2020 has been a rough one, but if you’re reading this you’re still in the business – in the fight.
Schools, bars, buses, trains, planes, manufacturers, retail shops, and even copier businesses are frozen in time. The fear created by COVID-19 has paralyzed everyone. We’ve all gone from thinking five years in advance to crossing our fingers and looking 60 days ahead.
The landscape has completely changed. Your newly learned skills: phone work, value proposition, bond and rapport, open-ended questioning, presentation and demonstration talent are not nearly as important as your resolve.
And forget product knowledge. Speeds and feed, for now, are irrelevant.
What’s more, “There are no experts” is the truest statement you can hear. Nobody has been here before – rely on your personal gumption.
And what of selling in the New Age? The foundation you’ve developed remains, but the platform is different. You will build and grow relationships through a video screen.
There is business out there to be had. I know of copier reps making more now than pre-COVID-19. Here are some things they consider when selling in the age of COVID-19:
Go to your base
Tell a direct story
Your existing customer base: “Help me help you.”
Today, we are looking the familiar: neighbors, family, friends. In the immediate future, finding common ground in your business relationships is paramount. The COVID-19 situation has given us all common ground – we are truly in this together. Call your customers and ask how you can help. It is your mission to find a way to help your clients in any way possible. If that means finding a source for masks and personal protection equipment, get on the phone and find a company.
Fear dissipates with planning. Help you customers reduce hard costs in every way possible with a plan, not an assessment. REAL cost reduction is extremely important.
Consider the possibility of future disasters and help your clients see and plan for the next wave of turbulence.
This point cannot be exaggerated – now, more than ever, your existing customer base should be your focus.
The story: “If I’m curt with you it’s because time is a factor.”
For the foreseeable future, talking face to face with a salesperson will not be a priority. Prospects will research from afar well before contacting a salesperson. Your glad-handing skills mean less today than they did on January 1, and that thousand-dollar suit, chunky watch and new Benz may impress mom and dad, but not your prospects.
You’ve got to be better on the phone. Now is the perfect time to be human and help solve clients’ problems. Your client wants to trust you.
In the realm of COVID-19, your relevance is tested with each statement – get to the point. Remove the “fluff” and “techniques” and conduct a focused conversation based on common ground. Today’s common ground is COVID-19. Share stories of how you and your colleagues are getting through this dilemma and then ask, “What can I do to help you, today?”
Don’t waste time. Talk about relevant subjects. Find common ground. Get to the point.
Online life: “I think you’re on mute.”
You know this: online meetings are no longer virtual. They are real. Get great at utilizing the platforms and make your presentation resonate with the heart, not just the eyes and brain.
It goes without saying that presentation skills have got to be on target. Bigger dealerships have either a person or department to provide pre-designed slide decks. Don’t use any that were created pre-COVID-19. If you must, cut the erroneous company history slides. Don’t show a deck, tell a story.
Use video. Yup, that’s what “they” say you need to incorporate. I agree. A face is easier to empathize with than your voice alone. Experiment with sending video emails or reach out on LinkedIn with a video – heck, do both.
Take your image seriously and be yourself.
Hard work: “Nose to the grindstone.”
Successful salespeople are saying they work more today than yesterday. COVID-19 made your job more difficult, but you can adapt and persevere. It might mean you comb through your client list a dozen times instead of twice. Instead of 100 dials, you make 120. Write and rewrite dozens of emails. Post on LinkedIn – maybe start a blog.
Embrace the grind
In the end: “Things aren’t the way they were before.”
Selling copiers is not easy and it has now become more difficult. But it must be done. As a salesperson, you are truly on the front lines of whatever economic recovery the world will create. I am not overstating. The gears of the global economy move when somebody sells something.
Congrats, you not only have a new job, you have a greater responsibility – you are now in charge of the greatest economic recovery in history.
Get to work.
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