By Gina Trimarco, Chief Results Officer
Many of our clients have been on my mind through Hurricane Florence. The struggle is real for all of us in the Southeast. As a company we have not been disrupted too much. Our theater (Carolina Improv Company) had to close for a weekend. Not a big deal, but we don’t expect business to catapult any time soon as road conditions will worsen from flooding.
As for our sales training business, I started to reach out to some of our clients to check in on them, especially those in hospitality (with hotels to operate). As I started to write these emails, I realized that other businesses might be struggling with sales momentum because of the hurricane. And the question I raised was:
What should we do during disastrous times when we want to be sensitive and empathetic, yet still need to generate revenue???
I also raise this question because AS a business in the Southeast I’ve experienced sales people calling on me as if it’s just a normal day in everyone’s life because for THEM, it IS a normal day. They’re not in it with us, experiencing both life and business disruption. They are disconnected from our realities, thus no empathy. Just another day at the office. I found myself snapping at a cold caller the other day and said, “Do you realize I’m in the middle of an evacuation?!” and hung up on him. Purely emotional, I know. They had no clue and didn’t deserve my tantrum, but that was my (the buyer) reality.
BUYING IS EMOTIONAL beyond the obvious.
As humans, we have a lot going on personally, as well as professionally. We want people to care about us before trying to sell to us. We need people to do just a little homework and know something about us, our company, our part of the world, etc. Know ONE thing and connect instantly with a prospect. It’s pretty simple.
So, I sent the following tips to some sales training clients, who are based in the Southeast and are trying to get back up and running. These tips are also good for those far removed from the stress of a natural disaster (see #6 just for those NOT in the Southeast).
Here are some things to consider when debating with yourself about making sales and follow up calls …
1) Be of service and care FIRST – ask prospects and clients if they’ve been affected by the hurricane and if you can do anything for them; call them JUST to check on them and don’t even ask about doing business with you; practice your “tell me more” listening skills we did in training.
2) Know that people will welcome a distraction from reality with a cheerful call or visit from you.
3) Take some time to practice things like “yes and” and “share-apy” (listening and empathy skills) with front line employees you rely on for nurturing leads; if they are having personal life struggles, you could be the friendliest ear in their lives right now.
4) Take care of yourself – mentally and physically (I’ve been doing yoga and meditation on the beach and it’s been amazing).
5) Stay educated – read books and articles and listen to podcasts. By the way, they don’t all have to be sales or business related books; one of my favorite books I recently read was The Surrender Experiment about a hippie turned billionaire who focused on not forcing anything in his life to happen.
6) Know what part of the country or world you’re calling and learn a few things about what’s going on in their area before reaching out. Use it as an opportunity to connect. When changing my flights on Delta I said, “Boy this hurricane must really be tough on all of you” and the rep said, “Oh, we’ve got disasters going on all over the world to deal with right now.” Shame on me for not knowing THAT!
Be human. Improvise. Be successful.
ABOUT THE POST AUTHOR
Gina Trimarco, CEO/Founder of Pivot10 Results and Carolina Improv Company, is a serial entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in marketing, sales, operations and people training. Her personal why is to help people overcome obstacles to make the impossible possible. When the economy crashed in 2008 she opted to do something seemingly impossible to many by starting an unproven concept business instead of finding a new job. That business, Carolina Improv Company (CIC), has been #1 on TripAdvisor for Nightlife Attractions in Myrtle Beach, SC since 2010 and is in the process of becoming a licensor of its programs. CIC also spun off a second business, Pivot10 Results, a training and strategy company that helps businesses and executives shift from people problems to performance results. Trimarco produces and hosts The Pivotal Leader podcast, is an official member of the Forbes Coaches Council and is a contributor to Forbes.com and TrainingMagazine.com. She also is a Vistage member and official Vistage speaker.