17 August 2020

We hear you

By James Way

Selling during a crisis

It will be 7 years this August since I first embarked on my career in sales, during which I have worked through some very challenging times but I can say with certainty that the present situation surrounding COVID-19 provides me with the biggest challenge in my career yet.

When I returned from furlough at the beginning of July, I asked myself if I should be prospecting. After researching and seeing what other Sales Leaders where doing, all I was seeing was a resounding YES! They went on to say, that prospects are looking for partners to guide them and under the present set of circumstances businesses could be leaders in their respective markets.

But going out with the same messaging and solutions as before COVID-19 would not work, and in some cases, it may harm your credibility in the industry. Empathy will play a key role in determining the success of businesses in bringing on new accounts, as salespeople we must listen meticulously to each prospect so that we really understand the specific challenges each of them is facing and asking them tough questions will not be viewed as being insensitive but demonstrating a high level of curiosity towards their challenges will be a welcome relief in a world where they face mounting pressure.

An interesting point I picked up from Jason Bay, who is one of the many sales guru’s I follow, is that during these times people have a tendency to be risk adverse and will naturally want to avoid making any losses, as a result their inclination will be more towards saving than growing. This is true in our personal lives too, if we enter a financial crisis our inclination would naturally be to consolidate what we have rather than to go out spending and this mindset applies to our work lives as well, so the language and solutions we offer must reflect this.

Another observation he made was that humans tend to catastrophise crisis’ like these, that is not to say that this is not a serious situation because it is, but as humans we have evolved to instinctively fear the worst-case scenario as being the most likely possibility, which in most cases it is not. As salespeople we must not lie to our prospects by offering false promise and projecting a fake positivity to counter their fear, but instead we should be honest and hyper-sensitive to the situation whilst projecting a calm and pragmatic demeanour. 

I don’t pretend to know what the future holds when so much of this crisis is out of my control but I do know that I will be picking up the phone and talking to as many of my prospects as possible to hear what they have to say.

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