With many businesses cutting budgets and people pinching pennies because of COVID-19, your sales approach is more important than ever.

This was the topic during a virtual session presented by Brian Williams. Brian is a sales consultant who works with green industry consultants and Lawn & Landscape columnists Bruce Wilson & Co. During the session, he gave his five tips for having a better sales meeting, which I think could help with business development efforts in 2020 and beyond.

Brian Horn, editor, Lawn & Landscape

1. Connect and build rapport.

Always have video if you are meeting virtually because research shows that the brain processes information through words, vocal tone and through body language. Video has all three. “If you are on a phone call, the brain is saying, ‘I’m only getting about 45% of what I need to understand.’”

2. 70/30 time rule.

This means 70% of the time you are in a sales meeting, you should be listening and 30% you should be talking. Williams had a meeting where the first 40 minutes was just talking about family and what was going on in world. He didn’t think he’d get the business, but he did. “I just listened to what they were going through, what their challenges and concerns were – if they had fears,” he says. “I didn’t pitch a product. I said, ‘Can you explain that more,’” and he got his notebook out and took notes.

3. Show empathy.

You will most likely meet with potential clients who have been personally affected by COVID-19 and who are genuinely scared and confused about what is happening. You have to be quiet and process their words carefully. “We have to have the empathy to understand their concerns,” he says.

“Some of these tips you may have been practicing before COVID-19 hit, but now you may have to make them the lead items in your sales approach because the world has changed.”

4. Mirroring.

If the potential client is having a great day, then be excited about that. If they are having a terrible day, tone down the enthusiasm and get the details on what they are going through.

5. Deal with the issues.

Potential clients might want to avoid talking about the ugly problems they are having, but you can’t avoid talking about those uncomfortable areas. “Get deep in the weeds with them and deal with the issue,” he says.

Some of these tips you may have been practicing before COVID-19 hit, but now you may have to make them the lead items in your sales approach because the world has changed.

“Yesterday’s keys won’t fit into today’s locks,” Williams says. – Brian Horn