In one of our recent webinars, Chris Davies at Sandler Training gave a powerful and motivating talk about how businesses can increase their prospect pipeline. Coronavirus has of course shaken businesses to their core, but as Chris argues, now is not the time to sit back and wait for people to be ready to start buying again.
Chris opened the webinar by presenting the idea that many business owners right now will be battling “head trash” - the self-defeating thought patterns and emotional tendencies that stand between people and success.
If any of these thoughts have crossed your mind, you’re not alone;
- “It’s distasteful to sell when businesses are suffering”
- “Customers don’t want to know, the last thing they are doing now is buying something”
- “They will call me when things get better”
As Chris explains, we all must recognise the situation that both ourselves as business owners and our prospects are in today, and for the foreseeable future. But that there are things we must try to do to keep our sales engines alive and running.
“If you want to stand still and wait, well, you can, but it's just like standing still in a flowing river, you are actually going backwards. If you sit and wait, you’ll just allow the competition to get out of this situation and start the recovery ahead of you.”
Chris shared his top tips for how business owners can adopt a positive, can-do approach in these uncertain times - without being pushy or insensitive. Here are some of the key highlights.
Step 1: Remember - there will be another side
Chris reminds us that crisis is temporary and that there will be another side to this - just as there was with the dot-com boom in the late 1990s and the financial crash in 2008.
He stresses how important it is that companies don’t wait for things to start picking up before they spring into action. Companies need to be doing the lead generation now, while at the pit of the curve, because that’s what will get you into recovery. It means not waiting until after the summer - because you can be sure your most credible competitors will beat you to it.
According to Chris, we should think about the traditional sales funnel as looking more like a champagne glass. You can force as much as you can to get people through that little thin flute, but the same quantity will come out. What you can do though, is focus on that top part of the glass. That’s something you can be in control of.
“Today, moving forward for growth, we can start looking at engaging early with our clients and having conversations with them which are natural and wide-ranging, with an empathetic view and understanding of the client, way before any of the benefits and features that we may be talking about on our side. In fact, we're not even talking about us, we just want to listen.”
Step 2: Adopt the right mindset
Finding the motivation to sell into recovery starts with our mindset and attitude. Chris encourages us to look at how we are feeling - are negative thoughts holding us back? Are we unable to show the same empathy we normally would? Are we standing still looking at our own feet? And is that coming across to our customers?
“You need to believe in what you’re doing. Otherwise, your performance is going to take a knock. So grab a pen and give yourself a score out of five for your commitments, your desire, the outlook you’ve got, the future growth, and the accountability that you’re taking for yourself. This is a great way to look at your mindset and figure out how you can come out of this and start prospecting.”
Step 3: Plan and prepare for new behaviours
The way we do business has changed - everything we used to do doesn’t work anymore. We’ve pressed pause on networking events, in-person calls, travel, event marketing and lunch meetings. The new behaviours we’ve adopted are video conferencing, social selling, cold calling and cold emailing, thought leadership, webinars and online events.
“We’ve got to engage with people, have a conversation with them and get them into the top of that champagne glass. Maybe there are things we’ve known all along but never shared in a blog, for example.”
Chris has polled just under fifty CEOs, MDs and business owners - and every single one of them believes that commercially, their businesses will not be returning to pre-Covid times. So it’s time to really get to grips with these new behaviours - because they aren’t going anywhere.
“Not only do we need to change our sales approach today, but it will also become the new future. We need to get to grips with the radical changes before our competitors do.”
Step 4: Start conversations
The next step, according to Chris, is to develop our techniques for this new world. What webinar opportunities could you create? What blogs could you be writing? And how can you connect with prospects directly at this time?
LinkedIn is a great way to connect with people in a relaxed and informal way. No selling, no pressure, just allowing for open conversations to start. Maybe when things change, those people will be willing to talk to you a bit more, knowing you’re not going to arm wrestle them to ground to get their business.
But if you’re going to do that, you need to think about how you speak to people and the questions you ask. The key is to listen to people, to show empathy, to share, and give for nothing.
Start your recovery now
Chris’s key message is to stop thinking about “crisis” and start thinking about “recovery”;
“If you're going to sell in a period of crisis, just change that title. Get out of selling in a crisis, and start to work and plan on selling into your recovery. The goal now is to come out into the recovery ahead of your competition. Because if you're coming out behind them, the buyers in your marketplace will be seeing them way before they'll be talking to you.”
To watch the webinar in full, click the link below:
Chris Davies is Managing Director at Sandler Training UK, a full-service professional development and training organisation. Their coaches have a long track record of delivering results for SMEs in Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes.
To find out more about Sandler Training, visit the website. Or get in touch with Chris via LinkedIn. Alternatively, you can check out the Sandler app for tips and guidance on leadership, sales and customer care. Click here to find out more.