Everybody is wondering what to do during this crisis. We’re all going through a completely new experience, and we’re facing challenges that many of us have never faced before.
However, a crisis is like a receding tide - it reveals the rocks beneath the surface that were there all along.
The Crisis will;
- Shift consumer attitudes and behaviors.
- Reveal unmet Needs which can lead to the innovation of new products/services.
- Reveal your sales capacities.
- Show how agile your sales operations are structured.
Crisis does not mean that sales have to stop. We must continue to sell during crisis, so far as we are careful not to offend the emotions of our clients.
I’ll admit, I don’t know everything, it’s pretty much a green field. But my goal is to provide some practical advice on how to manage this situation and come out on top.
So, let’s get started.
Will Companies Survive?
Companies in every industry have an opportunity to come out of the crisis as winners. Harvard Business Review reported in April 2019 in an article entitled “Companies Need to Prepare for the Next Economic Downturn” that 14% of businesses during the last four economic downturns were not only able to accelerate growth but also, they increased in productivity.
What did they do Right?
They Acted Early: All companies must understand that this pandemic will affect all of us and we all have the power to turn it for our good. Companies who proactively acknowledged the threat and its opportunities and took steps to address the challenge are likely to come out successfully.
They focused on Growth, not only Cost Cutting: The companies that succeeded focused NOT only on cutting costs but balanced it with growth through increasing their revenues. Cutting cost at the expense of SALES ACTIVITIES will definitely not make you successful but will rather lead you to heavy losses after the Pandemic.
How then do you sell Amid Crisis?
1. Acknowledge the Crisis.
In a crisis like this, it is imperative that sales leaders acknowledge the crisis immediately. Openly acknowledge the company and teams’ position within the crisis. A prompt acknowledgment minimizes speculation and anxiety and readies you to take steps to manage your sales during the crisis.
2. Respond Immediately to the Crisis.
The next step is to ENGAGE the entire sales value chain and develop an immediate response strategy to the crisis. You must rework your processes, the sales pipelines that are active and usable and the reorganization of the teams whiles not compromising on their health and safety. This involves consistent communication with teams, providing support (both physically and emotionally), and motivating the team to keep focused on the job.
3. Listen and Understand Your Prospects.
Listen to your prospects and understand what’s going on in their world right now. The better you understand them, the better you’ll be able to serve them. If you serve them well now, you’ll be able to continue closing deals.
4. Develop a Customer-Focused Response.
Setup an involving communication platform (virtual platforms – Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.) for discussing a deliberate customer-focused response. The team must discuss risks, sales tracking, supply chain, customer challenges, and sales stabilization strategies during the crisis. This team should be balanced with branch representation to ensure a more quick, effective, and targeted solution.
5. Evolve your Products/Services to Respond to Customer.
Every reasoning behind various business decisions is being questioned during and beyond this crisis. The way organizations do business will change and customers are recalibrating their spending patterns, questioning their product/service acquisition decisions and their attraction to certain products and services may change forever. Sales must lead the charge to evolve the products/services of their organizations to match the new normal for our businesses.
6. Don’t Give Up, Stay Positive.
Selling comes with many challenges and COVID-19 challenges are no different. Keeping a positive mindset is all about acting and planning your sales activities in an ethical manner so that you can gain trust from your clients. Approach the crisis like you approached any other sales objections. You’ve got this. Keep your chin up and keep an open mind.
7. Activate or Intensify your Social Media Selling.
As the infection rates keep on rising and the new normal now being social distancing, organizations need to develop creative ideas to sell their products whiles limiting the physical interactions with prospects and customers.
It is reported that Whastapp, Facebook & Instagram has seen a 40% increase in its usage.
Investing, using, and staying connected with your customers and prospects through the various social media platforms is one sure way of selling effectively to them.
To achieve a positive outcome, companies must be empathetic, keep posting, provide organic value, use creative content, provide helpful information, and relevant advice.
8. Build Relationships.
Some of the customers may not have the budget or expenses are focused on other essentials other than your product and services. Use the period to do market research, get to know your clients more, and get them to check out your product or service. Invest in time right now to build goodwill and create relationships. Then, when the world fully resumes, you’ll have a hot prospect that’s already primed to purchase.
Investing amidst crisis may sound irrational as most businesses may try to gain instead of giving out. Don’t make that mistake. As one Maxwell Maltz said; "Close scrutiny will show that most 'crisis situations' are opportunities to either advance or stay where you are". This is where seller can invest in (1) their businesses to enhance and add more value to their business, and (2) other small businesses within your domain or may be needed to form a partnership. In the long run, you improve your business whiles supporting other businesses.
There is an OPPORTUNITY in this pandemic for every business.
It may seem callous to stress Opportunity In The Midst of a Crisis, but sales leaders have an obligation to look ahead, to anticipate and meet new customer needs, to evolve their strategies and organizations, and in so doing sustain the prosperity of their enterprises.