Selling in a Crisis
Apr 28, 2020
Peter Hannes IV
“Out of adversity comes opportunity” -Benjamin Franklin
Living in the current Technology Age, selling has become a way of life. Gone are the days of the Fuller Brush salesman. Instead, we are all selling our goods, services, and ideas every single day. With the current pandemic on our hands, retailers have had to close their doors and pause a lot of their selling activity. Where most people see panic and loss, I’d instead invite you to seek out the opportunities laid before you.
One of the eternal questions for marketers is “where are my customers and how do I reach them?” Luckily, for the next few weeks, we know the answer. Due to many of the quarantine restrictions in various states, most of us are now working from home. It’s not up to the customer to seek us out in a time of crisis, but rather up to us to reach out and become proactive. If you have their phone numbers, call them. Or better still, text them. If you have their address, send them a card. But do it with intent and with a plan.
In the last few weeks, I have received a ton of generic emails with a message along the lines of “let us know what we can do for you during this time.” How can I let you know what you can do for me if I don’t even know what you’re legally allowed to offer at this time? Instead, I encourage people to reach out with concrete plans. Spell out exactly what you can do for your customer right now, how you can help them now, how you can set them up for success in the future, and how you can deliver.
You’re going to get a lot of “I want to see how this pandemic plays out before I do anything” and that is a very real objection. In these cases, while they may not buy our product, they can buy into our plan. Paint them a picture of the future when this pandemic ends and there's going to be a rush to fill orders and get things back on track again. By reaching out ahead of time, you're also promising that they'll be taken care of first when things get back to normal. You're building a relationship.
Demand is not gone forever, it’s just on pause, and when people hit play again they’re going to think of those that reached out to them during this time over those who didn’t. At best, you gain an advantage over a competitor that chooses to use this time to stay complacent and reactive. At worst, you’re playing catch up to one that’s already started.
We cannot control external factors that put a strain on our business, we can only control the effort we put into it. This is what we do. When others see panic, we see opportunity. Now is not the time to run from our challenges, but rather towards them. We are professionals. No different than a pro athlete that trains and takes pride in their craft, so too must we train, practice, and take pride in our work.