Sauga 960 Series – Sales: What to do during COVID-19

In our continuing Sauga 960 radio interview series, we examine sales and what to do during COVID-19.
Your Business, presented by David Wojcik, understands business. As the CEO/President of the Mississauga Board of Trade, he focuses on current commercial issues and how they affect entrepreneurs and key executives. 

Listen here:

David Wojcik:
With COVID-19 crushing sales meetings and the desire for business to engage in conversations, there is still a lot of work that can be done and calls that can be made. To help us with the discussion is Linda Kern. Linda is with the Kern Group, provides a sales growth process and its unique tools for driving sales results, empowering both sales managers and sales representatives to succeed. Linda ensures both parties are listened to, understood and aligned to meet their objectives and she joins us on the phone. Welcome Linda.

Linda Kern:
Thanks David. Happy to be here as always, kind of missing your mug though.

David Wojcik, Sauga960

David Wojcik:
Well that mug is made for radio so it’s probably best that it’s just sitting right where it is. Linda, this is a very unusual time for business people. I mean you and I have, we’ve been through a lot of downturns. We’ve been through Black Monday, we were through the crisis at 9/11, certainly the crash in 2007, 2008 and we’ve seen markets and situations go soft and dark. But this one has been really unusual and a lot of salespeople and sales managers are wondering, what do I do? Nobody wants to talk to me, nobody wants to buy anything right now because everybody was so apprehensive. So what are some of the things that salespeople can be doing in this time of, we’ll call it, purgatory?

Linda Kern:
Yeah, that’s probably a good term for it. I think the first thing that I would address is the mindset. I mean, it’s an important component in any economy that everybody has a proper mindset, but the mindset for salespeople really needs to be that we are in the helping business. I have always believed that about sales. We are in the business, if we sell to other companies, we’re in the business of helping those companies to be better somehow, whether we are helping them to increase their employee retention or to reduce costs or increase their revenue or streamline systems. All of our solutions help our clients and customers to be better somehow. And so with that in mind, we need to determine in this environment who needs our help and how can we help them? So I’ll give a couple of examples.

Linda Kern:
Firstly, and I’m going to state some obvious things and I’m going to stay at them because I think sometimes you can’t see the things right in front of you. Many businesses in Ontario have been deemed essential services, essential businesses, and they’re still operating. So how can you help those companies? And some businesses not only are essential, but their businesses are actually booming. For example, I have a client in the cleaning business, their business is booming and therefore the supply chain to those companies is well. I’ve got another client who’s an IT company. They’ve been working very quickly and diligently and very busily helping their customers go help get their employees remote. And so they’ve been very busy. Of course the food, groceries and liquor store and the supply chain of that, those folks are really busy. So how do your products and services help those companies doing what they’re doing these days? And that would be one aspect of it David. If you want to jump in here or should I just keep going like you know I can?

David Wojcik:
What I was going to say is that you and I, we have this conversation each year around Christmas time when salespeople will say nobody wants to talk to me or over the summertime, nobody wants to talk to me, nobody wants to buy. But there’s always things that you can be doing on the preparatory side as well. And perhaps this is the time when normally we’re really busy and writing orders and booking sales, but this might be a good time to do some of that regrouping and preparatory work. What are some of the things that we can do?

This is Linda!

Linda Kern:
Yeah, no that’s a good consideration because like any other crisis, we’ve been through, this too shall pass. And that’s a battle cry that I live by all the time. And so we will come out of this and you need to be poised and ready for when we do come out of this. And so regroup a little bit. How have you done with your sales so far year to date prior to this all kind of hitting the fan? What is it that you need to adjust during this time? Maybe you need to reforecast but along with that, I’d say those of you that have the recurring revenue clients, reach out to those recurring revenue clients, how are they doing? What can you do to help them? I’ve been racking my brains with some of my clients to say, I’m here. You know my area of expertise, how can I help? What can I do? And I’m not going to send out a big bill. I’m going to do whatever I can with situations where all hands are on deck. It’s really just where can I help?

