- Michael Kerman
Selling in a Pandemic Economy
First, a couple of important disclaimers. I've never formally held the title of "salesman" nor have I ever had to sell during a Pandemic. For those of you who think this disqualifies me, that's fine. You don't know me well and can stop reading and get on with your day.
For those who know me or checked out my LinkedIn profile, you know that I have 20+ years of experience training, enabling, joint selling and working with indirect and direct sales teams, big and small. I've also been told that I'm a good judge of character and a "voice of reason". So, here are some tips and reminders that may come in handy.
Show Empathy. As much as you want to meet your quota, having empathy for your customer is more important than ever. In the past, the empathy was needed because you were asking your customer to make a big decision or spend a lot of money. Now, the whole situation has changed. Many of customers are scared... they're scared for their health, their family, their job, their company. It feels like the world if crumbling, the sky is falling.They're trying to focus on their job and what your product or service can offer, but this little thing called "life" is getting in the way. You may be having calls with them and annoyed that their dog is barking, their kids are screaming or both. Be patient. They may be stuck at home, with no options. Be understanding. Be compassionate. Put your customer as a human ahead of your customer as an opportunity.
Be Accommodating. Your customers may not be working in their usual location. Maybe they're working in a different office or maybe they're at home. Perhaps speaking to them in the evening or early morning, when the kids are still sleeping, would be more convenient. Show that you're flexible and provide options to accommodate situations that are brand new to all of us.
Be Concise. Your customers have A LOT on their minds and our plates, so they don't have a ton of time for long, wandering presentations or endless meetings to discover "their pains". Be specific, targeted and clear in your communications. Take advantage of the limited time they have to spend with you.
Be Human. This is certainly related to the points above. Use video whenever possible so you can be more than just a voice or email address. If the customer wants to share what they're going through, feel free to share little as well. Don't be afraid to seem a little vulnerable... it won't hurt your selling ability and might help you seem more trustworthy in the end. Anyone who says this isn't worrying them at all isn't being honest.
Be Capable. No kidding, right? I mean be capable in terms of your ability to leverage communication technology. It doesn't matter whether you're using WebEx or Zoom or any other technology, learn how to use it. Make sure you're confident in how to set up calls, share presentation, collaboratively share documents, use the whiteboarding feature, record calls and so-on. This isn't a luxury... this is the way we're doing business for a while.
Be Positive. As I mentioned, people are scared and this is new for everyone. Nobody wants to do business with someone who can only talk about how the sky is falling or how much money they've lost on their 401K. Be positive. Talk about how you're still able to help customers, solve their problems and work around these obstacles.
Be Healthy. You're not going to help anyone is you're sick... or worse. So, make sure you're taking all of the necessary precautions and getting medical treatment if it is required.
One of my faults is that I'm an optimist. I believe good things can come from bad. I believe that you can continue to build relationships and sell your products and services, even in this difficult and unprecedented time. It may take more of a focus on the soft skills than we're all accustomed to, which in the end, may not be such a bad thing.
Good luck and Good Health!