First, be calm. Your customers are panicking, your competition is panicking, but the world is not ending; it is being challenged. It is going through a difficulty and, eventually, things will normalize again. Eventually, the panic will fade.
Think clearly with me, without panic.
The selling environment (and your competition) is changing quickly
Uncertainty creates caution, and there is immense uncertainty among your customers and prospects. Nobody is comfortable.
This week, you will be selling to a much more fearful market than you were working in last week. At least equally importantly: your competition is uncertain, cautious, and afraid too. What do people do in times of intense fear? They go into a defensive shell.
This week, for your competition, confidence is turning into fear; optimism is turning into pessimism; and boldness is turning into meekness. As such, many salespeople will proactively call customers and prospects even less. These calls will go from very few to nearly none. Many salespeople will be even less present for customers and prospects. They will offer fewer products and services, follow up even less, ask for the business almost never.
Ironically and sadly, your frightened and panicked competition will avoid doing exactly what their customers and prospects need from them right now.
Especially in this environment, customers want us to be present. Especially now, customers want to know that we are there for them. That we won’t let them down and that we will help them even more.
Now more than ever, your customers need peace-of-mind.
Now more than ever, your customers need you.
Do not abandon them.
How to sell during the crisis
In general, you should be making as many outbound, proactive phone calls as possible. Be as present as you can for your customers and prospects, because the competition is not.
- Follow up on all outstanding quotes and proposals. Do this starting today. A crisis is no time to wait for your customers to come to you “if they want it.” Go tell them you want to help them. Close everything you can that’s outstanding this week.
- Make a list of your active opportunities that have not progressed to a quote or proposal and follow up on these. Call the people you’ve been talking to about business. Tell them you are thinking about them, and ask if they’d like to proceed.
- Go to your order history, and ask your customers about products or services they haven’t bought in six months or more. “I was reviewing your history and noticed you haven’t bought this in a while. Do you need more?”
- Ask the reverse did you know question a lot: “What else do you need quoted?” Or “what else are you buying elsewhere that I can help you with?” Or “what other projects do you have coming up?”
- Call all of your current customers proactively. Ask about their families and their work. Ask what you can help with.
- Work to build your bench, or future customers. Some people may not be ready to buy today, but they will jump in with both feet once this passes. They will remember who was there for them during the difficult times, and they will reward you with business.
The competition is not.
The competition is in a reactive shell.
Let them be silent.
We will communicate.
We will demonstrate to our customers that we care about them.
We will be present.
Which is all our customers really want from us during this difficult time.