Times are uncertain for outside sales teams, but the future doesn’t need to be.
As Coronavirus fears continue to mount and governments take increased action to protect their citizens, it can feel as though one giant door has been slammed in the face of outside sales teams. In one sense, this is a completely new situation for nearly everyone and it’s hard to know how to move forward. But in another sense, this isn’t a new situation at all. We’ve faced rejection before.
A lot of us have a certain sense of pride over the amount of doors slammed in our faces, because it shows the amount of dedication and perseverance we have developed in our profession. It’s basically a sales initiation to have doors slam, phones hang up, appointments dodge, and then keep on trucking anyway.
Yes, Coronavirus is a bigger obstacle than we’re used to encountering in our normal day-to-day life. Companies are understandably concerned about the state of things and wondering what the future looks like. And it may feel like the type of opportunities we’re used to just aren’t available right now. But the same perseverance and ingenuity that has helped us through closed doors in the past can help us through this one.
As Alexander Graham Bell said, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
Here are some tips and examples from companies that are finding new open doors and taking advantage of new opportunities:
Remember, the Demand is Still There. (And Possibly Growing)
You might be surprised (and encouraged) to hear that some of our clients have been having their best weeks ever these last few weeks. Some of them attribute it to the fact that so many people are home.
Of course, canvassing efforts have shut down in a lot of areas, but it’s reassuring to know that the demand for your products/services is still there.
In fact, a lot of industries can pivot well with current circumstances and maybe even see an uptick in demand. For example, a lot of people have an increased desire for lower bills and energy independence, which solar companies should use to their benefit. As times get uncertain, people want more security. In the age of quarantine, they want higher-quality television.
In some cases, the services you offer might be in higher demand because they’re more socially responsible in times of social distancing. One of our clients delivers farm-fresh food, and they’ve had a great few weeks because it’s much safer to have groceries delivered than to go to the store.
In times of uncertainty, remember that you still have a market. It may not be the market you’re used to, and you might have to find creative ways to reach it, but this virus has not completely wiped out any opportunity for your company.
Show Concern and Consideration
To be clear, we’re not encouraging canvassing if it interferes with government mandates or goes against common sense. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms, be socially responsible and stay home. Be considerate of others and look for other ways to contact prospects.
Some companies, though, have decided to keep canvassing and be as safe as possible. One sales manager reported that he’s having his reps go out with a few new accessories: latex gloves and a bottle of hand sanitizer that they wear around their necks. He also requires the reps to stand at least 6 ft from the door and be as considerate as possible when interacting with prospects.
He also emphasized that they give their prospects a lot of options when it comes to progressing the sale. They offer to send digital information, including an appointment for a Zoom or Skype call, if that would make the prospect feel more safe. Reps are finding that providing options and being sincere in their concern for their prospects has actually resulted in more appointments and a higher respect for their brand than they were experiencing previously. People are cooped up, and sometimes even a visit from a respectful stranger is appreciated.
For some people, however, their normal sales process just isn’t an option. Some adaptation will be necessary, and that’s probably intimidating.
There is some comfort in knowing that people have been here before, and they’ll be here again. Difficult situations are the soil for some of our most crucial innovations. 9/11 was a huge crisis in America, but it accelerated some of our biggest industries. Banks started to make the transition to online banking because it was more secure than transporting paper. Social media and camera phones exploded as people took more pictures and shared more of their lives. Engineers made huge strides in improving office safety, and the new One World Trade Center is one of the most secure buildings ever constructed. All these things are much better than they were because they were forced to change.
Sales teams are learning to adapt now, too. One sales leader told Forbes: “This is a huge opportunity for us. The silver lining is the opportunity to try new things with our clients without the risk. We don’t have to be the bad guy. What new things have we always wanted to try? We are very well intentioned; it’s just that our clients have resisted some things we have wanted to do to serve them differently, and now they’re open to new ways. Sending a team to a client costs us $10,000 to $12,000 in travel. For $400, we can send the participants an iPad to their home. We have a unique window here.”
Different companies will need to find their own creative adaptations, but here are some options we’re seeing from some of our successful clients:
- Zoom meetings – It’s more than likely that you’ve had video calls with your teammates, partners, etc, so try working them into your sales process. You can move previous appointments online, try and set up appointments with old leads, or set up a scheduler on your website for those who are coming across your page organically.
- DataGrid info – Our DataGrid will provide you with homeowner information that you can use to create strategic mailer campaigns or drop off flyers, product samples, etc. Try and direct any interest towards your online meetings or website.
- Boost – Boost is the perfect resource for this type of situation. It allows you to send digital ads to web-connected devices that you can target by address. That means you can select specific neighborhoods or buildings and send your ads to every phone, TV, or computer in the area. All those people are sitting at home on their devices. Take advantage.
Overall, we know it’s a tough time. But we’re also confident that things will improve and that people will be better off for having adapted and endured. We hope some of these tips will help you to move forward and find success.