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  • Selling in the Face of a Pandemic

    “I’m sorry, our budget has been frozen.” Sound familiar? “We need to make some cuts.” Had any of those calls? “We are in a holding pattern right now.” You know where this is going. Sales and Business Development professionals across the country are inundated by responses like these in recent weeks. The uncertainty regarding the short-term effects on businesses has left firms looking to ensure that every dollar spent, is done so wisely. This leaves sales professionals driven by volume, commissions, and close rates with a problem to solve. If no one is spending money now, what should I be doing?

    A quick perusal through LinkedIn will give you a clear understanding of what many salespeople are doing – creating content to stay relevant and top of mind. But here are a few examples of things you should not do to try and increase sales.

    1. Act desperate and “touch base”
      The prospect knows that if they need you, they can email you and get a response in six seconds flat. You are not reminding them; you are annoying them. You are bringing no value by “checking in,” you were looking for something to show your boss that you are making progress on your pipeline tasks.
    2. Spend 10 hours a day on LinkedIn connecting to strangers
      Having an engaged audience is excellent. Having a broad audience who cannot remember who you are or why you are connected is not. LinkedIn’s algorithms promote genuine conversation and networking, not just people who have many connections.
    3. Hard sell people trying to leave your product/service
      The customer does not like making this call, but unfortunately, they may have to. Please do not make them feel guilty or make it overly complicated. Handle it with grace and make them understand you are sorry to see them go, and if they ever change their mind, you will welcome them back.

    Here are a few things that are worth your time and energy while your prospects readjust their focus.

    1. Clean up that sales pipeline data
      It is tedious work, but it is worth it. Update all your notes, statuses, and contact info so that those sales reports show meaningful and accurate data. A clean and tidy sales pipeline is helpful to you, your boss, and the finance department.
    2. Read and relax
      We know you are type A, perhaps someone who likes to jump from task to task. However, this is an excellent opportunity to recharge your brain, body, and energy levels. Regular reading, whether for business or pleasure, will help you become more knowledgeable and interesting when all the sales conversations start back up.
    3. Refine your messaging
      If your sales deck still has the old logo and the case studies are outdated, spend the time now to simplify and refine your messaging in your sales literature and on your website so that when the time comes, your value proposition is both compelling and clear. Websites have become essential for selling during a time when face-to-face meetings are not possible.

    COVID-19 has caused much disruption but has also provided a chance for you to slow down and retool. This too shall pass, so make sure you use the extra time you have now wisely.