Continue to Listen to Customers During Risky Times

BY Rachel Cagle
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If you are still hiding from your clients hoping that staying off their radar will keep them from cancelling their account with you, you are only hurting your business. We are now about seven months into the COVID-​19 pandemic, which has proven to be twice as bad as the Great Recession of 2007 through 2009, according to Austin Ries, writing for Selling Power. If your clients were not already cutting expenses in order to save money, they are now. And guess who they are going to cut first after conducting a review? That’s right, the business partner who has remained silent throughout this whole debacle. They want to work with professionals who reach out and listen to customers.

Listen to Customers

This is sales 101. Hopefully you actively listen to customers as part of your normal business strategy. If you haven’t and have been wondering why you’re having so much trouble meeting your sales quota, now you know what a big part of the problem is. Here are some preliminary tips for you to go over before you read on.

Even sales reps who practice active listening may be missing a crucial part of the process, especially in times of turmoil such as this year. You shouldn’t make your customers come to you every time they have a problem. They are just as, if not more, busy than you are. With the economy the way it is right now, they’re scrambling around trying to keep their company functioning as close to business-​as-​usual as possible. They’re facing more problems in their company than they likely ever have and it’s difficult to keep up with them all. That’s where you come in.

Reach out and listen to customers. How the pandemic has changed the way they’re doing business is important to you as well. What has changed in the way they’re operating? Does the current product or service you sold them still fit into that mix? If not, is there another product or service you could offer that could fulfill a new need of your customer’s? Is there more you could be doing to help them?

These are questions you need to have answered in order to maintain a good business relationship with your current clients. “One of the most effective ways you can build loyal and long-​term customer relationships is through routine customer surveys,” says Ries. These will help you, “get a complete picture of your customer's current mindset, and respond accordingly.”

Why Reach Out?

Reaching out to clients may seem to hold more risk than possible reward right now. After all, I did just point out that people are trying to save money wherever they can and likely won’t be buying from you anytime soon. So, what’s the point?

Remember how treating your clients like fellow human beings and expressing empathy toward them is an important part of sales? That’s especially true right now. They may not have anything to offer you at the moment except the continuation of their contract. But when you listen to customers, even when there is nothing to gain financially, that’s when they know for sure that all your empathetic gestures during the sales process weren’t just for show. You truly care about what they’re going through and how you can help. When they know this without a doubt, even if they have to cancel a contract for now, there’s a better chance that they will come back when things are back to business-as-usual.