I’ve been involved in a number of industry conversations lately around the topic of ‘selling during the pandemic.’ As the uncertainty grows, firms want/need to continue to sell, if only to maintain their business.
For many, however, the inclination is to be too proactive… that is ‘sell harder, sell faster.’ The reality is, though, that the opposite approach will have a much more positive impact.
If the companies you’re working with have slowed down – meaning their work with you has slowed down, too – no amount of ‘selling’ is going to help. The projects simply aren’t there to be done. So, all your selling efforts are doing is polarizing your clients… the exact opposite of what you want.
The smart approach to selling during the pandemic is to take a longer view… and sow seeds now so that when things get back to normal, it’s your firm that your clients think of for projects. And for that to work, your touchpoints should be ‘soft’… don’t try to sell them, but instead, be helpful, informative, caring, interesting, even entertaining.
When your clients experience those kinds of touchpoints, they might actually start looking forward to hearing from you. They know that what your sharing is relevant, non-salesy and might help them do their jobs better. Here are 9 soft touches to employ moving forward…
- Write an informative blog post and share it. But remember who you’re writing for… make sure what you’re writing about is a topic that your clients will care about and not just something that you’re interested in.
- If they’ve been a good client for a while, send them a handwritten ‘thank you’ note expressing your appreciation for their patronage… or better yet, send a tangible gift (a bottle of wine, flowers, etc.). Sending wine? Maybe you can schedule a ‘virtual happy hour’ with them!
- Post links to interesting content on your LinkedIn profile; look for and curate articles about the market research industry, about the industries you serve, profiles of key players, industry news, etc.
- Send them a personalized email… and just ask them how they’re doing and how they’re holding up with everything going on right now. Don’t even mention upcoming projects.
- Take a few minutes every day to reach out and connect with new contacts on LinkedIn. That way, when you post on your profile (see #3), they’ll see it and be reminded of you.
- Is your firm sending out a monthly enewsletter? If not, now’s the time to start. [Yes, your marketing team helps support selling during the pandemic.]
- Host a webinar and invite your clients and prospects to it. But remember, this is not an opportunity to sell, but rather, a chance to share and inform. The selling will come later.
- Engage on social media. Scroll through your LinkedIn feed… and as you come across posts from your clients, give them a ‘thumbs up.’ Better yet, where appropriate, post comments or feedback about their post. Again, when you do, they’ll be notified of your engagement.
- Share interesting content. If you’re browsing online and come across an article that you think one of your clients would find particularly interesting, simply copy the URL and send an email with a message like: “I came across this article this morning and thought you might find it interesting.” That’s it… simple, soft and helpful.
An important note: All of these activities are meant to achieve two objectives… 1) help you get to a top-of-mind position with your clients and prospects and then 2) stay there. As soon as you stop reaching out and reinforcing that top-of-mind position, rest assured that one of your competitors will slide in and displace you!
The key to success of selling during the pandemic is not to sell in the way you usually think of selling… but to focus on providing help and benefit to your clients. So, stay in touch – softly and frequently – over the next several months, and when your clients get back to business, they’ll bring you along.
Good luck and good marketing.
Responsible for selling at your firm? Join us this July for the Seller-Doer Workshop™, an online event developed specifically for researchers, project managers and business owners who have gotten ‘stuck’ with the responsibility of growing revenue… but don’t have the knowledge, skills or tools necessary to be successful at it. Learn more at www.SellerDoerWorkshop.com.