What to Say When the Coronavirus Comes Up on Sales Calls

by Rowen Gray | April 3rd, 2020

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So what should you say when the coronavirus comes up on your calls? Well, you need to balance two things: empathy and business objectives.  You can do this by being completely human, pivoting to business, and then establishing credibility. Keep reading to see how.  

1. Be Human

The second the Coronavirus comes up, be entirely human.  Replace business talk with empathy. Replace booking a meeting or closing a deal with talking about the situation we’re all going through. 

Ask your prospects about their experience.  What have they had to do and what are they going through? Be as “you” focused as possible.  Don’t be afraid to get personal. Here are some examples, 

  •  “What’s it like in St. Louis?”
  • “How is your team working remotely?”
  • “Are you home with your kids?”

When asking these questions, make sure they are genuine. Your tone and language are everything. Be as empathetic as you can be. Don’t worry about not knowing the person well enough to ask these questions, because we’re all in this situation.  

Next, share a small quick personal anecdote about you. Usually, on sales calls, it’s best not to mention yourself, but there’s an exception in light of the Coronavirus. By sharing a quick personal experience or story, you humanize the situation.  

If your prospect is remote, it is fairly easy to talk about your situation because many people have different remote experiences. 

Try something like, “Hey, I totally get it, for me personally, we are all remote.  So far it’s been interesting. Yesterday, {insert story}.”

In your story, make sure you give some detail and describe your experience.  A lot of times sharing will spark some interest or curiosity which helps create a bond.  People are interested in different situations other people are in. 

2. Pivot to the business objective 

After you talked about their situation in light of Coronavirus, you’re going to have to transition.  What does the pivot look like? It has to be very explicit.

“Putting everything with the coronavirus aside for just a second…” 

Use this phrase and then dive into how you can help. 

This phrase has two outcomes.  Either they agree with you and Coronavirus is mutually put away or they don’t and you are in a Coronavirus rebuttal battle, which is a tough situation. But, the situation is not impossible. Not everyone will be ready to talk business.  Give it some time and then gently try to guide them back to the reason you’re both on this call. 

3. Provide Credibility to give reassurance and put the customer first

At this point, you’re talking business. You’re asking discovery questions and are about to go for the ask. This is a critical moment where you want to give context and supply 3rd party support. Help them recognize that although many people are not meeting some are and, they might be one of them. Let them know that considering your product/service at this time is a reasonable thing to do. 

Use one of these phrases:  

  • “You know a lot of companies we are talking to don’t want to invest but some companies need to get their _(what you offer)__ right” 
  • “You know a lot of companies we are talking to don’t want to invest but some are and they are trying to make their remote schedule {replace as necessary} as effective as possible.”

Make sure they understand that you fully understand the situation.  Bring it back to empathy. Acknowledge the situation. Have some facts to back your statement up. You should have already talked to your customers so that you really know what their business looks like and how they are doing. 

Yes, the world is in a time of major uncertainty and change.  This doesn’t mean it’s time to drop everything business-related. You can still sell, just handle selling delicately. Be human, pivot to business, and give credibility. If you follow this article, you will set you and your team up for success.  Don’t forget empathy and don’t let your business fall behind.  

Click here to watch the full training recording.