Originally published by Orange Leaf Consulting on March 31, 2020
What weird and trying times we are in! I know people are afraid. Afraid of getting sick, losing money in their retirement, having enough to eat, being able to pay their mortgage, spending money. It’s times like this that we might be tempted to think: I can’t sell anything! But that’s not true. In fact, what if I told you that this is actually the perfect time to sell? What if I told you that there is a way to sell in times just like this? There is! It is called kindness.
Right now, businesses large and small are stepping up to the plate and helping humanity in creative ways. A lot of gyms are going virtual by hosting online do-it-at-home exercise classes and routines. Restaurants are doing online orders for curbside pickup. Another company is creating and uploading free tools for their customers to download and use. Some are hosting free webinars that were previously paid.
Others are offering meals for children or reading children’s books via video to give parents some relief. An international company I work with is holding its conference online, allowing for PPT and handout downloads and creating virtual networking spaces. Hollywood is even supporting emotional health with stars streaming concerts from their own home, or comedians sharing fun bits online.
Bottom line: People remember kindness.
Yes, life is different right now and it appears that it will be for a while. This is the new (ab)normal. So let’s use this time to keep you on track towards your big goals. I love a Netflix marathon as much as the next gal, but this is not the time for that. Your prospects need you. Your clients need you. Your community needs you. So lets help them.
Ok, so whose 2020 plan just flew out the window? Well, get it back! It’s not dead…it just needs a tweak on the course it is going to take! Ideally, you can use this time to do an annual review of your plan. And if you haven’t made a plan yet– what better time to do it?? A lot of businesses have Business Continuity Plans for moments just like this. So while you can’t plan for every contingency, you CAN plan for the new normal. Start with what you want further out from this pandemic. Do you want to grow your business? Pivot your career? Look three years out and work backward. Then commit to the things that you can do in the next 90 days to bring you closer to your goal. One day at a time.
Look for Opportunities.
Remember the stories I mentioned above? Those are great examples of people and companies looking for opportunities to help other people. And that’s exactly what it’s all about – looking for opportunities to help someone. It’s never been easier to differentiate yourself from the competition than now – the landscape has been disrupted. What can you offer? You may not be ‘selling’ anything during this time…other than yourself. Show people your true character in a time when humanity is needed most. How can you serve your prospects, clients and community at a time like this? How can you be innovative? Heck, get wacky and fun…but for goodness sakes…don’t let this opportunity pass you by!
Listen and Establish Trust.
If there has ever been a time to listen to your clients, NOW is the time. Listening establishes trust and right now your clients and prospects need to know who they can trust. Ask them how they are doing. Ask them how you can help. Brainstorm together! Have virtual coffee meetings. Use this time to help your clients plan for growth too. If you have a prospect or a client who is having trouble seeing the forest for the trees…help them. If you have a client that is down in the dumps….help them. And the best way to help them is to LISTEN to what they are going through and find a way to support.
Ok, so at this time, this one may feel a little icky. A little self serving. A little narcissistic even. But, it’s not. Remember, in my 5 Step Formula, everyone wins, so this ask is simply a way to help them get what they want, and you get what you want. I think a lot of people are offering help but then leaving the ask on the table because they feel like now is not the right time. But if not now, when? When they go back to their day-to-day and they go back to working with the same people and suppliers they always have? Now you know email and phone still works – so you don’t have an excuse of not being able to meet with your clients/prospects! Help your customers understand why now is a good time to partner together. Don’t be pushy, be sensitive to their fears and talk it through. But show them that you are their partner.
You know this is my favorite step. Even if the answer is no or not right now, you still need to follow up! I had a realtor that checked in on me every single month by text and asked me how things were going. She didn’t ask me to buy a house, or sell mine. She was simply maintaining a relationship. And guess what, when it’s time to sell, I’ll head her direction. In the meantime, I’ve referred a lot of people to her simply because she keeps her name in front of me – in a kind and thoughtful way.
But most importantly, sometimes follow-up is its own reward. Especially in challenging times like these, never forget the value of simply checking in. Following up just to let your client or colleague know you’re thinking of them. It doesn’t have to generate a cash reward, or more business—it’s just part of being human. And connecting.
And that can be the greatest reward of all.
Dr. Cynthia McGovern has dedicated her career to helping a wide variety of organizations and individuals achieve dramatic results in the areas of sales, leadership, and change management. Her vast experience working with organizations to create the changes they need to be more successful and her breadth of current knowledge in a wide variety of industries helps leaders strategize for growth, plan for change, get buy-in from employees and implement the new behaviors needed to succeed. This work gave birth to the Orange Leaf Consulting process. Holding her masters in communication and her doctorate degree in Organizational Communication, Cynthia has spent the last 14 years working with companies to create organizational change, so that they can continue to grow their business and build lasting relationships with their clients.