What is your customer’s backstory? Everyone has one, and you need to take the time to listen to it. More than ever, salespeople are having tons of conversations, due to so many working from home. For some salespeople, this is no different but for others, and especially our customers, it is a brand new world. I bet you’ve heard of “WFH” – work from home, but I’ll share with you one more, “BFH” – buy from home. Previously, your customers most likely worked in an office and that was their home, their space, their domain. Now, that’s all disappeared, and for these people, the change has been significant. 

Video: Know Your Customer’s COVID-19 Backstory: 

All of these changes, the speed with which they’ve all occurred, and how they continue to evolve is evidence that everyone has a story. I call it their backstory, and the backstory has two parts: one is personal and the other is business. Unlike a book, where the chapters do not change when printed, backstories today are like watching a preschool webcam. Things change and they change fast. Each is bringing new developments. 

 The customer’s backstory has to do with how he/she is dealing with COVID-19, and all of the social boundaries that have come with it. Combine these changes with the lack of interaction and we’re discovering that people are far more willing to talk. Wow, what a novel concept for salespeople – we get to listen!  Sadly, listening is not something the sales community does well.  This is our chance to redeem ourselves and to become the deep listeners we should have been all along.  Our listening begins by taking the time to hear each person’s backstory. Doing so shows empathy – wow, another concept many salespeople never embraced in the pastThis is our time to significantly up our game in how we sell and how we communicate.  

As you listen to the other person’s COVID-19 backstory, you’ll be amazed that what you hear will help you connect on a deeper level. Go ahead and share a little about your COVID-19 backstory; however, make sure you keep the customer first. Just because you’re sharing doesn’t not mean you get to dominate the conversation. The relationships you create build trust, and this will not only help you now but also “PC” – post-Coronavirus.  

I strongly believe we as a sales community are going to come out of this pandemic with much improved sales skills.  We’ll be better listeners. We’ll be more confident in building trust, and most of all, we will have more trust in our own skills.  There’s no sales playbook on how to sell in a COVID-19 environment. Frankly, I’m glad there isn’t because it is forcing us to use our own personal playbook.  Our own playbook consists of three tools, each of which is controlled by our mind.  The three tools are our communication skills, our time management skills and our personality. Use the tools and work to develop them. Make them stronger, and never forget these are your tools; they’re not on loan to you. These tools do not have a monthly subscription fee. They are yours; you own them.  

The next several weeks / months are a gift and one that most likely, you will never receive again. I’m doubtful that we will ever have another period like this where conversations are happening so frequently and are extensive. Take a moment to look back on how hard it was to get someone to take a phone call just a couple months ago. Now, compare that to what it’s like today. The trust you build by taking the time to listen to backstories will benefit you not just today but for years to come. Just like other notable events in history where we remember what we were doing when they occurred, I am convinced that COVID-19 will be identical. You will not forget what you did during this time.  

One way I’m telling people how to handle things right now is to look at the relationships they are making as a part of their investment portfolio. Some investments have a goal of short-term gain, while others plan for a long-term payout with dividend along the way. Sales is about investing in others, and I assure you that right now we are making some of the best investments ever.  

Want to learn more about what questions to ask to better engage people in conversation? I talk all about it in my new book, A Mind For Sales. This is a timely read, and many are raving about how it has made a difference in their lives during these tough times. Grab your copy, and I would love for you to submit a review. Sharing comments is a helpful way to spread the word and make an impact. You can submit a review on Amazon or wherever you purchased the book. Click here to order on Amazon.


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.


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