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Crisis Management – Don't Sit On The Sidelines

Much of the world has practically shut down; countless people have been laid-off, customers are no longer spending money, your sales have declined rapidly. This crisis happened so quickly that you are frozen like a deer in the headlights. You do not know what to do next. So, you do nothing, that is safe, right? You cannot make anything worse if you just stand still correct? Wrong. Here is what you can do instead of sitting on the sidelines during a crisis.

Reach Out With Purpose

Reaching out allows your customers to feel valued and appreciated. It also builds trust and a better understanding of their needs, which allows you to suggest another product that might be able to help them. Most companies are taking that approach.  But a call where the salesperson "just checks-in" provides little to no value to the customer. Instead, good salespeople are sharing information that they are hearing about what other companies are doing to handle the crisis. They are offering ideas, resources, articles, and solutions that may be useful to their clients. By providing something like an article, potential solutions or an educational tool, you are becoming a valued resource, not just a vendor.

The CEOs and Executives of most companies are starving for more information that they can use to make critical decisions. That is where you get to step in and provide something useful.

Mix Up Your Messaging

All your customers are facing new problems, just like you. It's time to change your messaging to better meet their needs.

One way to change your messaging is to address the new problems your prospects are facing by looking outside of your "usual" wheelhouse. It is important to remember that the same message that has worked well in the past may or may not resonate in today’s everchanging world.  For example, you may have pitched your solution to improve efficiency.  That may still be important, but now your customers and prospects may be more concerned about preserving cash. Day-to-day actions have been flipped upside down during this crisis, so trying something new could produce new results.  This can work really well with "hard-to-reach" customers, who are facing different problems now too. They may be more willing to listen to you if you can provide something of value to them.

Another way you can change your messaging is to focus on the 80/20 rule. By making 80% of your content genuinely valuable without any sales pitch, your customers are much more likely to pay attention. That means when you sell your product or service the other 20% of the time, your customers will be more receptive. Give them something they can use.

Unique Solutions

Again, sitting on the sidelines and waiting out the economic downturn won't get you very far; however, you can reshape your solutions to meet more of your customer's needs. Every customer out there is looking for answers to their problems. Each feels their issues are unique to them. Now is the time to anticipate those problems and proactively go to them with potential solutions. You can let them know you are willing to go the extra mile and shape your solution to meet their specific challenges. Personalization is centered around the idea of tailoring a user's experience for them.

If customers can get the exact item or service, they want from you, they will mostly come back again. According to Instapage, "44% of consumers say that they will likely become repeat buyers after a personalized shopping experience with a particular company." Offering personalization or customized solutions that are specific to your customers sets you apart from your competitors.

Differentiation

The purpose of defining your differentiators is to build and hold value with your customers. During times of crisis, you must stand out from your competition. If you don't distinguish yourself, then your customers have no reason to believe you have something better to offer them.

There are three areas you can position yourself with your customers:

  • Customer Intimacy - offer products or services that adapt to their customers' exact needs and values.
  • Product Leadership - offer products that feature new methods that are advanced and original.
  • Operational Excellence – offer affordable products or services that are within most customers' budgets – which is critical to many businesses right now.

Your sales team needs to understand which of these three approaches is most relevant to your company. You can't be everything to everybody. The temptation is to compete on price, but you can win with better products or more custom solutions as well.  

Once you know how your product or service is different, you'll work with your sales team to define the proper messaging. A few tips to use for your differentiation messaging:

  • Ask questions to see if your positioning is important to them vs. merely telling them why you're great.
  • Explain how your differentiator will help your customer’s business – connect the dots from your solution to their need.
  • Find your customer's personal wins – people buy on emotion, not logic.  Figure out how to tap into their emotions by finding out what’s in it for them.

If you want more information on differentiation, please check out our blog on, "Differentiation – Do You Know What Yours Is?"

Create a Proactive Sales Strategy

The initial impact of a crisis causes many businesses to focus a lot of their attention on finances and operation, leaving sales to fend for themselves. The result is that the sales team does not have great guidance as to what they should do. It is leadership's role to answer questions such as:

  • What should their strategy and messaging be for current customers that want to reduce or cancel?
  • Where should they re-direct their focus to generate new business?
  • How can you generate an accurate forecast of revenue?
  • What changes does your field team need to make to work remotely?
  • How do I know if my adjustments are working?

Pivotal Advisors has developed a program to address these questions. They will help you assess your current situation, then support you in creating and implementing key changes to your sales strategy to help you recover from any negative sales impact. The estimated plan will be implemented in under three weeks, and they will work with you to monitor results and adjust. In the end, you will have:

  • Existing and new customer strategies including revised messaging and weekly sales plans for each salesperson
  • Clear communication cadence and expectations so the sales team can execute more effectively
  • Increased forecast frequency and accuracy so you can make better decisions
  • Feedback systems and metrics to understand what is working so you can adjust

If you want more information on how to get back on track, please inquire here.

Sitting back and doing nothing is not the key to "fixing" things during a crisis. You need to be purposeful in reaching out to your customers, changing your messaging, reshaping your solutions, and positioning yourself from your competition. If you are still frozen, then you'll want to reach out to Pivotal Advisors to get you started on the road to recovery.

About Gary Braun

Gary is a founder and co-owner of Pivotal Advisors. He has worked for 20+ years as a salesperson and sales leader. Gary has been a guest speaker for many groups such as Vistage, Allied Executives, CEO Roundtable, Sales Management Association, and more. If you want to find out more about Gary check out his profile here.
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