How To Sell In Disruptive Times
The last few years have been crazy for the business world. A pandemic, the great resignation, AI, and now a recession, it's fair to say that “normal” working conditions are a thing of the past. As economic and political issues continue to influence the market, businesses need to adapt to this turbulence. This involves adapting their operations as well as how they sell. With this in mind, here are six ways you can adapt your sales tactics during disruptive times.
Acknowledge And Empathize With Customers
When reaching out to customers or prospects, you want to acknowledge the elephant in the room before diving straight into your business pitch. Start your call by acknowledging what the buyer may be going through at that time. You want to be genuine here, showing that you care for their interests and want what’s best for them. This is particularly the case if they operate in an industry that has been hit hard by recent market trends.
You want your interaction to be as human as possible- not just another sales call. Aside from business, you can talk about children, pets, vacation plans, or even the weather. The aim is to discuss a human experience that you have both shared to create a natural connection.
Avoid “No Decision” Decisions
A big mistake many salespeople make is assuming that the sales process is linear. They believe taking a prospect through a specific cycle will help them choose between them or a competitor.
However, research shows that a “no decision” option has become more popular during times of disruption. In fact, around 40% of deals are lost annually to “no decision” being made. This is caused by a Status Quo Bias, in which prospects have a natural aversion to a change in what they’re currently doing, which becomes stronger when the market is unpredictable.
As a salesperson you naturally go against the grain of a prospect's routine. Although some prospects may not be comfortable with their current situation, there's a sense of security to it that beats uncertainty. To change this, you need to challenge a prospects status quo by highlighting the need for change and creating a beneficial vision of what things can look like in the future.
Instead of instantly talking about your solution's features, highlight this need for change and create a sense of urgency, linking this to how your solution solves the prospect's main pain points.
Focus On Building Long Term Relationships With Customers
Profits in business ultimately come down to repeat customers. Customers who have already bought from and had a good experience are significantly more likely to buy again than prospects who have never heard of your business or products before.
Instead of constantly outreaching for new prospects, take a step back to see if you can help any of your previous clients. Be reassuring with them, showing your competence as a business and how you’ve thrived during recent disruptions. Offering stability and assurance is key to building trust and can help customers feel like they can rely on you before, during, and after the storm.
Stick To The Fundamentals
When the market is particularly turbulent, many salespeople believe they need to reinvent the wheel when in reality, they should be doing the complete opposite. During turbulent times it's important to stick to the fundamentals. Look at what’s already working and double down instead of trying new techniques to improve sales.
You can start this by learning as much about what you’re selling as possible. Look at your product or service manuals. Read about every feature and the solutions they offer. You want to know every small detail and how it can benefit the customer.
Once you’ve studied your product/ service, talk to friends, managers, and colleagues about your experience. More experienced salespeople will likely have experience selling during several turbulent time periods. They can teach you what works, the best practices, and how to keep your morale up when things aren’t going your way.
Lastly, make more calls and send more emails. While selling during disruptive times may be more difficult than usual, the more reps you get in, the easier it will feel. If needed, find new lists, capitalize on old lists, and ask customers for referrals. The wider you cast your net, the higher your chances for success.
Offer More Value
In the past, a sales process would usually end once the deal is closed. In some situations, an installation might be required and after that, all communication is broken off. During disruptive times you want to go above and beyond to ensure your customers are satisfied, particularly if you sell an innovative solution.
After a sale, ensure your customer has sufficient education to get the most out of your solution. This applies to every industry, from software to supplements. You can do this through digital workshops, emails containing best practices and tips, or in-person demonstrations. The more support you offer, the more a buyer will get out of your service and, therefore, the more likely they will buy again.
Be Prepared To Adapt
Many salespeople have a fixed routine when it comes to their selling process. They will set aside certain hours to make calls, use certain scripts and prefer working with certain prospects. However, selling during disruptive times may involve a change in routine.
For example, some may find that more prospects are buying in the morning than in the afternoon and, therefore, will have to change when they’re doing sales calls. Alternatively, more sales may be generated online instead of via in-person visits, which could switch up the techniques a salesperson uses during their day.
Selling During A Disruptive Market: Difficult But Not Impossible
With the market looking more turbulent than ever, it’s important to stay on top of your game and use all the resources you have at your disposal. While selling may be more difficult, it’s far from impossible. Learn what works now, and when the market calms down, you’ll be in a significantly stronger position to boost sales and build your career or business.