Prospecting in times of crisis: empathy first!


Why does empathy matter?

Empathy has been the buzzword. You noticed?

The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes was already very important in our area, especially when we talk about consultative sales. Now that we are living in a scenario of extreme uncertainty, it is worth even more.

This is explained by all the challenges that our potential customers are having to deal with. That is, before picking up the phone or writing a first contact email, before following up and during a first conversation, remember that your interlocutor:

  • You may be afraid that you will lose your job or that your company will have a lot of losses;
  • You may be sick or with someone in your family in this situation;
  • You may be dealing with a variety of emotional challenges due to social isolation ;
  • You may be living in a moment of mourning;
  • Among other factors that we are not able to imagine and understand.

So it’s possible that your prospect will be impatient, give little thought to what you’re talking about, and even be rude during the conversation.

In this sense, before worrying about fulfilling your sales script or getting into the commercial subject, worry about building a trusting relationship.

Ask questions that help you not only find the best solution for your potential client’s business, but also allow you to understand whether or not this prospecting should go forward.

How to prospect in a contained market?

Knowing that empathy is the main ingredient for any prospecting in times of crisis, it is also necessary to keep an eye on where the best (or least risky) opportunities are.

We say in this article that this crisis is for everyone, but more serious for some sectors. So, following the path of empathy, these are also not the sectors most willing to make a new acquisition or hire, unless their solution solves a specific problem for this moment in these companies.

What we recommend to follow with your B2B sales prospecting is to follow these practices:

Raise lists focused on who can benefit most from what you sell

Your company probably solves some problem in the world, right?

So, more than ever, choose to talk to potential customers who will gain a lot from your service or product right now.

For example, if your company is a Digital Agency, it is interesting to approach companies that were not yet selling online and urgently need to migrate to this model.

Or, in another case, if you sell office items, it’s time to talk to those businesses that continue to operate in person because they are considered essential sectors.

This Market Intelligence is essential so that sellers’ motivation is not impacted, considering that we are in a scenario of more negative contacts.

Review sales scripts

We said above that before following the sales script, we need to worry about understanding the moment of the person and company we are going to talk to. But that can also be included in it.

In fact, your entire script needs to be revised, so that it is suitable for the scenario we are living.

Try to include situational understanding questions and clear directions on when to go with the conversation or not, so sellers feel confident about how far they can go. And be sure to train them for this new context of commercial prospecting.

Prospecting with a focus on online

Another important point related to the sales script is to think that relationships now take place 100% in the digital environment, from the first contact to the closing.

If your company is not yet focused on Inside Sales, it’s time to do so and pay special attention to online channels such as email and social media.

Learn and train on topics such as cold emailing and social selling, strategies that can transform your sales operations today.

Make short, to-the-point videoconferences

After the first contact via phone, email or social media, prospecting can evolve into a video meeting. Right at a time when we’re all overwhelmed by this kind of online interaction.

How not to be “just another video conference” on your prospect’s day?

It’s important to leave them free to schedule within their possible timetable and not use more than 30 minutes of their time – if there’s interest, you can schedule a longer conversation.

This is also linked to the empathy of realizing that, possibly, your interlocutor is tired of so many virtual conversations and with a very busy routine.

And during the conversation, be objective! Ask questions that really matter and present your company and your solution as concisely as you can, without missing out on what’s important to delight your prospect.

Consult the prospect about the ideal follow-up

Another difficulty at this time is related to follow-ups. Many proposals are unanswered, in a scenario where the sales funnel has become longer.

It takes empathy to know how far you can insist on a follow-up and a simple question can help to avoid any mistakes: “when is the best time to talk again?”.

That time frame may be quite long, but respecting it can do a lot for your company’s reputation in this delicate context.

In fact, it’s interesting to focus on fueling the top and middle of your funnel rather than closing a lot of deals. Thus, the brand is preserved and, at least in the future, sales may take place.

The importance of sales campaigns

In addition to these direct prospecting actions, it is possible to influence and accelerate sales through campaigns – both those focused on the end customer, as well as those aimed at encouraging salespeople to remain motivated.

Marketing and Human Resources need to be by your side so that these initiatives are also reviewed, with all the empathy that the moment requires.

Very aggressive calls or based on triggers such as scarcity can generate more anguish for everyone at a time when anxiety is already running high. Is that really what you want?

Sales campaigns are essential right now! But they need to be guided by other precepts, such as empathy, collaboration and caring for each other.

Think about how this can be adapted to your brand and your organizational culture, look for references about the best that is being done in the world and think and rethink as much as necessary to get the tone right.

Put “the house in order” during the quarantine arrive prepared for your new future!

Here we talk about best practices to continue prospecting in times of crisis.

Sales teams play a huge role in this pandemic, in keeping companies afloat and at the same time helping their customers find solutions to do the same. All this with care for people and for the reputation of the business, which needs to come out of this crisis intact.

Probably, we will not leave this period with goals that have been met, with few exceptions. But we can leave much better prepared for the future to come, which we already know will have a “new normal”.

For this, your time and that of your sellers can also be used to put the house in order, take all those actions that are left standing waiting for hours to remain in such a busy routine, such as:

  • Update templates for proposals and presentations;
  • Hire systems and tools that optimize the work;
  • Organize files;
  • Build reports; and
  • Make decisions based on concrete data and information.

There is a lot to be done now to make up for lost sales in the future. Trust it and keep motivating your team to make the market go round!