It’s true that the world has changed in the last few weeks, but the answer is still yes, with two caveats. We cannot forget about the elephant in the room. Now more than ever, people need to talk and our most important job is to listen. Let the customer talk. Let them share their story. A number of sales teams have told me that they’re having more conversations than ever before people feel isolated. And I’ve encountered the exact same thing with my phone calls. Allow the customer talk now more than you ever have. We are in a time where the business of sales is all about relationships.
You may find it takes longer for sales to close – that’s OK. Let’s be real here, we have a lot of outside factors at stake. The key is keeping things simple. Make it easy for your customer to make a decision, and be flexible. A key area where this plays out is when multiple people need to get involved. With everyone working from home, it is harder to have conversations. Without a doubt, the K.I.S.S. principle (keep it simple stupid) is applicable today. If the product or service you sell is complex, break it down into smaller transactions so that the initial order can happen now. The pandemic should end soon, and by then, you’ll be in great shape to add on the sale’s more complex parts.
Second, you need to understand what’s happening in their world. Don’t try to sell to someone in the travel industry. That’s just not smart. They have far more important things to worry about. How would you feel if your house just caught fire and somebody called wanting to sell you cable service. Most likely, you’d be jumping on that person. Be sensitive and know who you’re reaching out to. Take a moment to understand the backstory before you call. Now this doesn’t mean you grind to a halt by doing investigative research before each call. It just means you do a better job of segmenting by industry, customer type, etc. For many salespeople, this means shifting where they are spending their time, but view this as a major opportunity.
A recent example is one of my clients in Asia who has built their business exclusively with an industry that has been shut down due to the pandemic. Since their core clients closed, they’ve had to pivot to a new industry. After getting over the panic and accepting reality, they knew they had to find business somewhere, somehow. The result is now they’re selling into a new industry, one that’s never been touched. After the pandemic, this company will be even bigger and once the industry that is closed comes back, they will have an entirely new market. Do not, for a moment, view our present situation as the end for your business or for your ability to sell. There are out opportunities out there!
At the core of all this is the underlying question I ask all salespeople, “Do you believe you can help this person?” If the answer is “yes,” then it is your responsibility to reach out to them. Let me frame this up again with the example from earlier about a sudden house fire. If you now received a call from someone selling a cleaning service that specialized in house fires, you would be very open to hearing more. When you know your audience, it is amazing how much success you can have.
Many of you know about my new book, A Mind For Sales, coming out in just a little over a week. A few people have asked me if I am going to delay the release. My answer is no. That option has never crossed my mind; in fact, I believe the timing is better than ever. Why? I believe in the message, and I am confident it will make a huge difference in those who read it. I believe I have the ability to help others, so it my responsibility to sell the book. Truly, I think failing to sell the book now would be a disservice to the those who need it most. Sales is about helping people, and we help them best when we sell.
The key during this entire period is not being tone-deaf. Be sensitive, listen to your customers, take the time to personally engage. Yes, I am telling you to ditch the pitch! This is not a time for scripts; it’s a time for human conversations between two people who are dealing with similar issues.
The biggest point in all of this is don’t think you can’t sell with the nation and the world in our current situation. Certainly, you may have to adjust what markets you sell into and you will need to adjust your selling process, but that does not mean stop. I believe there are significant opportunities out there today, and when we get past this, there will be a vast number of opportunities.
We will get through this and probably as quick as we got into it, we may very well find ourselves stepping out of it. Never once have I not believe in mankind and most of all, I have never lost my belief that we are at our best when we’re serving one another. To me, that’s sales and that’s why I say there is never a day of no opportunities. It’s our job to find them.
Copyright 2020, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of A Mind for Sales and High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results.