Recently, I interviewed my good friend, Richard Citrin, author of Strategy-Driven Leadership and The Resilience Advantage. We talked about how resiliency—what he describes as the ability to “bounce forward”—is a hardwired resource in all of us. But you must summon it to make it work!
Salespeople are no exception to this rule. And right now—just as sales teams are starting to reconnect with their customers while practicing social distancing during this global pandemic—it’s a critical time to look at how to make the most of this vital resource.
It’s not a coincidence that consistent top-performers in this profession also happen to be the most flexible, the most creative and the most likely to show mental grit during times of great adversity. Today, they are the ones that are fully leveraging what Richard calls “situational adaptability.” Facing the reality that they cannot have face-to-face meetings with clients, resilient salespeople schedule Zoom or Skype calls or send check-in emails to their customers.
Doing so in sales is all about implementing service as a strategy. Let’s look at the three ways you can engage this to help you and your sales team bounce forward in these difficult times.
1. Put empathy in the front seat.
It is a grave mistake to assume that customers who aren’t buying anymore are not worth keeping in touch with right now. The reason why they aren’t buying now is no mystery. And because of this, you will leave a lasting, positive impression when you do reach out to them and simply ask: “How are you doing these days?” And, “How can I help?” Many of my clients today are reporting to me that they are having some of their best-ever conversations with their customers and prospects—all because they are making a deliberate choice to put empathy in the front seat in how they connect with people. In doing so, they’re learning by asking.
2. Be of service internally.
More than just staying on top of serving their customers, resilient sales pros know they must be of service to their team members…now more than ever. This would—in normal times—be counterintuitive for many who earned their top-performance ranking by just sticking to themselves and focusing squarely on their clients. But I don’t need to tell you that these aren’t normal times anymore. Today, you must look at every way you can to be more of a team player: the go-to person that others can rely on for help when and where they need it.
3. Think bigger about your company.
As an extension of being in service to your team, resilient salespeople are willing to apply big picture thinking to the success of the company they work for. They are now sharing more best practices that are working for them in the field so that others in the company can benefit. We live in an all-hands-on-deck world now where everyone must pitch in to keep their ship afloat. So be prepared to be a trusted resource to those who need coaching and mentoring. That ought to include an offer to “team sell” if it makes sense within your company.
We are seeing in real-time these days just how adaptable society can be in dealing with abrupt change and coping with deep uncertainty. As my friend Richard reminds us: the best thing we can do in the face of today’s adversity is to refrain from trying to define what the new normal looks like. Instead, approach things with what he calls “bounded optimism.” Focus on what’s within your immediate control. By applying this wisdom to sales—making service as a strategy your default setting—you will position yourself for new growth and success as recovery conditions take hold.