We great salespeople in outside sales typically fill workdays meeting with customers and prospects. The Corona virus pandemic has radically changed that. To stop the pandemic we need to eliminate face-to-face contact.
So what’s a great salesperson to do. My father who was a “traveling salesman” always said: “Son if they have a recession you don’t have to participate.” What he meant was that all of the economy wasn’t affected the same. With this pandemic, it might be more complicated but I think the philosophy is still valid. There are opportunities to be had.
Optimistic, Creative, Patient
Great salespeople have three characteristics: optimism, creativity and patience which will carry them through this time. And they think about and plan for the near term and long term. Those skills will not only get great salespeople through this period but prepare them for the new normal business world that comes after.
What You Can Do Right Now Personally
- The most important task for you is to keep yourself and your family healthy. Comply with the guidance given by the experts.
- Get outside maintaining the 6-ft separation to get fresh air, sunshine and at least some although at distance human interaction.
- Stay connected with family and friends via Zoom, Facebook, email, phone calls and other non-personal means. Hey you might even send a letter by mail. These conversations keep us optimistic and cheers up others.
- Kids at home? A chance to bond. Most great salespeople spend a great deal of time away from home and family. Now you can help with schoolwork, entertaining bored kids and bedtime story time.
- Support those local businesses which remain open. Buy gift cards for future use. Get delivery of necessities from local merchants.
- Join on-line activities. One granddaughter still takes her dance lessons from the instructor on Zoom. One daughter has her Zoomba class on-line. Even the choristers among the grandkids rehearse remotely.
- Regrettably this pandemic will cause a great disruption in the work force. Some will lose their jobs. If you are one of those now is the time to evaluate your professional life. Get your resume up to date. Line up references. And most importantly network for referrals to the companies you would most like to work for. Great salespeople are always in demand.
Remember unless you take care of yourself and your family you won’t have the energy to take care of your business.
What You Can Do Right Now Professionally
- Keep in touch with your customers. Great salespeople know what’s happening in their customer’s companies and markets.
- Be creative in how you contact them. Chances are many of them are like you and working from home. You won’t have in person meetings but there are still many ways to stay in touch. Be creative in your approach to the prospects who never had time for you before. Maybe now you can start building the new relationship.
- Keep your social media sites up to date. More folks working from home are spending more time on social media. Good time to improve your social media selling skills while looking for future opportunities.
- Some of your customers will be completely shut down. Make plans to help them get back to operation quickly when the time comes.
- Hopefully you will have customers still in business. Be sure to continue to support them as needed.
- If you are changing your product mix to add production of pandemic related items, let your customers know. When your customers change product mix to meet current needs, help them promote this.
- When you find customers still operating who need raw materials and you know of customers who have excess connect the two. This builds strong long-term relationships with future pay off.
- Did you have a social time with colleagues or customers? Then have a local bakery safely deliver sweets to their home. This not only helps maintain the relationship but helps your local economy. Munch them together as you meet on-line.
- Are you used to entertaining at lunch or dinner? Have a local restaurant safely deliver the meal to your client’s home. Again this not only boosts your relationship with the customer but also helps the local economy. Or send them gift cards to a restaurant to be used to celebrate the end of social distancing.
- All these parents and kids at home are probably using up all the printer paper, markers and other office supplies. Check with the local office supply store and have some safely delivered to their home. A kindness which will be remembered as we return to normal.
- Are you a math whiz? But not a social studies expert. Find a customer whose kids need math help and offer to do remote coaching. Likewise get a colleague or customer to help your kids with social studies, English or science.
- Professional salespeople have stuff they carry with them in their cars. Now would be a good time to chuck out the old outdated literature and samples. Call a local auto detailer who will come to your home and give the car a good cleaning. Your car will shine and the detailer will get paid.
- When business returns to normal, many of your clients will have new jobs or new positions within their current companies. Keeping up to date with all the key contacts during this time will put you ahead of your competitors who have not prepared well for the resumption of business.
- When you hear of a customer needing a new job, help them network among your customer base. This is a key way to a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship.
- Read and study for self-improvement. Remember all the “windshield time” you spent driving between customer meetings? Now use the same amount of that time to read and study to improve your professional skills. Read experts on the markets you serve to prepare you to take advantage of opportunities when the pandemic ends.
- Call your boss. Check in regularly with your boss and sales teammates. Share what you have learned and hear what they learned. Use Zoom for team meetings. This is a time to brainstorm the future and to do sales training to upgrade skills.
- Regrettably this virus will kill many people. If one of your customers or colleagues dies, as kindly as possible make sure all who are affected know of the death. This prevents the unfortunate situation which I experienced some years ago of continuing to try to contact a customer who had died. This is uncomfortable for both the customer’s company and you. Keep your CRM up to date, too.
Great salespeople are very creative. Times like this call for you to employ that skill personally and professionally. Be patient but don’t be idle. My financial advisor has this tag line for his practice: “Have a great day … Better yet create a great day”. Good advice for every great salesperson every day. Maybe especially now as we endure this pandemic and plan for what’s to come. Be optimistic: better times are ahead. Your optimism is infectious. It will spread like a virus but this time to make a better world.