earn a company’s trust and prove to them you are worthy of that trust. It isn’t about selling anymore, it is about proving you are worth doing business with.

What are you doing to prove your worth? Do you have a Facebook Fan Page for your company where you share successes you’ve helped your clients achieve? Do you “Twitter” and share new articles you’ve published that showcase your depth of knowledge and prove you are worthy of your prospective client’s trust?

Social media is no longer simply a tool your kids use to monopolize your family computer.

Companies are using social media sites and social media tools like blogs and video sharing to build “social proof” that shows they can deliver on the promises they are making in the marketplace. These companies are utilizing these mechanisms to provide “value added service” through education to these prospective clients. These strategies help develop friendships with these prospects before a transaction has been made.

Think about it. If you were making the decision betweeen the following two finalists …

The first company is only five years old, very small and specialized, but is highly visible on Facebook and Twitter. Plus you’ve read blog entries and seen videos online with companies JUST LIKE YOU who were looking to achieve the EXACT SAME RESULTS you are looking to achieve. The CEO’s of these companies were in the videos giving their endorsement and applauding the level of work.

The second company is the largest company in the industry, has the most tenure, and has complete top of mind awareness when you think of the problem you are looking to solve. The difference is when you went online to search, their website told you all about their history, their products, and what an excellent management team they had. Sure, they had a few testimonials sprinkled throughout their site, but they only used first names and a letter representing their last name. They also didn’t have any pictures representing this person, nor the industry or company they were affiliated with.

Which company would you choose? You may be one of the “old schoolers” who still believe the largest company that’s been around for decades is still the top contender for your business. I am thinking your stance on this issue is rapidly changing as you watch HUGE COMPANY after HUGE COMPANY close their doors. Today being big isn’t always better.

Companies that use the Internet as a tool to better understand their buyers and to deliver more value than they are paying for, will WIN. Companies that use social media to build trust and develop deep relationships with thier customers will be the giants of tomorrow.