My Personal Experience with Selling During COVID-19
Last week, while working from my new office, aka my dining/living room, I saw a man walking down the other side of the street whom I didn’t recognize. Mind you, I don’t know all my neighbors, or truth be told have an interest in knowing all my neighbors, but there was something about him that screamed “outsider” and my interest was piqued.
Before too long, the “outsider” knocked on my door and within 1.5 seconds I knew he was selling something. Normally I would have “no-thanks’d” the guy before the three second mark, but something made me pause.
In my role at work, I talk about sales best practices every day and my Sales System (located next to my Nervous and Respiratory Systems) were ring-a-ding-dinging.
“I noticed you don’t have a screen on your front window” he said as he backed up six feet, which I appreciated because right now I don’t want to be within 6 feet of my own mother let alone a stranger. And it’s true, I have been studiously ignoring that missing screen for the last four seasons. BUT HE NOTICED. Then he started asking me about the current state of my windows. Yes, the guy was selling new windows in the midst of a pandemic.
After reviewing the conversation and analyzing the experience, I’ve determined that three things are happening here. One, there’s a door-to-door sales rep out there working really hard to make a sale by way of human connection, and he’s not letting a stay-at-home order get in his way. Two, which is most surprising, I was a thousand times more receptive to that human interaction than I normally would be. And three, I really need to replace my screen.
Report Card for the Sales Rep
- A+ – for getting out there and not giving up. You have a very steep road ahead of you with the projected recession. Starting now to build your pipeline will “flatten the curve” but you will still have to fight for every deal and every dollar.
- A+ – for making the pitch about me. I’m not interested in a fake smile and polished recitation of your products. I have problems, thank you for being the one to offer a solution.
- B+ – for the personal connection on my doorstep. Even if it was six feet away, you were still on my doorstep and I’m paranoid about my private space more than ever. Next time, try a personalized video in an email.
- F – for follow-through. You know where I live, but you didn’t ask for my contact info. How can you follow up with me? When I’m ready to buy I may not go through the hassle of tracking you down, which is too bad because your first impression was…impressive.
Report Card for Humanity/Buyer/Me
- A+ – for personal and buyer awareness. We all need to be on the lookout for scams and germs more than ever, but it is a delicate balance between paranoia and prudent caution. The best thing to do is ask questions. Ask about the history of a sellers’ company and their proposed future. Ask about contingency plans. Ask for direct contact info for multiple people at the company and follow that up with an actual call or email. Read the fine print!
- A+ – (Most Improved) for genuinely caring about your fellow human beings. Yes, it’s a scary time right now, but there’s a lot of honest good will going on around the world. And unlike the October – December Holiday Season “good will”, it wasn’t scheduled or pre-empted by retail sales. We are much more cognizant that every purchase we make could impact someone in our community losing or keeping their job. (Write a Holiday song about that!) Being open to human interactions could be caused by the pandemic or working from home in isolation but either way, great job on being a human.
- F – for FEAR. Even though I looked at that man and for once didn’t see him as an interchangeable sales rep, I was still influenced by fear of the unknown.
Failing at Follow-through and Fear
It’s true, I asked the questions and I took the business card, but I have not committed to the sale yet because I’m afraid of the unknown. Caution isn’t going to fix my windows and when I’m ready to pull my head out of the sand will that Sales Rep be the first person I call? Did we make a true human connection? That is what sales teams should aim for to weather this storm.
Your products solve problems that will still be there after this pandemic passes. The question is, will you still be there when I’m ready to sign on the dotted line or am I one of a thousand vague interactions?
Business Enablement Manager | XANT