In times like this, the Internet and Social Media are very helpful for companies to find advice on how to prepare now for the time after we have put a lid on the current crisis. McKinsey, PWC, HBR and the like, produce hundreds of articles on this challenge. I have simplified their key messages and labeled them as 4 R’s: Resolve, Resilience, Return and Re-imagine. In each of these stages, how can you help your customers and prospects?
Resolve. Factories producing less or have shut down. To fulfill the demand goods need to come from somewhere else. In this stage, everyone will be fire-fighting and their main concern is keeping their business and people alive. Their focus is on fundamentals. And your focus is to calm their mind. Re-assure you are here to help them. Communicate frequently with updates, your adjusted capabilities and how you will do everything to help them and their customers. Customers will have questions about the continuity of their current supply chain. Some businesses acting as the middlemen in the supply chain may not operate. How can these be bypassed so the flow of goods continues? Or alternative suppliers are found in countries your customer has no experience. Will their goods be delivered on time to them? And what about their end-customers, how are they impacted? They will ask the same questions to your competitors. How do they anticipate to overcome these challenges? This stage is about showing your loyalty to your customers, they will be thankful and show their loyalty to you in return. This stage is also about opportunities to gain new customers if they do not find the right answers from their current suppliers.
Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Your customers and prospects will adjust their 2020 plan. Some will prepare for the worst scenario and hence they are looking at their balance sheets where they can cut costs and manage cash better. Cash is king in a crisis. How can you help? Prepare your situational knowledge well. Which competitors are they using? This stage is about knowing your strengths and your competitor’s weaknesses very well. What are your ideas and insights on how you can help prospects with reducing their overall costs? How can you help to find savings without sacrificing the customer experience? How have you helped other businesses with efficiency gains? Share these stories with your prospects. Any cost saving is welcome at this stage.
Return. Business owners and their management teams start to realize that the next normal will look unlike any in the years preceding the coronavirus pandemic. Some businesses, pre-corona, had already looked into their e-Commerce or B2C capability, now many realize that ordering online will continue to be a major revenue-driving sales channel beyond the pandemic. Once we are allowed to leave our houses, go to our offices, travel again for business, the world will be different. We will go back to the new normal gradually, but our changed behavior as online consumers will continue. People will continue to buy online more than ever. How can you help your customers with the set-up of a competitive e-commerce strategy? Also, B2B e-commerce buying will increase over the next years. Do your prospects get similar help from your competitor sales reps? If not, share your insights on how you can help. You will get a listening ear, guaranteed.
Re-imagine. Having overcome the fear of losing their business and having now a firm control over their internal business dynamics, business owners will find the time to look into the future state of their company. They will start to reimagine their brick-and-mortar strategy. They will challenge their senior management to monitor and adjust commercial levers. They want to be ready to move quickly if opportunities present themselves. They need to build capabilities for a fast-changing environment. They will listen to your suggestions to do things differently if that benefits their top and bottom line, their customers and their position in the market. This is the stage is about reimagining Customer Experience for a post-COVID-19 world and building capabilities for a fast-changing environment. The question is: How can you help? In traditional selling, you would push your products and services, in the new way of selling you think with your customer about strategic advantages. You share insights where your knowledge intersects with the customer’s strategic plans. You become a Trusted Advisor companies want to talk to.
In summary, understand the situation your customer and prospective customer is in – they may be in different stages of Resolve, Resilience, Return and Re-imagine. Help them by showing empathy but also by being a great business partner. Someone who can think strategically and share relevant insights shining a different perspective on the customers’ current state and desired future state. That is what is expected from Trusted Advisors.
LIKE and SHARE (at the bottom of this blog) with your network if you think this post is helping you with your new way of selling. Follow Me, to receive new posts by email. Thank you!