Linda Kern:
Because I’d say the other thing that you want to watch out for and marketing folks will attest to this is people are watching you, we’ve heard some stories of organizations that haven’t been good corporate citizens. And you want to be thinking about how you want to represent your brand, your company, your brand, your reputation. When we do come out of this, what will people be saying about you? How did you step up? What did you do to contribute? We are in a global community now more than ever. And we want to be thinking that way, not ripping off our customers and taking advantage of things. So it’s those types of things you want to be thinking about and planning for.

David Wojcik:
I always think of, this is a good time. Absolutely. Call your customers. And I think this would be a time when we need to put the email aside and pick up the phone and call your customer, even if you leave them a voicemail, just so they hear a human voice at this time. This is not about selling now. This is not about making proposals. This could be just a time to, as you say, reach out. What can I do to help you? Anything at all and give them some reassurance that you’re still in business, that you’re still around. The other thing I think about is perhaps on the administration side, this might be the time to update those price lists and do those proposals that you kept saying, if I only had a few moments, I would template this proposal. All of those things that you were on your wishlist, if I only had some extra time, because right now a lot of people have a little extra time.

Linda Kern:
Indeed. And my office has never been so tidy, so I’ve been tidying my office. Yeah, like it’s pretty amazing. All those things you always said you wanted to do. If you’re somebody in a business where you either write the blogs or have input into the blogs, now’s the time to get a few blogs in the bank because there’s … And by the way, if you’re blogging now blog, write things about today, like what’s happening today. People don’t want to hear generic stuff. They want to hear your response, your company’s response, your industry’s response to this and how you’re fairing. But yeah, you’re right. All those little things that, I love that idea about updating proposal templates or updating PowerPoints and again, I’ll emphasize David Wojcik because I think it’s important. Pick up the phone and even if it’s a voicemail, they want to know they’re watching, right? What is he or she doing during this time?

Linda Kern:
I haven’t heard from so and so for a while. It’s sort of like the old standard one was when a market drops, a lot of the investment advisors run and hide, when in fact you should do the opposite. You need to reach out, yeah really because we’re all stuck at home going squirrely and our investments are taking a massive hit. So get out there.

David Wojcik:
Also, our lists, our mailing lists and our call lists. And for those people who use automated tools, clean up those items may be in the unsubscribed list or find out why emails are bouncing back to you in your automated systems. This could be a good time to reach out and say, hey, I noticed that these things are bouncing back to me. Is there something I should know maybe? And clean up those lists. It’s a great time for maintenance and staying in touch so that you’re right, everybody will remember you on the other side of this. Linda, last piece of a sage-like advice from our sales guru.

Linda Kern:
So for the sanity of all of us, the thing that I’ve been doing a lot of lately and one of the companies I work very closely with, CEO Global Network, we are running a huge number of virtual meetings as a give back to our community. And so I say reach out to your community. If you’re a sales person and you know other folks in sales, whether they’re in your company or outside of your company, but friends of yours and put together Zoom calls where you can all see each other and you can all share thoughts, ideas, emotions.

Linda Kern:
There’s a huge emotional impact to what’s happening. People are anxious and nervous and stressful. And so reach out to peers, set up those hour calls, maybe have somebody sort of facilitate, just have, okay, how about you? What are you doing? What are you doing? Because this peer group organization that I’m working with is doing a number of these and I can see the look on people’s faces on a Zoom call, that they’re just happy to be with peers. They’re just happy to be learning best practices. And they’re just happy to see that other people, they’re not alone because you’re not alone. We are in this together.

David Wojcik:
And if people want to see more and learn more about the Kern Group, what’s the website?

Linda Kern:
www.thekerngroupinc.com, and Kern is spelled K-E-R-N.

David Wojcik:
Linda Kern with the Kern Group, thanks for so much for being with us, Linda.

Linda Kern:
As always, my pleasure David Wojcik. Hope to see you soon.

David Wojcik:
You bet.

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