Selling During Times of Sorrow

A lot of people have been asking about selling during times of sorrow, times when the world has been flipped upside-down due to a tragic event. Presently, salespeople have to understand the best ways to sell during periods of terrible sorrow. Years ago, sellers did not hear about bad news often unless they read the paper or listened to the radio. It must have been easier to continue to sell when your clients were not aware of what was taking place in the news.  We all felt it after September 11th, the feeling that we were out of place if we were making a sale.  The uncomfortable feeling of calling someone and not knowing if they were personally affected by the catastrophe.  There wasn’t a lot of education and discussion on this topic, and what was making news were stories of salespeople that were price gauging during this time.

During life changing and sad events, sales must continue, and salary and commission earned and reps working to meet their goals.   What we haven’t discussed is proper protocol during tragedy and how to work with your sales team to make sure that they are prepared to handle selling during sorrow. It’s amendable to sell something when you have the need, but what happens when you must sell after there has just been a horrible occurrence in the world or your neighborhood.  What is the right thing to do as a salesperson?

We suggest that leaders offer time for their reps to discuss the situations and come up with some great alternatives to the sales discussion with a client. A ‘sales’ meeting is a good time to bring up this issue and make sure that you have covered what is on your team’s mind.  Salespeople should be empathetic and take the time to listen to their customer as well.  Make sure that the time is right for sales conversation and ensure that you are amenable to offering alternative meeting times.  It is important that you are understanding and comfortable with being flexible.  If the client wants to discuss the situation, I think that lending an ear is an excellent way to build your relationship.  Don’t take any political sides, but just be there in case your call ends up with your prospect having first-hand knowledge of the situation and being personally affected.

Salespeople know that we must always pick up the phone and smile and be passionate about what we are selling.  If you are sad, troubled and worried about making a sales call during turbulent days, then we suggest not selling and taking the time to work on your pipeline. Try to take a day or two, and do other tasks that you have had on your to-do list.   There is always the next day to make your calls.

One salesperson shared, “If I felt the client was upset and distracted, then I would recommend another time and make sure they understood that I was flexible and understanding of how this was affecting them, and everyone. There were times that I would make a call just to offer comfort and make sure their family is safe.”

Paying attention to the news is important for salespeople. 

 Download a breaking-news app, get information feed sent to your email – simply, be aware of current events, have empathy for the world, and sell smartly even during times of sorrow.


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