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Thoughts on Selling During COVID-19 from Christine Merser & Barry Brandt

Who doesn't remember the Glengarry Glen Ross film with Alec Baldwin's ... always be closing message. Blue Shoe's managing partner, Christine Merser, is part of the Brandt Advisors team and with Barry Brandt, has added to his projection of this moment in time for sales with some to do's to keep on top of this moment and client content and contact.

Do you have a sales plan for this moment in history?

--Christine Merser

Barry Brandt, Brandt Advisors

Over the past couple of weeks, I have logged a lot of time online with friends and associates in sales. Even the most seasoned sellers amongst us are no longer focusing on winning new business, but on the loss of pending business and worse yet, the loss of existing customers.

Some sellers are reflecting on how their careers were impacted by the financial crash of 2008. The more 'seasoned' amongst us will remember a time back in the early 1990s, when the stock market crash was in the rearview mirror but the phones were still not ringing.

There is that memorable scene in David Mamet's film adaptation of Glengarry Glen Ross. Alec Baldwin, playing the ultimate alpha real estate sales agent, offers up a slice of steaming, profanity laced vitriol, challenging his audience of feckless sales associates with 'ABC...Always Be Closing.' Never let up. Sell as if your job depended on it. Why? Because it did!!!!

The crisis we face now is different from those events. We are not dealing solely with the impact of financial loss. We are dealing with the very harsh realities of life and death. Rich or poor, mortality remains the great equalizer.

This is not the time to Always Be Closing. But it's also not the time to stop selling. When customers may be asking why you are contacting them now, those who sell for a living need to assess the value that their product offers. Do you sell something that has future value, something that makes life even slightly easier, something that just makes them feel better about themselves?

The word 'essential' has become a mainstay in our daily conversation, and it's great if you happen to be selling something that your customer really needs. But as the days of this crisis drift into weeks, it is important to acknowledge that what is 'essential' may well be found at the intersection of need and want. In other words, never underestimate the emotional connection that your customer may have to the product or service you offer. And, most importantly, never underestimate the connection that your customer has to you.

It's not that people have stopped buying. It's that people are buying only those things that are important to them. Your job is no longer just selling. Your job now is identifying the inherent value that your product or service provides and making your customer aware of that connection.


Christine Merser, Blue Shoe Strategy

Whatever may be happening, even in the worst of times, someone is providing a service or product that meets the needs of the 'new normal.' There are opportunities in today's world.

First, assess what you are selling.

Is your product or service needed now? If not, can you modify it to make it relevant for your audience?

If your product or service will only be of value once Covid-19 is in our rearview mirror, make a list of what your clients care about right now and what they will care about when we they are able to re-start their businesses.

Ask yourself how you can be of value to them. Can you provide them with industry-specific information or news updates that would be useful to them in some way?

Pay attention to your clients. Follow them on social media. Make a note to reach out through texting or emailing every few weeks with a comment, article, question, or idea to let them know you are thinking of them.

If you have a product that might be relevant to them now, how you put it in front of them will determine whether or not they 'hear' you. We are all consumed with the personal issues this crisis has brought to our homes, families and friends. The last thing we can 'hear' is a hard pitch for something that might be irrelevant if someone close to us is in trouble. Always open with your hope that all is well in their world and that they are coping as best they can.

Do not advertise right now except for boosting content on social media that is relevant and respectful of the times in which we are mired. No politics. No jokes about that which is not funny.

The final lesson is out of sight, out of mind. If you can, participate in zoom meetings, or even host one. We have a client who is a real estate broker who organized a weekly online wine and learn event (this week a landscape architect is talking about cultivating your own vegetable garden!). She has increased participation over the past few weeks and received multiple notes of gratitude. Several participants have inquired about available rentals, one of which she converted last week.

Always Be Closing is not always about putting products in front of someone immediately. Sometimes it's about putting yourself in front of them and reminding them gently you are there when they are ready.

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