7 Things NOT to Do When Selling During Difficult Times
With the economy on wobbly ground, many salespeople are finding themselves in uncharted waters for the first time in their careers. Those who worked through the 2008 housing crisis and subsequent recession remember what it feels like to sell when times are tough, and many of them learned important lessons that they still carry to this day.
While it can be somewhat difficult to accept, selling during boom times is different than selling during challenging times. That’s not to say that things can’t change or improve quickly, or that some industries won’t continue to thrive even if others take a hit. But it is important to be cognizant of the world around us and to understand what to do (and what not to do) when things get tough.
A few weeks ago, we gave you some tips for how to sell when times got rough. Here, we’d like to cover a few things NOT to during difficult times:
1. Don’t assume anything
This bit of advice applies in “normal” times too, but it’s especially critical during times of uncertainty. Never assume a prospect can’t or won’t buy because of external (or any other) factors, but, on the flip side, don’t assume that they will buy because their situation remains unaffected. Go through the discovery process, ask questions, be empathetic, and don’t jump to conclusions without evidence.
2. Don’t use guilt to close deals
With all the heartbreak and emotional upheaval this situation has brought upon us, there will undoubtedly be opportunities to use guilt or fear in your favor. You should, however, resist the urge to do so, because manipulation is a poor way to conduct business, especially during difficult times. Stick with truth, empathy, and excellent communication, and leave the mind games for the less scrupulous.
3. Stop thinking short term
We have a tendency to look only at what’s in front of us, ignoring the big picture and forgetting that the moment we’re in is merely one small piece of a whole. Even though things seem daunting now, there will be better times ahead. Take a look at the big picture, and remember that your career spans years, not months. What you do now be eventually be something you can look back on and either be proud of, or want to forget.
4. Don’t turn inward
Many people prefer to hunker down when things get difficult, and instead of opening up, they turn inward. In sales, this is not the best option. It’s the perfect time to focus on outside relationships, namely ones with important clients and future prospects. People are hungry for social interaction, so it makes plenty of sense to deepen your bond with current and prospective customers. Instead of turning inward, turn outward.
5. Don’t ignore the solution
When you put everything else aside, salespeople are supposed to solve problems. We tend to forget this fundamental fact when we’re distracted by everything else that our job entails (not to mention all of the other craziness going on in the world ). Now, more than ever, it’s important to remember that your job is to provide a solution. This is what will get salespeople through the hump. Get back to the basics, stick to the fundamentals, and you’ll find that people still need their problems solved.
6. Don’t gaslight
Whatever your personal beliefs about the severity of the situation and whether or not the steps taken have been inadequate or have gone too far, you should never try to convince a prospect or client that they’re not seeing or feeling what they say they are. Everyone has their own point of view, and we all have life experiences which shape how we interact with the world. A great salesperson shows empathy, while a terrible salesperson uses gaslighting techniques to try to change a prospect’s mind.
7. Stop being so hard on yourself
While you should always set goals and push yourself to achieve them, also remember to practice gratitude and try not to be too hard on yourself. These are difficult and challenging times, and much of what’s happening is far beyond your control. Treat yourself kindly, try your best, and if you don’t achieve what you set out to, then get up the next day and try again. You have to live with yourself one way or the other, so make sure you’re kind to the person you have to look at in the mirror everyday.
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