The COVID The crisis has caused so many disturbances and insecurities for everyone in all areas of work and life. When talking to customers, it can be difficult to find the right balance between recognizing the crisis and focusing on business. Especially when customers' companies are affected by the crisis or when buyers are more reluctant to buy, it is important to know how to approach these customer discussions with compassion.
Sometimes it's okay to combine business and personal conversations with your customer conversations, especially in times of stress, grief, and insecurity. Here are some tips for better customer conversations during the coronavirus crisis.
COVID-19 has massively shifted everyone's priorities and daily life experiences. We've seen examples of this from every company in America and everyone on LinkedIn: everyone comments on the crisis and shares stories about how it affects their business. So don't assume that your sales conversations with customers need to be conducted solely for business. Start the conversation by asking the customer how he is doing and how he is dealing with the latest news. You don't have to be afraid to acknowledge the crisis we are all in.
Most customers will likely appreciate that you are open and willing to speak about a situation that we are all going through. In times of crisis, customers may be even more skeptical of sellers who don't recognize the bigger picture and bigger circumstances.
However, you do not have to deal with it. Don't spend the entire call talking about COVID-19. Try to keep the conversation light and optimistic. You might want to say things like, "Obviously, these are crazy times! How has it been with you and your company so far? “Or“ It's been a while since we talked. The situation was difficult, of course, but in the last month my company has started to go into a new normal and I would like to speak to you. How are you? ”
When you talk about the crisis in terms of a shared experience and a shared opponent, your customers can feel like they're on your side, as if you're both on the same team. You are not trying to sell them anything. They are trying to help them overcome a crisis that affects everyone on earth.
Every customer conversation must now put empathy in the foreground. Be more sensitive than ever to what your customers are going through. Be patient. Be compassionate. Be ready to just listen and sit on the phone with them for a minute – they may not be ready to buy, they may not have good news for you, they may not even be happy to hear from you.
Everyone has a lot of emotions right now. You may be calling customers who have had a family member die of COVID-19, who may have the virus themselves, or who are at higher risk. Your potential customer's company may have enjoyed great success and may have difficulty staying in business.
Whatever your customer is going through, be prepared to listen and show that you care – not just as a businessman, but as a person.
This crisis was so extensive and hit so many industries. Your customer conversations could be a good opportunity to share your own story. Of course not in a sad way, not in a "woe to me" tone, but only as another way to recognize the crisis and show your customers that they are not alone.
You may want to share your personal experiences with the customer during the crisis. Do you know someone who got infected? How does the crisis affect your immediate city or neighborhood? What concerns do you have for the industry you serve?
Of course, you answer these calls for business reasons and should still try to be confident and optimistic. However, it's okay to talk to your customers a little about how insecure the world can be, showing them your own human response to the crisis, while offering an optimistic vision of how your company can help them recover to rebuild and move forward in a better future.
B2B sellers help people more than ever. Your B2B buyers may be in an unprecedented crisis: they may have trouble staying in business, or may have recently had to part with some loved ones or a long-time vendor. They can also go through emotional turmoil and fear their own health and financial future.
Be ready to help. Think about how you can support your customers' business in a way that may not be directly relevant to your sales. Think beyond the immediate short-term transaction and build a longer-term relationship. Even if you can't sell to that customer today or later this year, try to start a business relationship that could take years.
The COVID-19 crisis will end at some point. But even at this moment of the crisis there are opportunities to help customers better and to conduct meaningful customer discussions. Don't be afraid to be vulnerable, be human, and listen with empathy. We are all going through this crisis together, and there are still many ways to connect with customers and help each other to be stronger than before.