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Selling During This Time Feels So Gross (but doesn't have to)

Published on June 25, 2020

Kim Orlesky

It’s the story that we’ve told ourselves. But is it true? 


At the end of 2008 I was working for a Fortune 500 company on their sales team. As the team went around the lunch table commiserating about how tough the economy was going to be, how unfair our plans were considering the economic conditions, and what reasons we were going to give our sales leaders for missing our plans, I finally decided I had enough.


“There are plenty of people out there who want to hear from us,” I said.

“It’s not that easy,” said one of my colleagues. “No one wants to hear from us”.

I took this on as a challenge. The truth was I thought of all my clients as friends, and my prospects were like friends I hadn’t met yet.


I never saw myself as the “typical” salesperson. I cared. I wanted to help and educate. There was often a lot of resistance between me and my sales leader, but I didn’t care. I felt that treating our clients from a place of compassion and care was how sales would really be made.


I continued to reach out, but to the chagrin of my sales manager, my meetings were never about talking about products and services, but rather about their business.

In the end, this is what mattered. I ended up closing out the year as the sales rep of the year.


Now looking back on the situation we are faced with today, it’s a similar climate. We need to be there for our clients, and the business will follow.

When we treat others with positivity, future-optimism, and help them to dream, the results come. We are here to help others, and those are the continued reasons why we should constantly be reaching out.


The sales conversation will naturally evolve, if it needs to. There is never any harm in letting someone know that you are there, that you care about their success, and you are more than happy to help.


Then the next time something happens in your client’s life, whether that is a global pandemic, a recession, or even something personally challenging, such a mass layoffs, bankruptcy, or death, you will know exactly how to reach out and what you can still focus on to make the most out of your relationship with your clients and prospects.


Here are a variety of different ways you can reach out to clients to let them know you care, and to build your sales funnel:

1. Show them how to use their old tools

Have your clients been working with you for a while? Did they miss some of the updates and upgrades you made over the last year (or more)? Now's a great time to reach out. Let them know other ways clients are using your services in unique ways. Spark a new conversation. Also feel free to filter your CRM by product line and start reaching out to clients who aren't using your entire suite of services. Today's a great day to show them how much more efficient they could be.


2. Personalized Training Sessions

You may have done a great job promoting updates with mass webinars, but that information can easily get lost (or worse, they had it playing as background noise and didn't capture all the information). Reach out to your high-potential clients and offer them a personalized training session. Create more intimate conversations, answer their questions, and drop a few seeds on why it may be beneficial to increase their service offering.


3. What are the requests your client may make?

Be proactive in how you can help your current client. What might be the services or additional value you can provide them? Extra cleaning or service? Outside business hour servicing? Flexible payment structures? If you're going to offer a better service be specific in how you want to help your client. It's not enough to say "I'm here to help" but rather how you will help me specifically and make that your offer. You want the client to simply say "yes" and not have to think about how you will help.


4. Connect Clients & Industries

Be the central hub for many different clients and industries. People will know you by how you connect others, which will ultimately have them talking about you and your services. If you serve multiple clients across various geographies, this can be a great time for your clients to share ideas and collaborate. Everyone's business becomes better when people work together.


5. Partnerships & Panels

Find businesses who target similar audiences and create either partnerships, or look at hosting events where they are brought in as part of a thought-leadership panel. Your clients will love hearing about topics they are also interested in, and the best part? The panelists may bring in their own clients, allowing you to leverage an entire community to help you build your business.


6. Find out why your clients bought from you and love you

This is also called "the voice of the customer". This can be done either as a formal afternoon, where you bring in multiple great clients who all give you feedback, or informally as a phone call interview. This gives your clients an opportunity to give you feedback. What do they love about you? What was that "deciding moment" where they decided you were going to be their service provider? Are you still providing them that exceptional level of service and are there ways you can continue to help? This is your opportunity to double down and create even more impact for future clients.


