Bust the myth that nobody’s buying right now
How To Sell When Customers ‘Aren’t Buying’
It may be easy to sell food, masks and headsets in the current environment, but many small business owners in other niches are finding it’s not easy to keep sales percolating. So what do you do if you urgently need sales in a very small business right now?
For ideas, I turned to Nigel Green, author of The Revenue Harvestand the former CEO of marketing firm Story Brand, who is now a solo sales strategy consultant for B2B companies. “You can make money in any economy, good or bad,” says Green. “It’s how you choose to see the world.”
Here are some ideas you can start applying immediately.
Do a reality check. “The number one roadblock to selling right now is that people believe the narrative no one is buying,” says Green. “That’s not true. If you choose to believe it, it lets you off the hook, and you no longer have to think about it. The more accountable entrepreneur says ‘I have a responsibility to see who is buying and why they are buying.’”
Then it’s up to you to act on what you learn. “Contribute to helping them solve a problem,” Green says.
Research smarter. Don’t stop investigating new opportunities just because sales are slow in your industry. “I can’t tell myself people aren’t buying and stop the customer acquisition piece of my business,” says Green. “I still have a responsibility to talk to people, but the context for my researching has changed. It’s less calling to see if you need consulting services and more calling to check on you.”
Those check-in calls or Zoom meetings are a good opportunity to ask how customers are doing and to find out if what they are buying is different than 2-3 months ago. “Everyone is buying,” says Green. “What they are buying has changed.”
It’s possible your customers see a new market they want to exploit—so make sure you’re aware of the time clock they need to beat to make the most of it, so you can help them go after it. “People that are buying right now are being opportunists about changes in the marketplace,” says Green.
Ask customers what they need—and what you could make for them. Just because you don’t make it or offer it now, it doesn’t mean you can’t in the future.
Pay particular attention to things they buy that are similar or complementary to what you offer. You may have an edge in selling to them.
“You have trust and you’ve built a good relationship with that customer,” Green says. “They may not like the other vendor they are buying from. They may be willing to pay you more to do something.”
Give it away. If you have developed a course, webinar or other type of informational product by subscription, consider offering it gratis for a short time, to introduce it to new customers. One of Green’s friends, a digital marketer, did that with a $19 a month subscription product.
“When he saw that everyone was going to be forced to work from home, he made it free,” says Green. “He allowed 60,000 individuals who wouldn’t have been exposed to his product to experience it. It gave him a chance to show his stuff was good and to build trust and credibility.”
Don’t hoard expertise. Share ideas freely, Green suggests, but charge for systems to help someone put them into action, like a coaching program that accompanies a free virtual summit or archived content to help them act on what they learned. “People pay for execution,” Green says.
Put yourself out of business. The current environment is an ideal one for testing new products and ideas. Ask yourself, “What new offering would render what we’re currently offering obsolete,” Green advises. “It’s a fast track to disruption and innovation. If you can do that, you create more sustainability for your business.