Episode OneHundredSeventyOne

Should You Be Selling During the Crisis?

Guest: Shruti Kapoor, CEO of Wingman

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About This Episode

You have something to sell, but you’re not sure whether now is the right time.

Or, if you know your product can help, how do you educate about its value?

Most of us are in this position right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why I was so pumped to speak with Shruti Kapoor, CEO of Wingman, about her sales coaching tips for the current climate.

Shruti is no stranger to crises — she was an undergraduate in life sciences during the SARS outbreak and was in investment banking during the 2008 financial crisis.

“Coming from a different background, I could feel a lot of the holes, a lot of the pain, a lot of the lack of data in the CRM,” Shruti said. “That inspired me to start working on Wingman to make the lives of salespeople better.”

Polar opposite opinions

Shruti has interviewed about 50 sales leaders about how they’re adapting to the current situation. 

They’ve been saying completely different things:

  • Put a freeze on selling.
  • Sell more than ever.

How do salespeople find the line between the prescription of selling as insensitive and the need to avoid complete inactivity?

“I began to question what was causing the difference on those two sides,” Shruti said.

  1. Who were they selling to? Even more, who were their customers selling to?
  2. How did they view their product and whether it fit in with the current situation?

Even if you’re selling a SaaS tool that helps with collaboration in the remote world… but your customers are in the restaurant business… it’s probably a bad time.

The other major questions that business leaders are asking right now are: How do I sell? How do I prospect during this time?

If you shouldn’t be selling…

If you shouldn’t be selling, then you have to solve the problem of allocating your sales team’s time and resources.

Shruti suggests that industries that probably shouldn’t be selling should still keep doing two things.

1. Keep calling

“You still need to be having some conversations because that helps you stay real and stay connected right now,” Shruti said.

Going back and connecting with your existing customers is ideal, especially since it often helps to build empathy within sales and marketing.

But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the entire pipeline. “I strongly urge people to go out there and still make those calls, but do that with a lot more of an empathetic tone,” Shruti said.

“It’s much easier for you to build rapport and start a conversation today with anybody in the world than it probably has been before,” she pointed out.

2. Think long term

Invest in the longer term growth projects that tend to get pushed aside during normal times.

Your dream of creating a newsletter or podcast? Perfect timing for that.

You’ve been meaning to create sales enablement or training materials? Now’s your opportunity.

“Those types of projects can be great for keeping the morale of the team up because you feel that something beneficial is coming out at the end of it all,” Shruti said.

If you should be selling…

Organizations that have a product or service that can help right now need to educate people about what’s available without seeming insensitive.

Shruti’s best practices for selling right now focus on mindset and tone.

“When people go in today to those conversations, they need to be aware of the mindset that the buyer is in,” she said.

  • Most organizations are fighting for every dollar right now.
  • More decision-makers are involved than ever before.
  • The person you’re talking to can’t make a decision immediately — or even soon.

“The best advice I have seen is to reduce the pressure of a sales-based decision to happen there and then,” Shruti said.

She suggested preempting that stress by acknowledging they might not be evaluating tools and vendors and that their budget is probably frozen.

Then — and this is important — make the pitch to present the value.

Even better if you can offer something helpful for free or at a significantly reduced cost.

Two potential outcomes of the value-based pitch:

  1. People have more bandwidth to learn and research what you are offering with a longer term perspective.
  2. In half a year, they’ll absolutely remember whether you reached out with the right tone when you follow up with them.

“If you’ve been somebody who’s poor at follow ups, you’re going to lose out a lot,” Shruti said.

This is why you shouldn’t stop selling altogether. Instead, you should shift your mindset to encompass much longer term sales.

“You’re going to sow these little seeds, but if you’re not going to put in the watering and the effort, you’re not going to harvest at the end of the six months,” Shruti said. “That’s what’s going to determine what happens when the winter is over.”

Be sure to follow Shruti on LinkedIn to learn more of her insights on sales during the crisis.

For more engaging sales conversations, subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.

About The Podcast

The Sales Engagement podcast is the #1 podcast focused on engaging your customers and prospects in the modern sales era. This show features real-life stories and best practices from revenue leaders doing the job day in and day out, in a casual, radio-like talk show.

Each episode features modern tactics, strategies, hacks, and tips to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy and help you navigate the next generation of sales. You’ll find energetic talks that will provide you with real actionable value around building meaningful connections and creating a better selling experience through authentic conversations that you can measure.

The Sales Engagement podcast is here to help B2B sales leaders, customer success leaders, and marketing leaders innovate and usher in the next era of modern sales by building pipeline, up-selling customers, and ultimately generating more revenue with more efficiency.

Hosted by Joe Vignolo, Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach, and Mark Kosoglow, Vice President of Sales at Outreach.

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