How to Sell and Be of Service in This Coronavirus-Infected Environment
By Art Sobczak
I want to share with you how you can survive, thrive, and be of even greater service to customers, and prospects in this coronavirus environment we’ve suddenly been thrust into.
My definition of sales and selling for over 35 years in business has been helping people and more specifically, helping people buy. And that is even more accurate, important, and essential right now, given how so many things have changed, just in the past week.
I’ve compiled a number of suggestions as to what you might be able to do to be of greater service to customers, future customers, and to yourself.
Vaccinate Yourself. Not physically, but mentally and emotionally. Success in sales, more than any other profession, is reliant on our thoughts, which result in our actions–or inaction. Saying there is panic and tremendous negativity right now makes me Captain Obvious. You can choose to participate in it, or not. But this requires more than just a meme or motivational quote. It requires BEing a positive person, with all of your thoughts.
Transformational coach, Jim Fortin says that “nothing has meaning until I give it meaning.”
This is true for everything in life. From a bird you see outside your window, to anything anyone says, to the entire coronavirus situation, none of it has meaning for you until you give it meaning. And you totally control that meaning, positive or negative.
This related point is painfully simple, and yet complex at the same time:
Everything is just a thing.
All things mean what you want them to. For example, many people right now are telling themselves a story that their customers are also panicking and don’t want to speak with a salesperson. Others are saying, “Now is the best time to reach out to customers, reconnect, reassure, ask how I can help, and share ideas of how other customers are coping.”
What is your story?
Jim Fortin has made available some amazing free video training on this topic called the Master Thought Formula. I strongly suggest you check it out. Here’s the link.
It’s a GREAT Time to be of Service. And as I said before, selling is really all about helping, and is the ultimate form of servicing. There are tremendous opportunities out there right now to be of service and to sell and prospect.
The saying, “We can’t control the wind, but we can adjust our sails” certainly applies today. And not to be cute, but I will change the spelling of “sails” to “sales.”
Yes, there are new opportunities right now that didn’t even exist last week. I’m not talking about taking advantage of people, I’m talking about helping to an even greater level.
It might require getting really creative. An owner of a boutique mountain resort who has been hit with cancellations asked me what he could do. I suggested doing social media to promote a self-quarantine get away, or to contact businesses in the area to offer an opportunity for small retreats, away from the crowds.
Ask yourself this question:
What new problems are your prospects and customers facing right now, that they might not have had last week, and how are you uniquely qualified to help them?
In my case, my business for over 35 years has been helping salespeople use the phone more effectively in their sales and prospecting. Right now, many who did not have a need to do that are finding that they must, and I have many many resources to help them.
Be Smart With your Outreach. My prospecting methodology and flagship book is Smart Calling. In my opinion, it was never a good idea to just smile and dial and engage in the numbers game, shotgun approach to sales. It is disrespectful to try and get someone to spend time with you when you have not taken the time yourself to understand them, their business, and any unique situations or problems they might be experiencing.
This is even more important today. It’s not tough at all to do even the smallest bit of research on your prospects and customers, and easier than ever to even go more in depth using Google, LinkedIn, and premium sales intel services.
My friend, and sales intel expert Sam Richter shared some gold nuggets on specifically how to do this in Episode 90. And if you are interested, I’ve partnered with Sam to provide his amazing, proprietary sales intel search engine, at a special promotional for my listeners and readers. See that at SmartCallingIntel.com
Speaking of Using the Phone, Yes. Do it. Most humans desire to be connected. If they are working from home, when they normally are around people, they might be more apt to want to speak with someone.
Start with contacting your best customers first. But don’t do a “Just checking in” call. That’s lazy. Come up with a list of 10-20 possible items of interest or possible value you could share. Think of what unique challenges and problems they are now encountering, and how you might be able to help them.
Now I know some people are forced to do this and make calls when they have not in the past. They are not sure what to say and don’t want to sound stupid. I can help you here. I’m giving away copies of my book, “How to Place the Successful Sales and Prospecting Call.” Just help partially ($4.95) with the shipping to get it to you. Get it at FreeSalesBook.com.
Speak to the Human First. As I’ve always said, businesses don’t buy from businesses; humans buy from humans. Right now every single person is being affected in their own way by the virus. Most not physically but, in other personal, family, social, financial, and work-related ways.
This week was supposed to be a fun guys week for me and five friends who were to come into town for a week of spring training baseball, hockey games, watching NCAA basketball, and probably a few beers would have been involved. Well, of course none of that is happening. And in the entire scheme of things, not that important in comparison to others, but it’s part of my story nevertheless.
