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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Listen During Turmoil, Sell After

Listen During Turmoil, Sell After

My years of working in a blended role—as part seller and as part consultant—keeps me grounded and attached to the needs of sellers as well as customers and new business prospects.

Here’s some advice that I’m using in my sales role and passing along as a consultant: during this time of turmoil one of the most important things you can do is listen and demonstrate empathy. You will have plenty of time to sell in the future (post-turmoil). Also, if you listen closely enough, you will discover business needs unknown a couple of weeks ago.

We Were Born to Sell; We Live to Sell

Most people in sales roles are born with innate talents that enable us to sell. This can be a blessing and a curse. World-class sellers know when to sell is as important, if not, more important than knowing how to sell or what to sell. Pitchmen (or women) who are constantly selling tend to annoy customers who are not ready to buy. Currently, many customers are in a state of turmoil and not ready to buy. Simply put, it is not the time to be pitchman (or woman), it's time to be a listener.

During this state of turmoil, virtually every business sector developed a list of things to do during the current market conditions

Here’s an example from my 401k provider:

4 Strategies to Navigate a Stock Market Downturn

1. Stay Focused

Take a deep breath and know that ups and downs are a natural part of investing. Remember, after periods of downturns, there will always be a recovery.

2. Stay Invested

As you see your investments decline, it's natural to want to cash out and "cut your losses." Panicking would lock in your investment loss.

3. Stay Prepared

Asset allocation is one of the most important decisions you can make in your retirement planning. It's important to review your investments to ensure they are in line with your risk tolerance.

4. Stay Diversified

Be sure to monitor your plan investments against your desired asset allocation. As a result of stock market changes, your investment holdings may increase or decrease at different rates, causing your original allocation to change over time.

Enhance the Sales Process with The Right Type of Information

There has been a lot of this type of information pushed out in the past week. Some provide valuable information and other information is simply over-the-top sales pitches. One rule of thumb to follow is to never share this kind of information (propaganda) until you talk with customers and listen!

Used properly—and at the right time—this type of information can enhance the sales process. Not used at all OR used at the wrong time, and both are potential ways to annoy clients and derail future sales.

Sales Tips to Use During Economic Turmoil

How to listen (part one)

  • Make this a priority during the turmoil stage
  • Show concern and ask open-ended questions
  • Take notes—you might uncover some needs along with the other information they feel the need to tell you
  • Resist the urge to sell (today), even if there are buying signals
  • Just listen and let them know you feel their pain and understand things from their “think like an owner” perspective

How to Listen (part two) + When to Sell

  • Test to see if the client has emerged from the turmoil stage. Ask if they are open to possible solutions to the problems mentioned (when you were listening)
  • If they are ready, proceed to the section below
  • If not, let them know you heard them (review some of the needs), and you will proceed when they are ready

How to Determine an Assignment (this will help you figure out what to sell)

  • Summarize the desired business results you uncovered so far
  • Ask if anything is missing from the list
  • Ask the client to prioritize the list. Which is most important and most urgent? Focus on an essential business result you have the capabilities to address
  • Test the emerging “Assignment” by asking questions about already-existing plans, potential spending to solve the problem, and how soon the prospect wants to see potential solutions
  • Agree on one or more assignment(s) the prospect wants help with and you will work together on

What to Sell

Build your proposal based on their needs (desired business results) and your products and services. Proposals like these close easily and often.

Follow this process and you might discover you don’t need the things to do during the current market conditions information your company has created.

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Topics: sales cycle active listening