Keep it Simple: How to Revamp Your Sales Approach for Unusual Times

Selling through COVID-19 is a tricky proposition, operating models are upended, businesses are closed, individuals are (rightfully) preoccupied with job security, homeschooling and taking care of loved ones. Even with all this uncertainty, as salespeople we have an opportunity to make important connections with a simple makeover. By definition, a makeover enhances who you are and highlights your authenticity. 

Like with any good renovation, the key is to keep things simple​ and authentic​. ​Whether you are a seasoned sales professional or charting your first deal, these sales tips work well in good or unpredictable times. 

Keeping things simple means having patience and discipline. While the environment is in flux, create notifications for yourself to stay abreast of your prospects, this will enable you to cover all bases in this virtual office world. 

To achieve authenticity, you have to be honest with yourself and your offering. Consider these key questions: 

  • What problem are you solving? 
  • Does this problem still exist? 
  • Are there other solutions you should be exploring? 

In these times, everyone is craving connections and relationships. Adding value is one way to build a strong foundation for long-lasting client relationships. 

Here are a few simple tips to help you renovate your sales approach:

  • Set alerts on Google and Crunchbase about clients/prospects. This is especially helpful now, as so many industries are experiencing disruptive change. In some sectors the change is creating exponential growth; in other verticals, things are not looking rosy (i.e. travel and hospitality). In some cases, businesses within large corporate conglomerates are experiencing different outcomes, some are thriving, while others are contracting. Using tools like Google alerts and Crunchbase can help you get a macro and micro view of your top prospects. 
  • Ask to meet for a 20-minute call. The time continuum is wacky right now. Meetings that last a full 30 or 60 minutes are exhausting, ask for 20 minutes instead. And don’t expect much. Start the call with genuine interest in how your client is doing and ask informed questions about their business. 
  • Thank the client. Regardless of if they say no, yes, if they take a meeting, and, especially if they decide to move forward with your product or services, always say thank you. I recently ordered from a small restaurant and as a thank you for ordering take out, they sent a bottle of wine. A small business exceeded expectations during a pandemic by thanking us with a bottle of wine. Simple, delightful and impactful. What surprise and delight item makes sense for your business? 

And here are a few ways to up the authenticity of your interactions:

  • Get curious. Read/watch/listen to industry news, websites, publications, podcasts and general business coverage. During this time especially, great content and interviews with wise senior leaders are being shared daily. I had the opportunity to listen to an interview with Meg Whitman, Sir Martin Sorrel and Kenneth Chenault in the past few weeks. This is an excellent way to learn about your industry and other sectors, and may help you connect dots that weren’t already obvious. I am often inspired by ideas, partnerships or programs from one industry that can be applicable in other verticals. 
  • Use content to be top of mind and keep communication open. Prospects or current clients may not write back, but that’s OK. Keep a regular cadence of outreach and offer a link to helpful information, resources, a good article, or even some comic relief. 

These are unprecedented times, but that also means it’s more important now than ever to dig in and do the work necessary to set yourself up for sales success. Like any good makeover, the result is a better, sharper, crisper you. 

Lisa Scotto is currently SVP, Strategic Partnerships for the 4A’s.  Her focus Includes business acquisition efforts, driving valuable partnership engagements and curating content.  She has spent much of her career at The Walt Disney Company, and has held positions at the World Economic Forum, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Crain Communications. Expertise includes leading acquisition efforts, creating new revenue models, sales enablement and solving complex business problems. Outside of the (home) office Lisa is a member of Chief and has a seat on the board of the American Tap Dance Foundation.

  • Originally published August 12, 2020