We are living in unprecedented times. Neither our parents nor even our grandparents lived through the last global pandemic. While the government imposed lockdowns are essential for our survival, there is no denying the fact that they are affecting the economy. The pandemic has also endangered something that is equally important for mid-term and long-term survival, a focus on business.
Are you tired of everyone around you still discussing #Coronavirus and tracking live updates while paying very little attention to work? We see this too, quite a lot in fact. So, if you are a sales rep looking to just do your job, here are a few tips to move your deals forward.
1. Approach with empathy
I cannot emphasise this enough. You do not know the situation of the person you are trying to call or email. While your state or country might have flattened the curve, others are just starting to see their case numbers spike. So, always begin the conversation with an inquiry about their well-being. Ask after their families and colleagues. Instead of looking at this as an impediment to your sales success, see it instead as an opportunity to connect with your prospect on a more intimate level. If this is genuine and heartfelt, I have noticed that most prospects offer up their time themselves to move the deal forward. If they do not, find out gently if they still want to talk at the time they originally suggested.
2. Identify less impacted verticals and target them
If your prospects belong to multiple industry verticals, identify the ones that are least impacted by shut-downs and quarantine. Target only those segments in the next 2 months. For example, while restaurants are are still shut down, grocery stores are facing demands they cannot meet. More and more of them are switching to online selling and also offer delivery options for better safety. Several online retailers have had a rush of orders that they cannot handle. This isn't true just for the ones selling essentials, but apply to non-essentials like cosmetics too (eg., Sugar cosmetics). Understand that it is not business as usual for anyone and approach your prospects accordingly.
3. Change your messaging
Is your product something that can actually help businesses in current times? Change your messaging to reflect this. All physical businesses are now in a time of crisis. Can you help them go digital in some way? Do you have an offering or can you create an offering that can be offered digitally? Now is the time to think fast and act even faster. Align your messaging with what businesses are going through at the moment.
4. Offer freebies
Audible just made their entire content for children/students free. I have never used Audible consistently, but now, I do, for my daughter. As my daughter listens to nursery rhymes, I have realized that I can listen to books too while I am cooking, doing household chores or driving. As a busy mother and businesswoman, I am definitely going to use Audible post the lock-down because it is an amazing way to keep reading. I am an audio-book convert (previously hated listening!).
Times of stress make people realize that they need things they previously didn’t. If your product is conveniently available for free to experience, you might just win a life-long customer.
In the B2B space, this is a great time to create free trials or POCs. Busy decision-makers now have more time on hand because they are not in as many meetings. Decisions will be hard to get at this time, but if they experience your value proposition now, they might come back to purchase later.
Another possibility is to lower the entry barrier for your customers by creating really low-cost options that will work for them. We, at Leadle have implemented this and have experienced phenomenal success with new customer on-boarding.
5. Alter your sales plans
This one is for management, but in a sense, it is also for individual sales reps. We all need to understand that a paradigm shift is happening. In this new normal, if you want your business to survive and grow, you need to be re-defining your strategy and goals right now. Focus on customer retention, on offering products/services that can help businesses at this time. Be as empathetic as you can with everyone, employees and customers alike. You might actually be one of the few businesses that grow during the Coronavirus crisis.
Individual reps need to take a hard look at their pipeline and:
- Focus on winning the deals that are about 80% into the pipeline
- Focus on soft touch for early and mid-stage leads.
- Spearhead the creation of content around your product for a soft touch.
- Assess new prospects from the POV mentioned in point 2.
Yes, deals will get delayed, but you can minimize the damage by being prepared.