In recent years, we have prioritised speaking to the thousands of salespeople that make up our audience at Flume. It is not hyperbole to say that the crises that have emerged, one after the other, feel unprecedented in recent times and they have certainly left their mark on sales.
With each crisis or upheaval, our audience is left asking the same question: “Everything’s changed. I can’t sell what I normally sell. What should I be selling instead?”
In this post I want to explain why this is the wrong question to be asking and to recommend an alternative, more impactful approach.
“What should I be selling?” doesn’t work because of a sales challenge that’s been around for a long time – a challenge that is accentuated in times of great change.
The challenge is that clients have never been particularly interested in what we sell. Not least because, for them, everything sounds the same.
In fact, according to the CEB, 86% of buyers don’t see a big enough difference between what you’re selling and what your closest competitor is selling to pay a premium or to advocate for it.
What they have always cared about is finding solutions to the problems that they’re facing. Arguably, that is way more important today than it’s ever been.
How to sell in a crisis
Here’s a three-step process you can follow to stand out, ask the right questions and deliver what clients need:
- State your purpose as a brand, account manager or salespeople. Your purpose right now could be helping them get through this current situation and come out the other side in as strong a position as possible.
- Understand where they want to get to. Have an open conversation and double down on understanding exactly what they need to achieve. Push their horizon back and concentrate on where they want to be as they come out of this current situation.
- Co-create a recommendation. Look at your product suite and decide which is going to be most effective at getting the customer to where they need to get to. If you don’t have the right products, now is the time to move with pace, be innovative and add those products that are going to work for the customer.
“What should I be selling right now?” is an understandable question for salespeople to be asking now but it’s not where we should start.
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