7. Promote and celebrate prospects and clients

People love being surprised by a social media shoutout that shares what great work they are doing for their clients or the community. This can be a planned and strategized post, or this could be a complete surprise. Imagine being recognized for your great work by someone who you aren't doing business with. Doesn't that feel great? The nice thing is then you can call that prospect or client and thank them over the phone and see how you can create even more collaborations. Authenticity will always be a great selling tool. 


8. Interview clients and create case studies

If business is coming down to a crawl, now is a great time to create the content that will help you grow more customers. Interview your best clients for case studies. Interview the clients who you would love to have as your best clients. Once you've been gracious enough to record their story people will be more willing to take the time to listen to yours. Another great opportunity to share more of what you have to offer as a company.


9. Strategic Planning Sessions

Take the pressure off the "immediate" sale and work with the client to focus on where they want to be in the next 6 months to 2 years. This becomes a completely open conversation that takes you away from the vendor and rather a facilitator to goal setting. Once the two year (or whatever future time frame) has been established, work backwards with the client to plan the steps that need to happen in the next 6 months, 90 days, and ultimately 30 days to make those goals a reality. Usually the magic of sales will allow an immediate, or near immediate sale to happen. You're not only creating new sales opportunities for now, but setting up your pipeline for success over the next 6 months.


10. Plan with your clients what the future looks like for their clients

One of the best ways a premium service provider helps their clients is through third-box thinking. This is where the vendor stands in the shoes of the client and asks themselves, if I was my client, how could I help their clients? This type of thinking is even more critical during times of downturn. Help your client connect deeper with their clients by being the outsider looking in. Spend some time thinking about this on your own. Bring in your own ideas. It will be hugely valuable to the relationship.


11. How will you help me make more money?

There may be some companies who are looking to reduce their costs, but far more of them, especially the ones that are most likely to survive will be looking for ways to invest to make more money. How does your solution help clients to thrive? When you ask a client for a meeting to help show them how to make more money, how many of them are going to turn it down? Don't use this as a "bait and switch" opportunity. You need to be clear and specific in how that is going to happen. But if you can bridge that gap, that's where the magic will happen. If you're needing more help on this, our graduates with KO Sales U spend their classrooms answering this question for their clients.


12. Create New Solutions and Bundles

Many clients want something unique to get them through this time. You may not have an "off-the-shelf" solution. Instead of saying no, why not use this time to create something specific to what your client needs. This will involve asking a lot of questions and digging into ways your client will work with you, but it will also be some of the most rewarding solutions you can create. Think outside the box on this one. It may include training their team, inviting them to speak at events, hosting them and one of your events, bringing them new client opportunities. The sky's the limit!


13. Be willing to service the forgotten companies

This isn't just a hard time for you, it's also a hard time for your competitors. This is usually when they are doing anything to keep their most valuable clients, and forgetting about the others. You don't have to win big accounts to win big. Lots of the smaller players will be enough to make a huge impact. The smaller accounts have usually been underserved for years. Now is your time to show them what it's like to work with a company that truly cares about them. This is your low hanging fruit, and a chance to create valuable relationships with the ones who have been forgotten.


14. Go in for the fast transaction

You don't need to create something incredible when what you have is already working. If you can show a client how your solution is going to create efficiencies in their business - faster cash flow, reduced spending, increased sales - then focus on this. Don't make a sale harder than it has to be. If you've been working with a prospect and they haven't taken action yet, there is no better time to make them move. After all, what are they waiting for? If not now, when?


15. A booked meeting is always better than no meeting

Always remember your focus: Get the meeting. A booked meeting, even if weeks or more than a month out, is better than no meeting. If the client is struggling to get through their month or their new reality, don't feel this needs to be a rushed process. When things settle into a new normal, that will be the perfect time to meet. We want our clients to be focused on our solutions not on just meeting us for meeting's sake.

Check out the full infographic here, and when you're ready to Sell More. Faster. join us for our next cohort of KO Sales U.

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