10 Keys To Crisis-Time Selling
Timing is everything it is said and whomever said it wasn’t kidding. Most of the time if I’m coaching a client through a “crisis time” they need to overcome a sales obstacles that’s usually linked to their staff, their management or a set of circumstances that may be common but is extraordinary to them. Today, we have a bizarre commonality in that we have a world in crisis that is drastically altering how, when, where and why we do business. But you want to eat, you have to sell, and so it goes for the great majority of businesses.
Feel free to disregard this if you sell sanitizing supplies, hospital gowns/masks, ventilators or toilet paper. You have other problems but demand isn’t one of them. Demand isn’t a problem for many other businesses who are suffering disruptions in supply chain. If you market goods made in China it may be months more before the spigots will open. For the majority of businesses the paradigm is less a crisis of supply and demand and more so one of sheer uncertainty with a healthy mix of fear.
Since bouncing back, but first surviving, is our inevitable goals we know that competition will still be fierce. That competition may be in finding customers to sell to but surely now is when you will sow the fruits of the relationships you have built. You can’t deposit good will in the bank though so what strategies can you employ to adapt to the crisis environment all around.
After twenty-five years in corporate life I was ready to answer for my own executive leadership and start a small-business. Long was it a dream and the timing seemed perfect as the publishing industry was imploding around me. That was twelve years ago and, being born lucky, I had just set up shop in September of 2008. It was mere weeks after my new business cards arrived that Lehman Brothers collapsed and the financial crisis sprouted into bloom. I quickly realized that selling “corporate skills” to HR Directors was an express lane to bankruptcy.
I quickly altered my path and bought a sales training franchise because it seemed to make sense that if there was anything to invest in when times were toughest it was sales, selling skills, and learning how to help companies stay above water and position themselves for the inevitable rebound in business cycles. Who knew how far we’d sink first or how long it would take to bounce back so how to sell in crisis time was an immediate and indeterminate need. Sound familiar?
A lot of what we trained on selling in a “tough” market provides great lessons for some best practices to adopt right now, here are my top 10 keys to crisis time selling:
- EMBRACE UNCERTAINTY AS A SHARED EXPERIENCE – Everyone has the same questions today and no one has a lock on the answers. “What do you expect?” Is a question that you should work from and don’t fear not knowing.
- LISTEN HARDER THAN EVER – Your prospect or client will tell you how and when they can buy so hear all their concerns and provide contingencies as you can.
- EMPATHY, NOT SYMPATHY, CREATES MUTUAL BONDS – You’ve got problems, your client/prospect has problems so let the shared experience bring you together to a place of trust that is the basis for a good sales relationship
- LOOK TO OFFSET OR SHARE RISKS IN TERMS, TIMING OR WHERE IT MATTERS – Perhaps extended payments or delayed payments will make a difference. Discover how you can make it easier to buy and roll out that idea.
- VISUALIZE A COMMON BELIEF IN THE FUTURE – For some it will be patriotism, confidence in America, if you can project brighter times and get agreement you can use optimism, selling through pessimism is extra hard.
- QUESTION WITH COMPASSION – This is the time when the better salespeople rely on their training not to be fake but to be genuine. Using Reversing technique helps boil things to the core.
- UNDERSTAND PAIN, FEAR OR OPPORTUNITY – One of those will be a predominant emotion and each has a path for a selling professional to travel.
- FIND OUT HOW CAN YOU HELP YOUR CLIENT TODAY IN EXCHANGE FOR BUSINESS TOMORROW – The idea is that if I can help you today can I count on you tomorrow…creating obligation may not hit this months number but you need to be in this for the long game.
- EMPHASIZE SALES BEHAVIORS – It is easy for apathy and hopelessness to overwhelm today. The reality is that whatever used to take you 10 tries to get 1 result probably now takes 20 so the most important thing is to increase, not decrease activity. Checking in on all current clients, letting prospects know you are still working and there for them and making sure working from home does not mean doing less, it needs to facilitate doing more to get near the same results.
- CREATE OR EXPLOIT A CULTURE OF ACCOUNTABILITY – If this is part of your current selling environment you are ahead of the game. If it’s not then what could be a better time to pull together, to follow through on commitments and to be realistic about how hard you’ll have to run just to stay in place. Whether by carrot or stick or by common need appeal share commitments, celebrate success and focus on selling efforts rather than selling results.
Putting the effort into planning and executing sales behaviors now means you can have faith that results will follow. Instant gratification, big wins and great months may not manifest for some time but when the gates are again open it will be those who did the most work when they were shut who will reap the greatest rewards. That’s a lesson from history and while these waters are uncharted the cycles of business are as inevitable as sunrise…right after this eclipse.
©2020 MyEureka Solutions LLC. For help with SALES TRAINING or other BUSINESS THERAPY insights contact or follow @TomFoxTrainer, on LinkedIn or at www.myeurekasolutions.com/thoughts. Our current book: Business Therapy: Ideas and Inspirations To Help Build Sales, Leadership, Management, and Personal Performance is available on Amazon.