For many salespeople the small talk and chit chat has always been a part of their conversations. I know for others, maybe they don’t engage as much and are not comfortable with it. Right now, we all have a built in way to connect with everyone we speak with because we have this current situation in common. Ask your customers and prospects how they are doing personally, and be prepared to share your story too.
Use Video. If you haven’t used video yet in your marketing, prospecting, or sales, now is a perfect time to start. Obviously I am doing it here. There are lots of options. It could be using an online meeting platform like Zoom, Sykpe or GoToMeeting for live interactions. Or sending a personalized video through email using a service like BombBomb, VidYard or Soapbox. Two executives from Bombbomb, Ethan Beute and Steve Pacinelli have written a great book on how to do this effectively, it’s “Rehumanize Your Business: How Personal Videos Accelerate Sales and Improve Customer Experience.”
Also, in Episode 84, my guest Jason Bay detailed his Reply Method for getting responses to cold emails, and how he did it with me using video.
Invite Your Customers to Talk. If you have hundreds, or even thousands of customers, you might not be able to reach out to every one personally by phone or video. But you still can do something that connects with them personally, something that shows you care, and possibly initiate a personal conversation.
A client of mine is The Chef’s Garden. They are one of the original boutique, farm to table growers of gourmet, and all-natural produce. Their clients are mainly chefs who desire the very best and unique vegetables, sprouts and flowers for their restaurants.
The owner, and face of the company is Farmer Lee Jones. He is known for always wearing his trademark jean overalls, red bow tie, and baseball cap. Farmer Lee just sent out a very heartfelt video to their thousands of customers, reassuring them that The Chef’s Garden would continue to be there for them, and letting them know about their intensified quality control during these times. And, very importantly, Lee invited everyone to contact him personally to talk. He even gave his personal cell number. I’ve got that video below.
Send Something Physical. My friend, Stu Heinecke, author of the great books, “How to Get a Meeting with Anyone,” and “Get the Meeting,” has coined the term “Contact Marketing,” which to simplify, involves sending something physical to prospects and customers. Stu has lots of examples, strategies, and campaigns in his books, and we did an entire episode on it, and that’s Episode 93.
You are only limited by your imagination as to what you could send. It could range from something as simple as a trinket or toy, up to something expensive or elaborate, like Google did with me, sending a Chromebook computer case, saying they would give me a computer to go in the case if I just took a phone meeting with a sales rep. That was attention-getting and got the meeting.
Address the Elephant in the Room. Many businesses are in an unfortunate position of being hit hard by supply chain issues, or other factors hindering their ability to deliver for their customers. If that is you, one route to take is to do nothing. Another is to face it head on, reach out to customers, have a discussion, and let them know exactly what is happening. Even if you do not have a satisfying answer, having a conversation is always better than not. Sure, it might prompt them to look for an alternate supplier. But in the end, the customer is better off. Most customers will appreciate the outreach regardless of what they decide to do in the short term. And in the long term, the gesture will be remembered, and likely pay big dividends.
It’s Not About the Sale Today. As the cliche says, “Change is constant.” That has been accelerated and amplified beyond belief. We’ve seen thousands of things happen in just the past week that have never happened in most of our lifetimes, and it will continue in the short term. It is not a time to be desperate. You have a massive opportunity to be proactive and make positive lasting impressions in the minds of your customers and prospects. The smoke will clear, we will come out the other side, and when we do, what will remain are the positive impressions you made during this disruption.
Use This as an Opportunity to Work on YOU. All of a sudden, self-quarantine and social distancing are common terms, and practices. Many people are going to have a lot more downtime than they’ve ever had. Some will waste that time by binge watching Netflix or doing puzzles or video games. Others will look at this like someone just gave them a tremendous amount of assets to invest. And, that is exactly what has happened, because you will have time, and that is more valuable than money. Use that time to increase your knowledge and improve your skills. There is more free instruction available on anything you want to learn than at any point in history, and it’s being added to every day. And that includes sales and prospecting. Go reread some of the books you already have. Invest in some new ones. Listen to more podcasts… including this one of course. When the dust settles on all of this, how much better will you be than you are right now? The answer to that is totally up to you.
I’ll end with a personal message for you. My entire life’s work has been in being of service to salespeople. And I see that as being more important today than probably at any point in my over 35 years in business. I want to see you survive, thrive, and help more people yourself. I invite you to take advantage of all of the free information I have available. And if you would like to speak or connect personally about how I might be able to help you or your team, send a personalized request on LinkedIn, email me at ArtS@BusinessByPhone.com, or of course give me a call on my direct line at 480-699-0958.
The world needs you right now. Thanks for joining me.