13 May Selling in Sensitive Times
COVID-19 has put to bed any idea of using pressure selling or hard-sell tactics that might have worked before.
Buyers are going to be far more sensitive to the methods used by suppliers to kick start new business, and salespeople will find it hard to know the appropriate level of “friendliness” they need to use.
The key to generating leads in the coming weeks, months, or even years, will be how to balance your approach between being friendly and helpful and the need to close an order.
Customers will still want good advice and creative ideas to rebuild their own marketing programmes and it’s going to be even more essential to show the added value you can provide.
It may be that they aren’t in a position to place orders straight away and you have to let them know you understand and only want to suggest new ideas for when the better times return. After all, anything you can suggest that solves a problem will help get the relationship restarted.
At the moment, it’s as much a question of clients getting their own business back on track as it is for you and that’s even more reason for them to work on new strategies that may build new business or fulfil existing objectives.
So, what are the Dos and Don’ts of getting back to Business as usual for you and your customers? Here are just some …
Do be prepared to take no for an answer.
Your customer is likely to be more sensitive to any sort of aggressive approach as a result of their personal experiences of Lockdown.
Do listen to what they are telling you.
Get a feel of what’s on their mind: be friendly, understanding and at all times, genuine. You might even conclude that now is not the right time to talk “shop”. The amount of “space” you give them could dictate whether they are up for talking about new projects later.
Don’t try to create an urgency to buy something that’s in short supply.
As anxious as you might be to close the deal, any pressure is likely to backfire and sour the relationship.
Do let your customer lead with any interest they may have.
Tell them that you will do your best to secure stock even if it’s in short supply, and provide any feedback that helps them to prioritise the challenges they face. Information is what they want, coupled with the space to make their own decisions without undue influence.
Don’t launch into a sales pitch.
You just can’t ignore all the issues highlighted above without it backfiring and doing so will do nothing to help the relationship that you’ve put so much time and effort into.
Do make sure that you provide the best possible service.
And make sure you follow through when they feel able to reorder. This will help your customer most of all, taking away their worries and giving them confidence in their decision to use you as a supplier once again.
Whether you go out and sell during a period of turbulence like the present, is a personal choice. Some may be happy to batten down the hatches and wait until things get back to “normal”. Others will wonder when is the right time to start again.
Perhaps the right time is ultimately when you can reach out with empathy and commitment, putting the needs of your customers ahead of your own.