Today we are all facing a challenge that two weeks ago seemed as likely as pigs flying. Yet, here we are facing a sales challenge you won’t find talked about in any sales training manuals or motivational seminars. Essentially, the world has shut down for almost everyone, and none of us can truly say, with any certainty, when it will reopen. With that reality staring us in the face I thought I’d take some time this evening and make some suggestions about how to survive the challenges in front of all salespeople. Below you will find a few ideas for each of the three points of our MAP to Success: Mindset, Activity and Process.
- Maintaining the proper MINDSET is critical. It is important that you don’t assume the role of victim as you get up and get started tomorrow and everyday that this pandemic affects our world. You are not the only one impacted by these conditions, so don’t assume a Woe Is Me attitude and feel like your plight is unique. Your customers and prospects are dealing with the same challenges you are, and they are as worried about their survival as the rest of us. Take some time and contemplate the way their businesses are impacted, and with that in mind practice some patience and nurturing. We are sharing a common bond of uncertainty and a mindset of support and care will be welcome. Many employees have been told to stay home so there will be fewer people available to help you or answer your calls. Doors will be locked to limit access. You will be dealing with skeleton crews if businesses are open at all. Accept the inconvenience and don’t get upset when people are short tempered or less than cooperative. Offer help first. Think of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits or Highly Successful People and Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood. Don’t allow the sense of desperation infiltrate your mindset, and keep the power of Person v Performance working for you every day.
- ACTIVITY is going to be reverting to back that old stand-by of telephone prospecting and selling if you are going to work “live” with people. Email will be an essential element of contact with others, but we will all be on overload at some point. Regardless, you must do your prospecting and customer service work as if nothing has changed. This is a good time to commit to being accountable for the activity required to successfully perform as a sales professional. Try pulling out the old reliable 100-point week scoreboards to make sure your mind doesn’t see this time new reality as an excuse to not go to work. Your competition might decide to slow down, but don’t get lulled into that ready-made excuse. Go to work and be accountable for the fundamentals of sales success, prospecting, collecting decisions and customer service.
- PROCESS management might prove to be tricky, but your discipline can carry you through the rough spots. Focusing on Managing Expectations with regards to timelines for appointments and getting to the real decision makers will require you to be flexible and understanding. The key employees that are still at work might be overloaded as companies reduce staff, so be patient, if at all possible. This isn’t a time to be perceived as selling with commission breath. Plan your sales calls, send homework and name those meetings to keep things efficient and effective. There will be even less tolerance for an unprepared call no matter if you are face to face or working over the phone. I can’t stress enough how important it is to stay off the bus when your market has been impacted by all the challenges this new reality has created. Be mindful of supply chain disruptions when making promises about delivery or product availability. Have those tough conversations up front and do the right thing. Remember the ultimate belief you need to maintain is that your customer or prospect knows you will always do what is right for them even if that isn’t best for you. That will be the ultimate test each and every day. People will have long memories if you treat them well or if you act less than responsibly.
Finally, I have no better idea when this will end than the next guy, so I won’t make any predictions on how long you must endure the coronavirus challenges. Play every day like this is the permanent new reality of the world we work in, sell in and live in. Don’t give in to those that want you to share in their doomsday conversations. You are totally responsible for your own attitude, so take that responsibility seriously. If it is a problem, your thoughts will be negative, but if it is a challenge the attitude will be strategic and positive. Make the choice that supports your success.
For anyone with appointments with this right now, Sarah will be reaching out to discuss options. Sarah will also be reaching out to all High-Performance Sales Program classes for April and May this week.