The more things change, the more they stay the same
This article was co-written with Carlos Nouche.
These are unprecedented times for all of us regardless of region, industry, role or age. However, for many of us, we have experienced crises before – Global Financial Crisis in 2007, Black Monday in 1987, SARs in 2003, or 9/11 in 2001. And every one of those brought with it some degree of a “new normal.”
However, once we got to the other side, it was, and is, always amazing how quickly things to return to a state of normal, and we are stronger for the experience. You can be assured that things will not be the same tomorrow, but the fact is they never are. Every day brings a first start and new opportunities. It is up to us to take them or not.
Seth Godin may have said it best “We can’t change the way things are, but we can change how we will approach today.”
Selling in turbulent times is a topic we have addressed many times before. We do realize that selling in these times of crisis and upheaval is indeed different. There are more risks created by more significant uncertainty. But the position we take is that HOW WE SELL should not be altered in good times or bad.
The basic fundamentals of selling have not changed over the years. People are still people; they are focused on prioritizing what is critical to them, choosing the best options based on their unique requirements, and making the call if a change is worth the price.
These are just a few of the reasons that lead us to the conclusion that selling in turbulent times should not be any different. Of course, if you sell into a segment of the market that has been devastated, you have much more to deal with. For most of us, our clients are working from home, projects have been delayed, and priorities are being reassessed. We have even talked to a few individuals that have projects that have been accelerated because their project is associated with a highly critical business issue/driver that has become a top priority.
Here are a few ideas to help you in managing client relationships in these troubling times.
- Leverage your time first to be empathic to your prospects and clients
- We all have more time due to the lack of travel, commutes, and water cooler conversations. that we can leverage to get back to the fundaments of selling
- Make a list of your top 50-100 contacts
- Reach out to simply check-in on their own situations
- If your project/opportunity is still in play, take the time to really qualify based upon what is happening now. Sometimes this means doing all the things we know we should do but didn’t have time in the past
- Leverage the ValueSelling Framework® to identify your gaps
- Use the time to ensure we are tied to a mission-critical Business Issue – is it still a top priority or have the priorities shifted?
- Confirm or reestablish differentiation for your offering versus all the alternatives
- Quantify the impact so that the effort can be justified, especially as priorities are shifting almost daily
- Gain access to key stakeholders – most will make time to talk these days if we are speaking to them about their top priorities
- Mutually create a written success plan with your client based on their desired impact date
- If the project is not in play for the moment, be understanding and a positive influence
- We all know people buy from people, use the time to build a connection which long term will be to your benefit
- Even if there is no project due to situations out of all of our control – a personal connection to a follow human providing a positive tone will make you feel better and be more effective in your next interaction