As we enter the 7th week of the pandemic and as the new normal of our reality sets in, most decision makers in every part of every business ecosystem are reeling from the minute-by-minute barrage of vendors hitting them with some sort of pandemic message. I spoke with one of our very best clients last week who told me his daily average of unsolicited vendor contacts has gone from an average of 10 a day to more than 50 a day! He also said that it is so bad his company is telling vendors to stop the solicitations as no new Master Services Agreements will be issued for at least 6 months!
From a sales professional’s perspective these are going to be the best of times and the worst of times. They are going to be good because you have a unique opportunity to strengthen existing relationships and leverage strong relationships to new customers through referrals. It’s going to be bad because it’s almost impossible to do any cold-based business development unless you have a unique and compelling value proposition that is able to cut through the noise.
For all the Sales Leaders and Sales Professionals who are regular readers of this blog, here are 5 mistakes that I think you need to think about and avoid as you plan and prepare for the upcoming weeks ahead:
If you have an existing business model and existing customers, by definition, you have a value proposition someone wants and is willing to give you money for. The absolute worst thing you can do is panic and show customers that you are desperate. Nobody ever buys anything from a desperate sales person. Ever. Try to be calm, be focused, and most of all be smart. Make sure you are delivering the right message to the right customer. Use your business acumen to understand the customer’s challenges/opportunities and present smart solutions to them to help meet their goals and objectives.
Don’t Scare Customers
Come on people. Really? Subject lines of cold emails saying, “Your Business has 30 Days to Live” is not the way to do it. Scare-selling and “pain” selling went out in the 1980s and this is not the time to revive it. People are genuinely scared and taking advantage of fear by calling out their fears is going to turn off customers even further.
Don’t Create a False Urgency
COVID-19 and the global economic crash have launched the world into an unprecedented crisis. We are conducting a free webinar (a $399 value) on advanced marketing in the crisis and we are holding one seat for you that will be released in 17 minutes if you don’t reply immediately.”
Everything is urgent, but nothing is really urgent. Every decision maker has the ultimate excuse not to make any decisions right now and creating some fake sense of urgency that “one seat is left” and “we will release it in 17 minutes” sounds insane.
We all get it. You must do whatever you think is best, but understand that this approach won’t work.
Sales professionals have more time on their hands than ever before in the history of selling. Consider this time to be your most valuable resource. Not your products/services, not your support team, not anything else. Just your time. To get the biggest return on this resource, you must optimize it and there is one great way to do that: aggressive preparation. Before you jump on that customer call, make sure have you:
- Googled all the latest news to see if there is anything of significance (good or bad) going on
- Identified if they’ve had any layoffs or furloughs
- Reviewed their latest business results if available
- Prepared an opening statement to see how that customer, the customer’s family, and the customer’s colleagues are doing
Forgetting about the Customer’s Business Issues
Access to customers is unprecedented during the time we are all at working from home. It’s easy to get too excited and jump right into your solutions set before you’ve established the proper business rapport and dialogue. Before you start “bag diving” and throwing out solutions, take a few moments to:
- Confirm their current business situation, goals and objectives
- Ask open ended questions about some of their short-term and long-term challenges and opportunities
- Discuss some of the impacts of either not solving the challenges or losing the opportunities
- Present the right value proposition to the most immediate and important challenges and opportunities