It’s a question I’ve been asked a lot during the past couple of months, is it still ethical to sell and grow our pipeline during the pandemic?
Before I launch into my opinions on what business leaders should be doing to galvanise their sales efforts during these interesting times, I want to reiterate a soundbite that I’m well known for;
The only difference between a salesman and a conman - is their level of integrity
Therefore, it won’t come as a great surprise to discover I’m not advocating any business activities that profiteer excessively from people’s weaknesses or fear during this world health crisis – yep, I’m looking at you Mr. ebay pirate, buying up hand wash and selling it at a 5000% markup – but what I am advocating, in fact imploring is, for ALL entrepreneurs and investors to do our utmost to protect the growth and health of the economy as best we can during these economically uncertain times. We may not be Key Workers, working on the front line, but ensuring the wheels of the economy are still turning - THAT is our contribution to the collective pandemic response.
Warranted the OBR (Office of Budget Responsibility) is predicting the sharpest fall in GDP by June on record, 32% the last time I checked, but they are also predicting the economy to return to pre-lockdown growth levels by the end of the year. In part because the treasury is acting as a short-term shock absorber, maintaining money supply through the various furlough schemes and business loans, therefore money supply has only reduced by 5%, whereas money velocity, the second key requirement for a healthy economy, has reduced by 15%. Meaning, for the first time in our lifetimes, there is a build-up of unspent cash waiting to spent.
Now, all of this is speculation of course. Unemployment is up, certain sectors (travel, tourism, hospitality, to name a few) may not recover to pre-Covid levels for years, if ever – it probably hasn’t escaped your notice that British Airways has announced it’s pulling out of Gatwick, and Heathrow has mothballed Terminals 3 & 4, and some reports are suggesting we’re sliding into the worst recession for a generation.
However, sales is all about ‘adding value’, and ‘solving people’s problems’, so despite the current situation if your business is fundamentally achieving this, then it is your duty to keep selling.
Your sales cycle will have been disrupted - so how can you still connect with your customers and lead them through your customer journey?
Your sector may have changed irreversibly - so now maybe the time to refine your value proposition to fit future market demand.
Here’s two examples from my own client list.
- Safe Solvents, based in Maidenhead are disrupting the Parts Washing Industry with their ground-breaking aqueous degreasing technology known as Ambimization, however a part of their sales journey requires an onsite visit to understand a customer’s manufacturing process, clearly something not possible over Zoom. Therefore, they’ve created an Innovation Lab, where they video the technology working on a ‘dirty part’ supplied by the customer and they’ve re-badged a couple of vans previously used for trade shows as ‘Mobile Innovation Labs’ which they’re able to leave on-site with potential customers, all allowing for social distancing.
- Liftshare, based in Norwich solves parking problems through their technology which include a carsharing App for a customer’s workforce, a god-send for clients like Heathrow Airport. However, it’s anticipated that after Covid-19 there will be less pressure on parking than before. Part of Liftshare’s proposition includes technology for a holistic review of a client’s Commutology need (the study of commuting), and suggests all the ways people can get to work. Therefore, they are currently in the process of re-badging this service and placing it firmly front and centre of their offering going forward.
So, to answer the original question. Is this a good time to be selling?
The answer is ‘Hell Yeah!’, there’s never been a better time to sell - providing of course you are adding value and helping solve your client’s problems.
Nicola Cook is the CEO of Company Shortcuts. The UK’s leading Sales Acceleration agency helping scale-ups build a profitable Sales Engine for Growth.
Her waitlist is open and is currently taking new applications. If you’re interested in finding out how she could help your business, for an application form contact firstname.lastname@example.org