When Is It OK To Sell Again?

When is it ok to sell again?What Does “Selling” Look Like After COVID-19 Crisis?

Recently I was on a webinar hosted by the Michigan Promotional Products Association featuring  Kirby Hasseman. The question came up of “When Is It OK To Sell Again?”.

As a salesman, most of my adult life, my first thought was, It is always a good time to sell. Why would you not be selling even with the COVID-19 Crisis? In fact, now is when you should be selling — when you have little or no business!

But the Coronavirus has changed a lot of things — and “selling” is certainly one area of business that has gone through some changes.

The Webinar was primarily focused on the Promotional Product Industry, but the discussion applies to almost every business.  How do you “sell” during this crisis?

I have to admit that this has hit home for me.  I am in the advertising business, and one of the first things businesses cut from their budget when COVID hit in March was advertising.

There was a time, for a couple of weeks, that I felt bad about contacting my clients.  Many of them were struggling. I had a lot of retail stores, restaurants, and other businesses that had to close.  Some of them never reopened. When I sent out an email, I never knew how many would come back with a reply that they were “out of business.”

Besides, email seemed so impersonal during this time.

One of the things Hasselman suggested was to just call your customers and ask them, “How are you holding up?” Don’t try to sell them anything. Just listen.   People like to talk, and if you give them a chance, they will tell you what they are thinking.

I had already begun to put that into place in my business, and Hasseman just confirmed that was the right thing to do.  Many of my clients were hard to reach by phone and sometimes even harder to reach by email.  I started leaving a message, just to see how they were doing. Many never called back. However, some did.

After several messages, one of my clients called me to “just to talk.” She had been a good client over the years, and while she had spent some of her budget with me, I always knew I was ‘leaving money on the table.”

We spent almost a half-hour on the phone as she told me her frustration of working from home and the pressure she had.  I didn’t really try to “sell” her anything.  I just listened. At the close of the conversation, I offered a few suggestions on how I could help, and we hung up.  It was good to “catch up” with her and to know a little more about her and her business.

Within a week, she started sending me projects.  As it turned out, she didn’t know, I could help her with some of the jobs she had.

As I thought about my conversation, I recalled when other people have called me during this Crisis.

I get a lot of sales calls — many out of the blue — selling me all kinds of products and services. There are traditional phone services, merchant accounts, and people wanting me to take out a business loan.  But, I get media people and other suppliers calling me with offers for my clients.

It is usually pretty easy to see who is just “selling” and who is generally interested in helping me get through this crisis.  I recall one person from a direct mail list company that asked how I was doing.  When I told her my business had tanked, and I just lost my largest account because he had no money and two of my restaurant accounts were completely out of business, she couldn’t wait to get off the telephone.  Obviously, I was not an immediate prospect.  Had she spent a few minutes more building a rapport with me, I might have called her when I had a need.  Instead, she will be one of the last people I call for a mailing list.

Maybe the Question is not When Is It OK To Sell Again? It should be, “How Do We Sell Again?”

My thanks to Kerry Hasseman for getting me thinking about “When Is It OK To Sell Again?”

Kirby Hasseman is the CEO of Hasseman Marketing & Communications, a full-service marketing company, and promotional products distributor. He is a thought leader in the promotional products industry and he was recognized as a top social media influencer on two different industry lists. He has published four books. His books are available on his website or at Amazon.