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Prospecting in a Pandemic: 4 Best Practices for Sales Professionals

How to pivot successfully while staying top-of-mind

The global pandemic has led many professionals to reevaluate their go-to business strategies, and salespeople are no exception. 

Is it wrong to keep prospecting amid the ambiguity? Are there ways to move forward with  “business as usual” while remaining sensitive to the delicate situation at hand? 

Andrea Sittig-Rolf, Corporate Sales Expert and CEO of BlitzMasters, shares the key factors for sales professionals to consider and best practices for pivoting successfully. 

1. Connection is key.

Conflicted on whether to make sales calls during these challenging circumstances? The answer ultimately comes down to the problem you’re solving. 

“It’s only okay if you can connect your service or product to solving a problem that your prospect is facing right now because of the virus,” explains Sittig-Rolf. “If what you are selling can truly help them, go for it.” 

So if you can provide timely support, frame the conversation around the prospect’s contingency plans and any specific challenges they’re facing.

“Find out how your prospect is being impacted by inviting them to talk with you about their struggles,” says Sittig-Rolf. “Be vulnerable yourself and share your own story too.”

Additionally, it’s important to soften your language and the way you position the discussion. For instance, Sittig-Rolf recommends shifting “an opportunity to work together,” to “an opportunity for us to help.” 

2. Stay top-of-mind.

Unable to connect your solution to a crisis-specific challenge? It’s time to pivot from selling your service or product to building and nurturing future relationships.

In these cases, Sittig-Rolf suggests turning your sales call into a check-in call by simply asking the prospect how they’re holding up during these unpredictable times. Be sure to remain attentive, genuine, and empathetic throughout the conversation.

When feasible, Sittig-Rolf also recommends offering free consulting services or resources for a limited time as a source of extra support. This will ensure that you stay top-of-mind as somebody who provided value. 

“In the spirit of genuinely being helpful without expectation of something in return, prospects will remember you and your efforts when things return to normal,” says Sittig-Rolf.

3. Adjust your offerings accordingly.

To stay relevant to prospects throughout the chaos, craft your solutions around their key priorities. 

“Focus on the prospect first,” says Sittig-Rolf. “Consider how you can customize your current offerings to provide what your prospects need now or in the immediate future.”

So if your company offers multiple products, reevaluate your product of focus and its relevance. Does it speak to a specific problem that your market is facing due to the crisis, such as maintaining business continuity or adjusting to a remote work environment? If the answer is no, shift your priorities toward solutions that better address these challenges. 

As you speak with prospects about their biggest barriers, note any commonalities and consider offering additional services as needed.

4. Treat prospecting as helping – not selling. 

Still stressed about receiving potentially negative responses to your prospecting efforts?

Selling aside, Sittig-Rolf recommends reminding yourself that prospects are also people. And since they are craving human connections just like the rest of us, it’s likely that they will be increasingly receptive to chatting and remain engaged throughout the conversation. 

Changing your outlook can also help you fixate less on the timing and more on the big picture. 

“Think of prospecting as helping rather than selling,” says Sittig-Rolf. “This new mindset will help you realize there is no shame in prospecting right now, because your prospects need you!”

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