How To Catch a Fish When Nothing is Biting? (Tips to selling in a COVID-19 world)
Sales, like fishing, has its highs and lows. One weekend it is almost too easy- every time you cast you end up catching a fish; you think you are unstoppable because you are the number one sales rep in your organisation. But the next weekend you go out and, as is the nature of many things, you can’t get a single bite.
You are doing all the same things you were doing the previous weekend, but now you can’t seem to find anyone to buy. COVID-19 has proved to be a lot worse, not to mention a lot longer, than any of us could have expected. But if there is anything that I have learned in the 8+ years in sales, it’s that sometimes you have to make some changes in order to start catching fish again.
Below are three tips to get you through these crazy times and get you out of your current sales slump.
It has been over a month since you closed your last deal and your director is wondering when the deal which is sitting in Commit stage is going to come across the line. Now there is only six selling days left the month and you haven’t heard from your point of contact in two days. You are stressed out and think the only thing you can do is to start ringing up your buyer for a status update on the contract. STOP. This is the point where you need to take a breath and be patient.
Being eager and enthusiastic are generally considered to be good qualities associated with people in sales. But during times of uncertainty, like we are dealing with now, being overly enthusiastic and too eager may come across as being impatient, or worse, being pushy.
Even though you are thiiiis close to getting the deal done, which will get your director off your back, you need to understand that there are completely new and challenging factors that go into buying decisions now. So, take a step back, don’t get discouraged, and be patient because the deal will come through.
And always remember- when in doubt, don’t press send.
Change your tactics
You haven’t caught a fish in weeks, but that doesn’t stop you from sticking with your go-to tactics that have ‘always worked’ before. You are confident in your skills and you know your strategy has worked in the past. You know the big fish is there, but despite everything you are doing, you cannot catch it.
Your tried and true sales approach has been getting you nowhere. Make no mistake, the fish are there, but it may be time that you change your tactics if you want to close deals during COVID-19. Here are a few changes that I have seen success with:
- Reach out to old customers to reconnect and see if they can refer someone to you
- Use LinkedIn for what it was made for: networking. If you identify your ideal customer that is a 2nd or 3rd degree connection, don’t let that stop you from trying to connect. Use your 1st degree contact to make the introduction for you.
- Pick up the phone. When was the last time you made a cold call? I remember my last time was in October of 2013, the day I quit my first sales job. That is, until two weeks ago when started cold calling for lead generation.
- Go back to the basics: make sure you are qualifying leads; make sure you are asking the right questions; do a pre-call plan; and make sure you are doing enough discovery and be sure you know their pain points.
- And finally, for the love of all that is good and holy, make sure you are finishing your meetings/calls with clear and definitive next steps.
Know when to let go
You finally get a day off from watching the kids and you are keen to go back to the same spot that you caught the big one a few weeks ago. You get there, you use the same bait and the weather is perfect. You know it is going to be a successful day.
But there is only one problem- the fish are not biting. You remember this blog and think all you have to do is be patient. You wait, and wait, and wait some more. Nothing. You return the next two weekends and make sure to do everything the exact same as the first time. But what you don’t realise is the fish have moved upstream. All the while you are wasting your time trying to catch the big one, when you could have moved on weeks ago and caught a few smaller fish instead. You need to understand when it is time to let the deal go.
This is a common issue for many salespeople. The prospect told you they are interested in moving forward but need some time to decide. It has now been weeks, or months, since you started engaging with them. You have invested so much time in the deal that, even though your point of contact hasn’t responded after multiple attempts, you continue to spend your time reaching out unsuccessfully.
Letting go is hard – you have spent so much time getting to this point in your sales cycle, you cannot bring yourself to admitting the deal is lost. The fact is, if you would have let it go when you first realised it was lost, you would have been able to spend that time finding a new deal to replace it.