Should You be Selling During a Crisis?
Written by: Suzanne Ratti, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
With Covid-19 now a part of our daily lives, many executives and salespeople are struggling with the question of “Should you be selling during a crisis?” Not only are these challenging times for businesses, but also for salespeople who are tasked with increasing sales and hitting quotas. It can be challenging to find the right approach, so here is one easy way to adapt making it easier for your sales team and potentially increasing loyalty from your customer base.
Should You Be Selling During a Crisis?
It’s a good question that really has to be answered with another question, “Are you selling something or solving something?” The approach to selling during a crisis is key to how comfortable and natural the process feels, to both your sales team and your prospect.
Are You Selling or Solving?
The biggest obstacle for selling anytime, but especially during a crisis, comes when we are actively selling vs. solving. If we approach sales with a mindset of solving vs. selling, we are already changing the approach. In the selling role, salespeople are focused on their own mission – selling! In the solving role, salespeople are focused on the client’s challenges – solving! Here is an example of how the two different approaches work.
Imagine a small business that has furloughed half their staff. But, you have a quota to meet, right? So, you are tasked with calling clients or prospects to sell your widget. For this example, let’s say you are selling promotional products. So, you tweak your regular “sales” approach and maybe have a conversation like:
YOU: “I wanted to let you know that we have some really great specials on promotional products.”
CUSTOMER: “Thanks, but we are really not in a position to buy your widgets right now.”
Insensitive? Awkward? End of sale, right? There are a couple of things to notice. First, the salesperson is using the phrase ‘we’ vs. ‘you’ – focused on sales vs. the client. It’s a conflict of whose needs are being met – the salesperson or the client? So, when we start with this approach, the simple answer is “NO – you shouldn’t be selling during a crisis.” After all, when a company or community is in crisis, your widgets are likely the last thing on their mind.
During a crisis, solving is helpful and authentic. It means that we are seeking to identify a problem or pain point and provide a solution. Identifying the problem means we get back to basic relational sales skills by asking questions. Let’s explore how SOLVING changes that conversation. Here is the same conversation, from a solving approach – notice how the salesperson uses “you and your” vs. “us and we”:
YOU: “What are your biggest challenges right now?”
CUSTOMER: “Getting our employees back to work and trying to offer an easy way for customers to buy our products.”
YOU: “How are you doing that?”
CUSTOMER: “Offering curbside pickup, sidewalk sales, etc.”
YOU: “Have you thought about including a small gift with each purchase? Something folks could really use right now?”
CUSTOMER: “Hmmm, like what?”
YOU: “Branded hand sanitizer, a branded mask, or even a roll of toilet paper?”
CUSTOMER: “That’s creative! I like that idea!”
And, low and behold, you’ve just solved a problem and sold something in the process! More importantly, you’ve probably created a relationship where the customer sees you as a resource vs. a salesperson. That is the big difference between selling and solving!
Solving may require more thought, training or even ‘coaching up’ your sales team with new ideas, products, and services to serve client needs right now. However, the investment in this thought process could not only sustain your business now, but position you to overtake the competition in the long run!
Suzanne Ratti, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Suzanne Ratti is a Sales & Marketing Strategist, a proven performer and an entrepreneur with a passion for helping businesses revolutionize the way they deliver their products and services to their target audience. Her background in Sales and Marketing for powerhouses like Xerox and SmartCEO allows her to translate real-world experience, critical skill sets and proven results for businesses in virtually every industry and setting. Suzanne provides engaging coaching and presentations that can inspire, motivate and empower business owners, solopreneurs, and their sales teams to think differently.