2020 started off with a bang, and many of us saw this year as potentially our greatest year ever. Markets were moving. Interest rates were good. Unemployment was down. We were jamming! Then BAM, CLANG, BOOM! It all came to a halt and everything we thought we knew went out the window. Seemingly overnight companies have folded up shop, unemployment is through the roof, and COVID 19 has crippled the global market. It’s scary for sure. Many companies have been forced to a virtual work environment, supply chains have changed, and consumerism is all over the map. Oh yeah! And all our kids are home from school 24/7. That’s easy to deal with.
If you are like me, continuing to work is the one thing that creates some normalcy in my world. But we are all having to change gears and change almost everything as we go along. My business centers on helping other companies sell or support their products, customers, or services. We are a 100% work-at-home contact center model but we still feel it too. All the sudden we were faced with a huge dilemma. How are we supposed to sell to people and companies during this time? Is it even appropriate?
The answers we came up with forced new perspectives, processes, and procedures. We found that our answers weren’t a hard ‘yes’ or a hard ‘no’. They were ‘yes’, but not like X and Y. And, ‘no’ but we could still do A, B, or C.
Our CLO, Kevin Dees, said it like this, “Adversity in businesses accelerates or forces adaptation. New processes come about, sure. But old processes can also be improved, and bad methods scrapped altogether. Adversity is, in many ways, just a forced, urgent, improvement.”
When it comes to selling products and services in today’s COVID 19 Business Ecosystem we came up with 4 tips we wanted to share.
4 Tips for Selling During The Coronavirus Pandemic
1. Look for Buyers Instead of People to “Sell”
There really is a major difference in someone who is a buyer, and someone who is being sold. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been in sales since 1992 so I am one of those old-school guys who believes anyone can be sold by a great sales person. But, now isn’t the time for that. Now is the time for strategically locating ‘buyers’. What is a buyer? A buyer is someone who is actively looking for, or in real need of your product, service or offering to improve their business, quality of life, or to solve a major problem they have. This approach has less to do with the product, or service, and more to do with WHO you are dealing with. This requires focusing on others and not just yourself.
You may ask, “How can I do a better job of this?” We asked that of ourselves. At Leading Edge Connections, we decided to take a long hard look at industries who were heavily impacted in a negative way right now, and then be overly cautious with how, why, and if we approached them. We spent time researching the different impacts around the country and discussed our true intent authentically. We also looked at digging into our marketing at large. We needed to get hyper-invested on intent data about our potential customer’s activities. This told us they were in the market and in need of product X or service Y. We know that there are buyers actively looking and if we could discover who they are then we felt comfortable approaching them IF, and only if our offering was a good potential match to assist them.
2. Reevaluate What You Can Do Financially
This one isn’t easy but it is a highly beneficial exercise. In a time like this we all need to take a step back and reevaluate a number of things. For us one thing was around the corporate motives. Are we willing to sacrifice marginal contributions for people to be employed. The answer was and is unanimously “YES”. That meant we needed to become more flexible on pricing our services and look for different ways to provision solutions to be more “in the moment” than usual. Maybe we would ease up on contract lengths and upfront costs for our new clients. Maybe we would issue a few invoice credits at the end of the month in the spirit of partnership to long-term clients. We needed to get creative and attach ourselves to possibility.
In looking at selling our clients products and services for them, maybe we needed to help create more flexible payment models, smaller packages, or provide higher value. I will tell you this, providing higher value is always a good move! You will need to look at this for your own business and see what you can do, but the idea here is that you peel back the onion another layer, see what’s there, get real with what’s important for now, and adjust quickly. Flexibility is key right now. You may even need to find a new product/service that’s more appropriate for the moment and sell it. Liquor companies are manufacturing hand sanitizer to meet that current market need (for many it’s an improvement in taste) and other industries are following along.
Our COO, Jon Juliano, brought up an extremely valid point in our meeting this week. He said, “Success, right now, is all about people. Take care of them, and they will take care of the business.” It’s so true and it lead us to our third tip.
3. Connect More
Life in general is all about connecting. That has been challenged at the moment with our “stay-at-home” and “lockdown” orders. People who are normally connecting in numerous ways have been impaired from doing so. Sales is all about connection! So when selling during this time make sure the focus is on connecting authentically. Showing genuine concern and empathy should be at an all-time high.
You may not be able to go visit a prospect or call on an office right now so think of other ways to stay connected to their business. One thing we have done is just pick up the phone and call people. Set up informal check-ins on video conferencing. Do you normally take people out for Happy Hour or drinks in the sales process? Do you normally meet at conventions and conferences? Get creative and recreate those things virtually. I can tell you from our experience with this, people are starving for intimacy and connection right now. We have started doing ZOOM Happy Hours for employees and clients. It’s actually really cool. You may be the only face outside someone’s immediate family they see all week. That’s a massive opportunity to build a long term relationship. Don’t be afraid to be a bit of a foxhole friend, because foxhole friendships work too.
4. Be Patient and Take One Day at A Time
The good news is that the COVID 19 thing won’t last forever. We will get through this. In sales it’s really easy to become impatient when things aren’t moving as fast as we want or conversion rates dip. Things may be very slow right now but that doesn’t mean we stop working!
Kale Sims, LEC’s VP of Sales, said it very well. He said, “Tough times or bad times, it’s always the process that will get you through them. The little things make the big things happen.”
This period in sales history requires a heavy game of mental toughness. That toughness means being patient, keeping an optimistic perspective, and continuing to work like a champion. We can’t look too far ahead. We just have to do the next right thing, remaining aware and open to what comes next. We may be forced to change sales cycles, adjust connection rates, and our conversion expectations. The one thing we must remain immovable on is a zero tolerance with negativity. Keep a mindset of greatness!
Times are definitely different, but this isn’t the end. It’s an epic opportunity to evolve, grow and conquer. Don’t stop doing what you do. You just may have to adjust the way you are doing it, or who you are doing it for.
The team at Leading Edge Connections is pulling for each of you, your families, and your businesses to remain uncommonly healthy during these times and beyond. Please know that we are here to support in any way we can.
Personally I believe that humanity’s greatest challenges have always focused mankind on creating its greatest solutions. I believe in the perseverance, compassion, and ingenuity of humanity.
Live & Lead Exceptionally!