Prospecting Messages

A month ago, you knew what to say when you picked up the phone or composed an email to prospects. You knew your ideal customer profile, your target market, and your value propositions. You had all the tools you needed to prospect efficiently and effectively.  

Now, some (or all) of that may be out the window as we adjust to social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The New Reality of Prospecting 

The customers you call on now are probably operating under very different conditions than at the start of the year.   

  • They may be working with kids at home while schools are closed.  
  • Their employees may be sick or struggling to stay productive while working remotely.  
  • They may be behind on tools or elements needed (video conferencing, webcams, office space) to effectively work from home.  

Beyond that, many businesses are feeling the effects of the economy as it veers toward a sudden recession. For your customers, the impacts might be a sudden dip or rise in sales, depending on the markets they serve. Either way, you need to accept that this is a period of adjustment that comes with a lot of unknowns.  

So, the first question you have to ask yourself is, “Are my prospects in a position to hear from me right now?” The answer to that varies from buyer to buyer. Some simply won’t have time to talk to you now. Some will need you more than ever, and some are dealing with more urgent priorities, but still have to make this purchase. Your first job is to figure out which descriptor matches which buyers and to act accordingly. 

To assess the situations, you need to pick up the phone or compose that email. Now is definitely the time to connect with potential customers. If they’re dealing with coronavirus fears, prepare to handle that conversation effectively.  

How to Talk to Your Prospects 

Your next responsibility is to figure out how to talk to the buyers that need you so they can receive your message. The conversation you were having before may not be the right one to be having today. Here are five tips for talking to prospects.  

  1. Check-in with intention – “I understand your needs and priorities may be in flux right now. Can you tell me about how current events may have impacted your timeline? 
  2. Remember to define value – Prospects aren’t interested in your product or even what you do. They have business problems they’re trying to solve. Before the pandemic, those problems may have included saving time or money, working more efficiently, or increasing revenue. You need to assess what prospects are now trying to prevent, improve, or fix.   
  3. Understand the different buyers – What is true for one buyer in an organization may not be true for another. The feelings of people who use or manage the product may be very different from the way the feelings of the CEO. Frame the discussion for the person you are talking to and what matters to that person. 
  4. Listen – People may need to talk right now. Maybe because they are emotional, or maybe because there is so much going on that they need to process out loud. Let them talk. Don’t interrupt. Be patient. Practice Golden Silence” with compassion.  
  5. Care – These are scary times for so many reasons. Companies just don’t know what to expect, so they struggle to make good decisions despite the unknown. While your quota is important, it is more important to partner with your customers to make the right decision for them in this moment. Relationships matter. This is a great time to build them. 

Again, don’t be afraid to call on prospects. Unless your clients are personally on the front lines of this crisis, now might be a great time to talk and plan. If they are on the front lines, and you have something that will help them solve an urgent issue, they might make time to talk to you.  

As long as you are compassionate and customer-focused, pick up the phone and find out what they’re facing. You may be able to lend a hand, and that’s what good selling is all about.  

We’re always here to help your sales team handle tough customer conversations. Get a 90-minute interactive virtual training for your sales team. Schedule a call with Liz.

About the Author Liz Heiman

A strategic thinker, sales strategist, Japanist, and Rotarian, Liz is a coach, trainer, and prolific speaker on the topics of sales and sales leadership. Liz loves sales, and enjoys working with sales leaders to create strategies and processes that make sense AND bring in results.

follow me on:

Your Sales Pivot

What CEOs Need to Know About Sales Right Now

Learn how to remove fear, triage pipelines and pivot to grow sales during these turbulent times.