By Ben Jolin
“The Product Whisperer”
A few weeks ago, I was a successful B2B salesperson sitting at my desk at a great company, tracking for a pretty nice year. Today, I’m writing this from my dining room table, next to my noisy co-worker (a 5 year old), while connecting with my team on a Zoom conference. I know that I’m not alone. Millions of people are experiencing a level of unprecedented change in the workplace.
Many businesses are “pivoting” which is a graceful term for forced adaptation in a time of great crisis. Others, like the airlines, are hibernating until the economic winter begins to thaw. Unless you’re one of the well-positioned businesses that are thriving in these turbulent times you’re probably wondering “what’s next for me?”
I don’t feel like many businesses are sure how to engage with others right now. We’ve all received the cut-and-paste letters of concern and the ill-timed sales calls. In my humble opinion, these aren’t the most effective way to engage our clients. We need to talk frankly, we need to share, and we have to work together to thrive. Here are some of my suggestions.
Instead of sending out form emails, I’m reaching out to all my clients personally with insider perspective about my industry. Sharing what barriers we are facing as a promotional products team and proposing adaptations and work-arounds. Any information that might help your clients move forward and offer perspective from outside their industry is a valuable thing to share. In my case, I’m helping clients salvage their postponed gathering by initiating virtual events and focusing on local suppliers.
If you’re in sales you’re probably familiar with your clients and their business, but do you have any idea what their businesses look like now? What unexpected hurdles are they navigating, and where do they see things ending up (in days or months)? Many businesses aren’t thriving, but understanding their unique challenges will not only allow you to help them but maybe offer some insight in your own industry.
I love to sell but current economic conditions make this a challenge. Now is a time for us all to work together and interact on a human level. Avoid jargon, pitches, or hard selling and instead focus on maintaining your connections and fostering an honest and open dialogue. This will serve you and your clients in the months to come.
What will things look like when we can return to normal? No one knows for sure, but we’re all coming to the realization that we are all in this together. We are no longer just “clients”, “suppliers”, or even “competitors”. We are all human beings, trying to thrive in a time of fantastic and sudden upheaval.
What is your team doing to #BeHelpful?
Photo by Patrick Perkins via Unsplash