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Selling and SERVING customers during times of crisis (COVID-19)
15 March 2020

As Sellers, How Do We Serve Our Customers in These Times of Crisis?

If you’re feeling like the world has turned upside down, or that we’re living inside an episode of The Twilight Zone, you’re not alone.

Every day of these past few weeks has brought new, strange, and scary uncertainty with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic that is running rampant worldwide.

We’re not only facing a health crisis, but the financial fallout will be its own crisis for many months to come.

I’m no economist but the sinking stock market, the shutdown of schools, cancellation of concerts and ALL sporting events, and “social distancing” practices, are going to hit businesses and, hourly wage employees hard.

I think that times of crisis are when you get to see the best and, unfortunately, sometimes, the worst in people.

The “good” is heartwarming and inspiring. My social media news feed is filled with people offering up food and (yes!) toilet paper to their neighbors, donations to food banks are increasing, NBA players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zion Williamson and Blake Griffin helping cover salaries for arena personnel while the doors are closed, and the CEO of ZOOM has made the video platform available to K-12 educators to use to engage students online.

And, the bad, well, there are always people that will try to profit or take advantage of fear and the unknown. Clever hackers are circulating fake stories and “maps” of the Coronavirus with their own virus embedded links. And these guys, brothers from Tennessee, who after hearing of the first COVID-19 death in the US, stockpiled nearly 18,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and started selling them on eBay and Amazon for huge markups of anywhere from $7 to $50. Thankfully, Amazon and eBay shut down their price gouging stores and now they’re stuck with their inventory.

Hopefully, they will grow a conscience and donate their hoard.

There will be many more virus pirates (or pandemic profiteers?) that will come but I firmly believe the good nature of humans will triumph and the positive, heartwarming, and inspiring stories of good people doing good will be what we highlight on the backside of this crisis.

I also believe that as sellers, we can and should be included in those good stories.

Our philosophy of selling is that “selling is a service” to your clients. Our role as sales professionals is to help our customers make decisions and provide value through their buying process.

Right now, we need to stay true to the nature of service in selling and no, it’s not exactly altruistic. Helping your customers now builds stronger relationships that can help us later.

Here Are 10 Ways Sellers (and Businesses) Can Help Clients Now:

  • Set them up with video tools, such as Zoom, Vidyard, or Soapbox by Wistia – show them how to use them to carry on business or communicate with their customers
  • Highlight their good work on social media
  • Since most all conferences, trade shows, and large meetings are canceled or postponed, host a virtual event – bring their team together via video conference for learning or training
  • Extend or expand payment terms if their business is going to take a financial hit
  • Buy gift cards from local restaurants and stores (keeping cash flowing) and send to clients
  • For healthcare teams or first responders, send them lunch or drop off healthy snacks
  • Offer delivery or drop-off of products
  • Drop off hand sanitizer or anti-bacterial wipes (if you can find them)
  • ASK & LISTEN. Ask them how they’re doing, what they need. Stressed out people might just need to talk about their situation
  • If your customers are unable to go about their business or are largely impacted by the social distancing directives, make plans with them – via phone or video – as to how they will weather this storm (what’s relevant for your conversation: marketing, sales plans, cost savings, competitive advantage building, et cetera)

I know I’m trying to remain positive and hopeful about health, business, and well, HUMANITY, right now. To varying degrees, “what happens next” during this pandemic is pretty much all we’re thinking and talking about.

Take a step in a positive direction by being of service to your clients and customers.

Until next time, stop hoping and start SELLING!

-sks

PS – I’d love to hear YOUR ideas about how to help clients during this crisis. Share and share and we can all help each other.

PPS – SPECIAL OFFER – if you would like to learn how to use video to engage your clients or to help your customers or sales team help their customers, reach out and contact us for training tools and guidance!

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