Two years 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, most of that is out the window as we adjust to changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Has the way we prospect changed forever?
The New Reality of Prospecting
The customers you call on now are probably operating under very different conditions than before the pandemic. .
- They may be working with kids at home with kids while some schools are closed periodically due to outbreaks.
- Their employees may be out with COVID leaving a shortage of people to do the work.
- They may still struggle with managing remote employees or to stay productive themselves while working remotely.
- They may still 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 pandemic and the economy as everything changes rapidly.. 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 we are all still adjusting and there are still lots 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 but remember they may still be dealing with coronavirus fears, and you need to prepare to handle that effectively.
How to Talk to Your Prospects
Your next responsibility is to figure out how to share your message in a way it can be received depending on the situation. The conversation you were having before the pandemic, or even last year, may not be the right one to be having today. Here are five tips for talking to prospects.
- 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?”
- 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.
- 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.
- Listen – The only time I’m 100% sure I have your undivided attention is when you’re talking to me. So if you want a prospects attention let them talk. Don’t interrupt. Be patient. Practice “Golden Silence” with compassion.
- Care – These are scary times for so many reasons. Who knew COVID would invade our lives for so long. Companies just don’t know what to expect, so they struggle to make good decisions. We’re all losing deals to no decision. While your quota is important, it is more important to partner with your customers to make the right decision for them.. Relationships matter. This is a great time to build them. Play the long game.
But, don’t be afraid to call on prospects. They need you. They need solutions. With the right message, they will make the time to have a conversation with you.
As long as you are compassionate and customer-focused, pick up the phone and find out what you’re customers are facing. If you can be of help, if you can solve or guide, do it.