How small businesses can sell during a crisis

How small businesses can sell during a crisis

April 9, 2020 10:27 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Panic affects profits. We all know this and yes your customers are probably beginning to panic-buy pasta, tins of beans, deodorant and dog food from Waitrose but it’s okay. This is the volatile world we now live in – it’s challenging but change is easy if you think about it in the right way!

Uncertainty like this makes people more cautious. Now is the time to be thinking more creatively about how to serve your clients.

If most of your work is face to face training workshops, you can use this opportunity to see if you can digitise them in some way. That’s what I’m doing. Seriously my loom.com account is now booming with training videos I’m sending out to clients and my Zoom calls have tripled, probably quadrupled since lockdown. It’s not my favourite way to work but it’s manageable. I’m genuinely thinking this could become a new revenue stream where people just pay for access to the videos and crack on themselves if they don’t need 1 to 1 training in the future.

You just have to be there for your clients at times like these, let them know you’re not going to let them down…and if you think you might due to things outside of your control, just be open and honest about the risks and the possibility of delays so everyone’s got a heads up.

As my Grandma used to say “If Plan A doesn’t work, there’s Plan B…and Plan C and all the other letters of the alphabet.”

More than ever customers need peace of mind, and whatever guarantees you can give them. Don’t let the fear of Coronavirus or the prophecy of Coronavirus creating an economic recession stop you from contacting people. Now is the time to be having conversations about how you can be dynamic in the way you serve people.

I’m supposed to be running a “living and leading in a changing world” conference in June with about 50 people coming and you know what we may have to cancel it. That’s going to suck because so many people have sunk so much time and effort into it, but I’m already thinking of ways to digitise the experience so that doesn’t cost the earth. So whatever happens that’s progress because it means I can potentially open the conference up to people overseas next year either way … Covid19 has created that opportunity to think differently.

How To Sell During The Coronavirus Crisis

In general, you should be making as many proactive phone calls as possible.

Coronavirus gives the perfect opportunity to take time to deepen your relationships

Here are 4 steps to get you moving in the right direction if you’re not sure where to start:

1. Give all of your clients a personal call. Find out how things are. Ask if there’s anything else you can do to help.

2. Call all the people who have referred business to you. Ask them how things are going. Try to learn more about their current activities so you can refer business to them.

3. List 50 people to stay in touch with. Include anyone who has given you business in the last 12 months (from steps 1 and 2) as well as any other prospects you’ve connected with recently. Think of something small you could do to help them or call them and ask them how you can help. Be warned you may end up spending fifteen minutes reviewing a virtual tour to see if it’s age-appropriate for 7 year olds and buying yeast from Tesco so someone can fulfil their desire to make bread. (Or at least that’s what happened to me recently)

4. The magic is always in the follow up. Two weeks later call them and see what’s going on. If the contact is a former client or just someone you’ve talked to before, now might be the perfect time to ask for a referral. If it’s a prospect you’re calling, perhaps you can set up an appointment to have a virtual coffee and find out if their plans might include using your services later on.

It’s not about selling, it’s about connection.

We are managing in situations of strategic ambiguity on an unprecedented scale. I get that. It can feel like slogging through mud. Leaders avoid investments. Decisions are deferred. Resources are frozen. Fear, uncertainty, & doubt drive bad behaviour & personal agendas. But when people say “I can’t do X because of Covid19” It’s often a cop-out…it’s just fear talking. Even in the most challenging & ambiguous of situations, you can put yourself in a position to succeed when you take pragmatic action whilst demonstrating emotional steadiness & draw on the expertise of others. Your network can help you build visibility, connect you with others & open up doors for new opportunities. Building & nurturing a network is one of the most powerful things you can do right now because it creates a collection of people who are willing and able to speak for you on an ongoing basis. In times of crisis, it’s easy to help people, and empathise because we’re all feeling a bit vulnerable & scared. So make time to deepen your relationships with people

Remember some people may not be ready to buy today, but they will jump in with both feet once this whole Coronavirus dies down…which it will eventually.

People will forget what you said, they’ll forget what you did, they’ll never forget how you made them feel. They will remember who was there for them during difficult times, they’ll remember that you cared and they will reward you with business or referrals at some point.

 

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This post was written by Emma-Louise Munro Wilson

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