Almost every salesperson has been through this dilemma. In the midst of an ongoing crisis, they sense an opportunity to sell. And while their rational sense leads them to believe that they could genuinely help, those in need, they are faced with pushback, anger and in some cases public shaming.
Nobody likes an ambulance chaser! And no good salesperson likes being thought of as one. In times of crisis, it’s normal for people to react irrationally. Which will make them focus on how you’re selling something or when you’re selling it, rather than what you are actually selling.
Here are some tips to help you figure out your selling strategy amidst times of crisis.
Validate that you are selling a solution to the crisis
Even before you proceed with your email or call, it’s important to check if the product/service you are selling, will make your customer’s life easier in this time of crisis. A lot of software products help in enabling remote work. Reaching out to worried CIO’s and HR Heads in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, with a product that does this is completely valid.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Do you authentically believe you are offering a solution to their problems? If you believe, yes, then go ahead with your pitch.
Address the elephant in the room
Be upfront about why you are reaching out to your customers in your communications. “I am reaching out to you because I believe my product can help you solve <problem>”. Many salespersons err by not specifically addressing the crisis. Not only will this make you appear inauthentic, but it will also fail to register for those customers who are inundated with a lot of promotions from other salespeople like you.
Don’t lean on FUD
Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt are a bad salesperson’s best friends. Don’t resort to them, to push your sale through. There is already a crisis on, and you won’t win any favors trying to add to the negativity and panic.
Do not use “what-ifs” in your sales pitch - “If you don’t do this then your business could suffer”. Also, avoid creating a false sense of urgency by asking your customers to “act quickly” or making your offer to them limited to a certain time frame.
If you will make that sale, it is very important to get your customers to trust you. And falling back on FUD will erode any chances of that.
Avoid price gouging or long lock-ins
If your customers show interest, do not use this time as an excuse to jack up your prices, make your contract terms longer or insert hidden costs for services and setup. Not only will you erode whatever trust your customers have placed on you or your company, but you are also ensuring that they will explore alternatives right away, or in the best case, at the end of the crisis at hand.
There is a high chance that customers will continue to use your product/services after the crisis is over if they can see the value and grow to trust your company and you.
You have convinced your customers that you have a legitimate solution to their problems at a time of need. It’s important to ensure that the solution is delivered to them as expected for a good long term relationship with them.Be prepared for blowback
As mentioned before - people don’t always react rationally in times of crisis. There is a strong chance that there will be a small percentage of customers or bystanders who do not approve of your approach, regardless of how you proceed. You should be prepared to accept it, as long as there are others who acknowledge what you’re selling is solving their problems.
There are several examples of successful products and business relationships being forged at times of crisis. It is not distasteful to want to sell something in the midst of one. However, your approach and timing can make the difference between you being a friend in need to being an ambulance chaser