At the beginning of this month – aka lifetime ago – March’s content calendar theme was sales. It’s a topic I love to talk about (because I know so many people feel weird about it….so much opportunity for transformation!). But as the news worsened, I felt a blog about sales would be tone deaf, so I wrote a post on staying positive during uncertain times.
But just as the crisis shifts every day, so does my instinct about the support you need, and I realize we do need to talk about sales. Because without sales, you have no business. Yes, sales and marketing will (and should) look different right now, but this is not a time to go dark. This is an opportunity to be the most tenacious and creative version of yourself and be the guiding light your clients and customers need. So, just as the flower grows through the crack in the concrete, let’s take a look at three integrity-driven strategies for selling during a crisis.
1) Put yourself in your client’s shoes
I’m willing to bet that you’ve received a ton of tone-deaf sales solicitations in the last couple of weeks, I know I have. And they can feel pretty triggering, right? So, let’s not do that! 😢 But I’ve also received emails and offers, often with generous terms (free shipping, longer payment terms, or a discount) that will serve and support me as we inevitably move beyond this crisis. Instead of putting the kibosh on all sales until it feels less icky (which is likely your problem with sales, not your clients BTW!), think about what would really serve them right now. Do you need to adjust your offering, your terms, or pay structure? When you approach sales from what your clients need from you, I promise, you won’t go too far wrong.
2) Reach out
Have you ever failed to ask a friend how they’re doing after a parent dies/they have a miscarriage/get fired etc. for fear of upsetting them further? I have and I learned it’s always a mistake to not reach out. Even if your friend doesn’t want to talk about it, they’ll know you care and appreciate you for it. Market crises and clients are no different. Your clients are scared, feel alone with some pretty heavy stuff, and they need to hear from you. Be proactive and instigate an honest conversation about where they’re at, what they need, and what support from you looks like. They’ll remember that you held the space for them when they needed it and thank you for it later.
3) Make a plan
Once you’re in honest dialog, you can put your heads together and make a plan for what’s next. Things will likely have changed for them, so bring your beautiful and adaptable creative mind to their business and help them see a path they might not be able to see themselves. Be prepared to get creative with payment and delivery terms as needed (which is not the same as slashing your prices…more to come on that later).
Bonus tip: Don’t take anything personally
People don’t always show up as their best selves when they’re afraid and they might act from a place of scarcity. If a client goes dark, pulls the plug, or generally takes you by surprise with not-so-cool behavior, know it’s not you. Give them the benefit of the doubt, offer to be there when they need you, and check in regularly. Yes, it’s easier said than done, but SUCH a personal development win that even if you never hear from them again, you’ll be a better person for it.
So where are you at right now?
If you’re feeling all the feelings and need a forum to get feedback on your most pressing questions and be in community with your creative peers, I have something for you! I will be hosting a FREE online workshop called Uncharted Territory: How to navigate your creative business through tough times next Wednesday, April 1st at 12 p.m.
Register here and join us. And if you’d like to share it with a fellow creative business owner or professional, feel free.
I’m here to support you and can’t wait to see you there!