I can smell fear. You can too. And if we’re being pressured to produce pre-pandemic numbers I can smell the source. But if it’s leading to mass cold outreach and a tireless blast of pitch pitch pitch, these days it smells not just like sales C-list, it smells like sales Death.
So let’s get intentional about how we sell during the pandemic and let’s pray these best practices stick to all of us afterward (and that I never have to type that phrase again).
A few best practices from our team at Factor 8:
Take five to ensure that when you do get someone you’re prepared. They may actually be the most important part.
Start by segmenting your list into companies or people who might need your services even more right now. Then the folks who still could need your services. Hard-hit industries and companies go to the bottom. Be selective and force yourself to put your list into these three categories as evenly as possible. Resist the urge to say, “Everyone needs XYZ right now…” that’s as fool hearty as, “I have no competition.” Be a critic and be ruthless with yourself.
Now reframe your value proposition. Why do these companies need you more or still need you now? Carve your typical features and benefits to only benefits and those influenced by our current times. It’s always best practice to tie your product to an industry trend, and boy do we have a biggy right now. Start by asking how this global trend would affect your prospect and develop 1-3 key benefits for them right now (not features, benefits).
For example, prior to COVID, I could say any company with an inside sales team needs phone skills training for reps and management skills for new leaders to improve call quality, sales results and employee engagement. Now the very top of our prospect list are companies who traditionally sell face to face and who have no idea how to engage digitally. Companies with years of inside sales experience and enablement departments with robust virtual offerings are bottom of my list. I don’t lead with the amazing results we get in live workshops, I talk about our virtual offering, executive forums, referral programs, and dedicated manager coaching. (In other words, leave some of your tricks in the bag.) The benefits we emphasize are improved call quality vs. quantity, protecting them from lost opportunities, making it easier on their leaders, keeping morale high, and the long-term payoff of a team ready to crush it when things are back to normal.
I’d be remiss in not also advising y’all to get intentional about your background. Video calls are king, and I’ve seen open closets, unmade beds, and piles of laundry in backgrounds. On the same note, use your prospect’s visual clues to build rapport. Family pictures? Golf trophies? The weather out a window? If you show it, you want to talk about it – both directions.
Finally, I urge you to create some baby call goals. If your usual goal is to get a meeting, send a quote, or close a sale; your new goals could be to get their interest, develop a relationship, or qualify the account. We need small wins here and although budgets may be frozen, now is an amazing time to set up your future self for some fast sales. Right now people are:
- Taking more calls
- Attending more scheduled meetings
- Attending more webinars
- Getting real
(Thanks to my friend Chris Beall at ConnectAndSell for feeding me that data based on thousands of calls, connects, and shows).
So what if we went into calls with the goal of having a good conversation, learning about their situation, identifying future needs, and connecting with people at a human level? That’s a sales call I’m more willing to make and one I’m more willing to take. It also helps me start my day with an achievable (dare-say benevolent?) goal rather than a waft of desperation. If we open up a few opportunities during this, awesome. If we pave the way for future success, let’s take it.