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The holding pattern in sales. 3 things to do when the market disappears 

The holding pattern in sales. 3 things to do when the market disappears. 

It was dusk over the skies of Thailand and we were heading for an early landing in to Bangkok on our way back from Krabi airport, a short flight across the country. But then we banked left, and left again, and again. We were going round in circles and as I look out the window I could see other airplanes in my field of vision, forming an orderly queue behind us. We are in a holding pattern. 

Turns out there are several reasons for entering a holding pattern but from this time of recounting this trip to Bangkok I realised there was little we could do. The weather was awful, unsuitable for planes to land safely and to do so could put us all at risk. The most productive thing for us to do was to simply wait; to sit in a holding pattern over the skies of Thailand.

Weather, the most common reason for holding, has resulted in an aircraft not willing or able to proceed.

Things in business happen that are out of our control. Sometimes something happens so destabilising within your market and your sector that overnight your market can seemingly disappear. The selling weather is unprecedented and I urge those whose market has paused to revert to the holding pattern of sales.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the business outlook for the short, medium and most likely the long term for most sectors. We have been plunged, through no fault of our own, into uncertainty, unknown waters and dunked into adapting to new ways of working. Aside from the surge in ‘zoom experts’ I keep seeing everywhere, I got to thinking what more productive work can you do to position yourself now for the midterm and long term future.

Zoom, and other digital communication platforms are great. The rise in online networking too is great. But I bet most people on these events have got such an urgency to ‘sell’ that they forgo any sense of modern selling and simply scream from the digital heaves about their product, their actions, their price, with little regard for the others on the call.

The amount of connection requests selling me SEO services, PPC campaigns and other professional services has shot through the roof. It is insensitive, poorly times and certainly missing the mark.

Like many, the market place of buyers may well have disappeared. Literally gone with no buyer need, want or authority to make a purchase. So simply shouting about your own product in this way to a group of people who are not in a position to trade with you is fruitless and you must now start to adapt your positioning.

If your market has disappeared overnight, what do you do?!

I want to talk to you about the holding pattern. What do I mean by this? Well, in a time when your buyer isn’t buying there is little point in trying to sell. So how can you stay productive? In a connected and increasingly digital world, the time now to build a more robust online presence that reflects your brand, your persona and your position in a way that connects with potential buyers.

Here are three ideas to help you not sell in a time when no one is buying to help you be relevant and be a go-to person in your sector when the time is right and the market re-emerges.

Three things salespeople can do when your market disappears
1. Get known for something

People don’t just buy from people. In most cases they buy from people like themselves. We live in a world of infinite information where nothing is particularly new but how it is shared and disseminated across an audience is what matters now. By becoming known for something we align our values with a specific set of people. Think about this from an everyday perspective;

You can take a position, and it’s ok to so, rather it is your responsibility to do so. Share your thoughts, engage people in your knowledge and apply the context of your opinion to their situation.

If over half of B2B buyers are active on social media, building their networks, getting bombarded by daily messages to buy, buy, buy, then it is time now to get known for something that isn’t selling.

Become the expert, the go-to person that knows the topic better than anyone. Being known for constantly ‘selling’ isn’t a nice thing to be known for, is it? Whereas getting known as the leading voice for your sector and your marketplace – with the customer in mind – is a much more fruitful place to be.

I can’t count the times I have gone to physical networking events or conferences and people greet me with ‘oh, it’s you!’ ‘I know you!’. I have never met these people yet it feels like they know me. This is fantastic don’t you think! I have engaged and positioned by content and my network in a way that make me familiar to them so that when we do meet in person or at an online networking meeting, I am already known!

How to get known?
  1. Talk about how your industry is changing
  2. Share thoughts on how wider issues affect the market
  3. Share your expert knowledge with a personality that suits the ideal customer
  4. Have an opinion that encourages healthy debate
  5. Contribute to other people’s’ conversation in a positive and supportive manner
  6. Like and share posts from others’ in your network that you think might be relevant to your ideal customer.
2. Get Trusted

We know that a key benefit of modern selling is the ability to build deeper relationships with clients; 31% of B2B sellers cite more meaningful relationships as a key outcome for modern selling.

90% of businesses and consumers will only buy from people and companies they trust ( . Building trust is vital for our personal integrity but also our ability to attract referals, bolster our position of being known for something and position ourselves as an authority in our field.

How to get trusted?
  1. Share how you help others solve their problem
  2. Talk as an expert in your industry
  3. Share your awards, recognition or testimonials
  4. Build your recommendations on social media

3. Build the relevant network that wants to know someone they can trust

We’ve all heard the adage your network is your net worth? So take some time when you have it to deliberately, productively and proactively build your professional network, so when you are getting known for something and trusted within your market it is with people who are relevant to your strategy and authority as a seller.

I see many sales professionals and marketers building their connections on LinkedIn to such a number that is proves something…to them. These numbers are vanity unless you are building your connections list and network in a strategic way.

  • Who do you want to connect with?
  • What referral partners can you team up with?
  • Who are you positioning your products and services for?
  • Why should the people you are connecting with want to connect with you (see point one and two)?

Use LinkedIn and social media to your advantage.

If your market for selling has disappeared, us the time you have to productively build a network now so that when the market returns you can more easily engage in meaningful relationships that make sense to the recipient.

  1. Scrub up your LinkedIn and social profiles
  2. Set yourself a realistic connections target
  3. Do you have a business page? Keep this active too and guide people to this page. 

Sitting in a holding pattern can be frustrating. Like my time circling Bangkok airport for what seemed like hours, my time seemed lost. We are in a holding pattern now, the selling weather is awful and forcing a landing now will do more harm than good.  It is on us as sellers to react to this. We can sit back and endlessly mull over lost opportunities or bemoan the lack of sales or we can think proactively and plan now for brighter times so when the runway comes in to view, when the weather clears and when our market returns, we are in prime position to land. I know which position I am taking!

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