Times are tough right now. That’s the reality of our sales environment. Decisions take longer, buyers order less, and opportunities evaporate into thin air. Even worse, it’s not likely we’ll get back to normal any time soon.
During times like this, it’s tempting to slip into “woe is me” thinking. We take perverse consolation in commiserating with our colleagues who are struggling just like us and wishing the bad times away.
But the truth is, the more time we spend focusing on the growth in COVID-19 cases and wishing for the country to go back to work and get back to normal, the bigger a drain we have sapping our energy and creativity. Which makes it hard to sell.
As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one viable option right now; focusing on what you can control.
This doesn’t mean being blind or tone-deaf to the situation we’re in. Nor is it about false optimism. Instead, it’s a quiet acceptance of the current situation followed by the best way to deal with it.
What’s Within Your Control
You’ll find you have many more options than may be obvious at first glance.
Here are three strategies you can implement immediately:
1. Find new ways to fill your pipeline
During tough economic times, you still need to add prospects to your pipeline. This may mean more cold calling, video meetings, or emails to prospective customers. But if you get creative about it you might:
- Put on events such as seminars or webinars with your colleagues
- Co-market with other companies in related businesses
- Create strategic alliances with sellers who call on the same decision-makers you do
These highly leveraged activities can attract even more people to your company than you might normally get from typical prospecting activities. Plus, you’re not doing it all yourself.
2. Enhance the quality of customer interactions
Let me be blunt. Nearly 90% of the sellers I know can significantly increase their sales effectiveness by improving their sales skills. If you’re in the top 10% of sellers who have honed their skills to near perfection, you can stop reading this now.
For the rest of you, let me suggest the following:
- Spend more time preparing for meetings. Do your homework on the company. Learn about their issues and concerns. Are they conserving cash right now, or striving to move forward? Figure out how to align what you’re offering with what they’re trying to accomplish.
- Sharpen your value proposition. If you can’t clearly articulate how your product/service can help your prospect reach their objectives, selling will remain a challenge.
Develop proactive questions. Use your questioning skills to engage your prospects in a business-oriented discussion that’s highly relevant to their needs. Focus on asking specific questions they can answer vs. broad questions they can’t, such as “How can I help?” Instead, try these ideas for framing questions:
Phrase questions around the problems your company is the best at solving
- How is this crisis impacting…?
- How have you shifted to handle X, given the current situation?
3. Increase your productivity
Start using the new sales technologies to minimize the time you spend on non-productive tasks. Use LinkedIn, ZoomInfo, Discover.org, and other tools to find names, create lists, or research firms.
If your company is using intent data, look beyond the assigned buying stage to discover what they’re searching for and what content they’re engaging with. Understanding which competitors they’re also considering arms you with insight on how they’re researching the issue they’re trying to solve.
Use tools like Google Alerts to notify you of events that can shorten your sales cycles. If you have access to sales enablement tools to send content, you’ll receive alerts when your prospects engage with the content you’ve shared. Arming yourself with insights that help you become more responsive and relevant will pay off in more and better conversations.
These three strategies should get you started. But, should you find yourself slipping back into the worry about when things will get back to normal, stop and ask yourself, “What’s in my control?”
Keeping the focus there enables creative solutions to emerge, and ultimately, keeps sales coming in the door.
About Jill Konrath:
Jill Konrath is an internationally recognized sales expert and speaker. She’s also the bestselling author of Selling to Big Companies, More Sales Less Time, SNAP Selling, and Agile Selling.
With over 1/3 million followers, in 2018 & 2019, LinkedIn named Jill as their #1 B2B Sales Expert. Salesforce selected her as one of Top 7 Sales Influencers of the 21st century.
Check out her numerous FREE SALES RESOURCES at jillkonrath.com/sales-resources