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updated: 10/14/2020 11:43 AM

Being a salesperson in 2020

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Today's sales professional must deal with many more issues than in the past where the biggest problem might have been product and price comparison to a competitor. Dealing with the pandemic has forced salespeople to better understand the psychological impact of anxiety on their prospect as "fear of the unknown future" has created uncertainty in the present which influences the buyer-seller relationship.

Virtual sales calls have become the norm until prospects feel comfortable allowing salespeople to enter their premises and the simplicity of Qualify, Present and Close is a distant memory with all that is happening today.

I shuttered my business on March 19 and sent a colleague of mine a text that we will close for two weeks to let this pass. That thought is one of the more laughable ones I have expressed in my 26 years in professional development. During the time between then and now, I have had many great lessons:

1. Relationships take longer to develop.

The lack of face-to-face contact has slowed the development of business relationships and the bonding process feels artificial. The normal skepticism baked into the buyer-seller relationship has been magnified, and salespeople must be more human and ask questions that display genuine interest to gain trust. The buyer relationship must be prioritized above the sale.

2. Prospects are skeptical and slow to act.

Most prospects have responded to the pandemic by cutting expenses, getting as lean as possible and building a war chest to deal with the uncertainty of the future. They are reluctant to spend this fund as it is a security blanket to cover potential future financial interruptions. Salespeople must directly link their product or service to the prospect's bottom line to gain attention as well as faster action.

3. Features and benefits are no longer important.

Salespeople who sell utilizing features and benefits are finding that this approach does not stimulate the buying process. Features and benefits intellectually arouse curiosity or casual interest which is a very low motivator to make a purchase. Prospects buy when the "see" the product/service moving them from where they are now to where they are committed to be.

4. Anxiety creates procrastination.

Most humans are experiencing some form of anxiety regarding the pandemic that is inhibiting their decision-making process.

Prospects are taking more time than ever as the fear of making a costly decision that could adversely influence their business triggers the psychological state of "fear of failure." The main question they ask themselves is, "Do I really have to make this decision now?"

5. An abundant mindset is the key to the future.

Salespeople must control their mindset of abundance or scarcity and abundant thinking is a mindset that can literally change everything while a scarcity mindset holds the future hostage. Wayne Dyer, famous self-help author and one of my mentors said, "Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we dial into." If you have a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset, you can surmount any challenge presented to you.

Understanding the impact of the pandemic on a prospect's thinking plays a critical role in the buyer-seller relationship. We need to learn what the captain of the Titanic found out the hard way, "90% of the answer is below the surface." Go conquer your worlds.

• Bill Bartlett owns Corporate Strategies, A Sandler Training Center. bbartlett@sandler.com. Text "salestip" to 35893 to receive Bill's biweekly newsletter.