None could predict the magnitude of this crisis. The entire world has had no choice but to lockdown so drastically and all of mankind has been impacted. The immediate future seems highly unpredictable and uncertain like never before.
It’s therefore only apt to be called the ‘black swan event of 2020’. The dictionary meaning of ‘black swan’ is ‘ unpredictable or unforeseen event, typically one with extreme consequences ‘.
According to New York University professor, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, “A Black Swan is “an event or occurrence that deviates beyond what is normally expected of a situation and that would be extremely difficult to predict”. And that’s perhaps where we really are right now with the pandemic.
As business owners and entrepreneurs, once we get through this and come out safely at the other end and it will be as if the ‘Restart’ button of our lives has been pressed – including doing business & commerce.
It’s not clear to imagine what would be the impact & how much would be the impact on the ways, means & methods of doing business & commerce.
The reality is that the entire planet is under lockdown, and this has never happened before. Things are changing every day, leaving no clues as to how much more remains.
Selling in these times can be quite challenging. And if you have not prepared well in advance, for the changes & challenges in the markets and in business, then when you are faced with reality, it can potentially damage or get you out of business.
Following could be some proactive ways of preparing to sell smoothly during this downturn –
1. Know that there could be worst
Going with the turn of current events, it only makes sense to be realistic and be prepared for the worst.
While it’s good to be optimistic otherwise, this is the time to reckon with the reality, more so, with the world not doing well right now and with the element of unpredictability of the overall impact.
2. Take stock of the situation
As we process what’s going on, it’s absolutely normal to get stressed and anxious, especially when we start to assume the worst. We need to get through this phase in order to move on. After we’re through it, please put a plan together that makes you feel empowered and gives you direction. Then, start taking action, no matter how limited you might feel, in this new situation.
3. You need the cash-flows in, now more than ever
- If you have invoices due at the end of the month, give them a discount for paying today.
- Give your customers discounts for pre-paying upfront for the next 12 months.
- Prioritize as many deals as you can this week so you get cash flow as soon as possible.
In a world of crisis, the value of a monthly-paid contract is practically worthless. Companies in a precarious situation will break those contracts if they need to. Therefore, do everything you can to get as many pre-paid contracts as you can.
4. Act swiftly
Act faster than you thought you needed to, by being flexible to new changes and adapted circumstances. If there’s something you think you would do in a couple of weeks, you should probably do it today. Remember, no decision taken can be a bad decision. Not taking a quick decision is a bad decision.
See what needs to get adjusted immediately and adapt to this situation.
5. Anticipate new objections
The world situation is changing rapidly, and every day brings a new situation or a new challenge to your customers. Because of this, your customers’ objections will continue to evolve and could change.
While you manage the objections your customers have today, pre-empt them and be prepared for tomorrow’s objections.
6. Focus on a faster close rate
Today, you need to focus on the speed to close. Every deal that you can close today for a little less money is worth a lot more than a deal that might close next week with slightly better value. Why? Because every day that passes, your chances of closing that deal could reduce drastically. Don’t wait: close now. These measures may be the complete opposite of what you would do under normal circumstances. However, we are no longer living in normal times.
7. Short Term Plan and schedule can work better
Don’t worry about making another annual or a half-yearly plan to deal with this situation. It may not work that way. Your plans need to be more short-term – say for the month at max., weekly or daily. That way, you can adjust your plans as the situation changes.
This is the time to reset. To handle this crisis and move forward, you need to be nimble and react to the situation faster than anyone else.
While most of your actions should be short-term, you do need to keep a long-term view. This year will probably be bad for everyone but keep in mind that anything you do now could have long-term consequences.
8. Build & strengthen relationships with customers
Ask yourself: How can I be there for my customers now in a way they won’t forget? Your reputation is being built right now, and it will be there forever.
If you’re using fear and unethical practices to sell through the crisis, people will remember that too forever. Bad selling practices, if any, would reflect badly or poorly on the goodwill of the brand or business. Instead, find ways to build relationships.
9. Do what you can, but don’t do more
While trying to help your customers is essential to building relationships, don’t give more than you can.
Remember: the health of your business is the most important thing right now.
In other words, don’t give discounts you can’t finance. If you have excess cash, make these investments in your customers.
If you don’t have the cash, look for more creative ways to help them.
For example, why not offer consultations, waive service fees, or give more webinars?
10. Don’t be tone-deaf
Don’t pretend the world isn’t melting down. There’s only one thing people in business care about right now: how can I get my business through this crisis?
Anything else that you’re talking about with prospects is just going to get lost in the noise.
Instead, help them deal with the challenges they have right now.
11. Cut costs
This may not be the first thing I would do, but eventually, this is something you need to look at.
After taking stock of all the costs you have in your business, ask yourself: which of these things are necessary, and which ones aren’t? Focus on the costs you absolutely need and cut as much of the unnecessary costs as you can.
12. Find opportunities in crisis
Looking for new types of prospects that could benefit from using your product or services.
There are always opportunities: you just need to keep your eyes open and be ready to adjust quickly.
13. Leverage tools and technology like never before –
Given the limitations & restrictions in movements & meetings, this is the time to really embrace tools as a way to help enable your customers, your sales & support teams and repeat best practices.
For example, doing meetings online is accepted now.
Please do as many meetings as possible through Zoom or other virtual meeting platforms, saving your precious time and energy while also being effective and efficient.
To accelerate learning, you could have the live sales calls recorded and share that with the sales team and break it down to what’s working & what’s not. Great way to accelerate learning and stay relevant.
Therefore, it’s time to rise to the challenge, with the required urgency and to keep doing your work, adapt to the situation, and be prepared for what’s coming. Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments below.
Should you have any queries, please feel free to leave a comment.