Should You Stop Selling During This Crisis?

There is an ongoing conversation on the social channels as to whether one should continue selling through a crisis. Some suggest selling during times like this is to be tone-deaf, that it ignores the nature of our global emergency. Like most things, there is some truth to the idea that business-as-usual, ignoring the severity of the circumstances, may make one appear to be self-oriented.

If you believe that is true, then you also have to recognize the opposite view. The opposing view is that it is not business-as-usual, recognizing the severity of our collective challenge and working to help our clients and prospects. Many of these need even more help with their businesses.

The Nature of Our Crisis

Before this crisis began in the United States, there was nothing fundamentally wrong with our economy. It had been humming along nicely for a decade after the Great Recession. Our banks were not undercapitalized. We had not over-built houses; in fact, we have too few houses, in large part due to the tight labor market we’ve enjoyed over the past years. We haven’t provided ninja loans (no income, no job, no assets) to people who had no way to afford a home.

Until the crisis reached our shores, the stock market valued the companies at numbers that are trillions of dollars more than their present value, even though the underlying fundamentals for most companies haven’t changed. Apple, for example, is going to have a rough quarter or two. Assuming that is true, ninety-five percent of people who own an iPhone will buy another iPhone, not something that would cause one to believe they’ve lost value.

The nature of our crisis is a virus. Our leaders have, wisely, I would argue, decided to sacrifice the economy to save human lives, rightly believing that we can rebuild the economy, but we cannot bring back those who we lose to this maleficent infection that spreads like lightning, preying on the most vulnerable. This brings us to the point of how we might behave as salespeople and sales organizations.

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What Does It Mean to Sell?

If you believe that selling is something that you do to someone, for your benefit, and at their expense, you are holding on to a belief about sales that hasn’t been true for a very long time.

I would offer you the personal philosophy that selling is not something that you are doing to someone. It is something you are doing for someone and with someone and for their benefit.

The estimates on our economy suggest that the United States could shrink by some number between five-percent (an outrageously low figure) and twenty-five percent (a shockingly high and frightening number), the result of the measures we are taking to win the war against an invisible and pernicious foe. While we can all guess how profound this recession is going to be, the truth is, whatever the number, your clients and your prospects are going to need help rebuilding.

There are companies right now who need help acquiring the things they need to keep their operations running, something we have deemed “essential businesses.” The economy is going to shrink, but it isn’t going to come to a complete stop, nor should we allow that to happen. Which returns us to a question we must answer, “Can I help people turn their business around faster?”

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What Difference Will You Make?

In The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need, I wrote that we sell “outcomes,” not products, services, or solutions. Maybe what you sell will help your clients and prospects generate more revenue or improve their profitability. It could be that what you sell to your clients or dream clients will reduce their overall cost structure freeing up capital to use in other areas of their business. Maybe you can improve their outcomes by giving them more attention, reducing the amount of time they have to spend on something that isn’t their core business.

I have often likened the idea that one should not interrupt their contacts with the idea that a salesperson is a world-class swimmer and lifeguard who walks by a person drowning, refusing to help them because they are busy drowning. If people are drowning, if they are struggling, it is a lack of caring, compassion, and concern to ignore them when your help would change their fortunes.

Business as Unusual

If what you have will help your clients and prospective clients improve their circumstances as they struggle to find their way forward, you are obligated to try to help them to the best of your ability. The idea that people are going to need less help in what is sure to be an incredibly difficult time is incorrect; they will need even more support.

However, if what you sell is of no benefit to the people you are calling on, then you are going to have to shift your time and attention to people who need what you sell. You should not distract or bother people if what you sell doesn’t improve their position in some meaningful way, but this is true in good times and in bad. .

It is still early days. Things are going to get worse before they get better. The time it takes to climb out of the economic hole we are digging is going to be determined by how fast we recover from the emotional and psychological damage we are suffering through now and will be for some time into the future.

One of the worst decisions we might make is to wait until things are better to get back to work when the only way to make things better is to get back to work and sooner rather than later. While our government and our health care professionals are taking care of the health crisis, those of us who can need to do our part to limit and minimize the damage of the economic crisis.

Selling is something you do for someone and with someone and for their benefit. In this case, what you do now will help all of us on the other side of this nightmare.

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Filed under: Mindset

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