How Can I Sell, When Nobody is Buying? Is Sales Dead in the Time of COVID?

Marc Monday
4 min readApr 6, 2020

Stop Selling — Start Helping!

7-Tips: How To Help Customers During these Uncertain Times

Stop Selling, focus on Helping

It is really hard to be in sales right now. People are afraid, budgets are being slashed. Its rough out there, especially if you are a quota killer.

But being a helper is easy. Being kind is the best any of us can do. In the immortal words of Mr. Rogers, “look for the helpers in life — there are always people helping”.

In the past two weeks it’s become clear — now is not the time to sell, at least not in any traditional way. Now is the time to help, to be a helper. Shifting fundamentally from a sales representative to a helper. Its time for all of us to be helpers, not sellers.

That’s not to say companies aren’t buying right now. Some areas are experiencing explosive growth, including: anything to do with remote work, connectivity, video conferencing, security, and especially cash management. But even if you have a product customers require right now — a shift in your approach is necessary.

7-Steps to Help Customers During these Uncertain Times:

  1. No Sales Calls — only helping calls. Same is true for emails and social sales outreach.

2. Focus Calls on These 3 Things — Are you ok? Can I help? What do you need help with right now?

3. Listen — Really listen. Empathy rules the day. Everyone is stressed out. Everyone is scared. Listen to understand their needs. After the call, think about their specific pain, and see if you have a product or service that helps solve that immediate need.

4. Cash is King — Experts all agreed that businesses need to focus on cash and cash-flow. Think about how you can help your customer manage their cash positions. Leverage free trials, extended payment terms, and don’t be afraid to focus on your “good enough” product that you used to use as a door-opener. Right now is time to earn trust through help and small wins. Later when this is over, you can cross-sell and upsell to your hearts desire. Just not now.

5. Teach — while many customers may not be able to buy right now -everyone is keen to learn. Double down on your demos, tutorials, whitepapers, and virtual seminars. Measure the heck of out these and count these as wins for your sales reps.

6. Digital is Critical — gone are the days of sales reps blaming the Marketing Department for lack of leads or good content. Gone are the days of sales reps ignoring the critical aspects of digital marketing. Everyone is living in their social media streams and Google searches right now. Meet them there. Become a digital and social media marketing expert. Understand what keywords are important for your customers right now. Understand how your marketing department uses SEO/SEM. Look for your customers in places like Facebook and YouTube where they are probably looking for self-service help and support.

7. Learn — I have often heard from sales folks that they didn’t have time to truly understand their customer’s business or industry. Now is the time to focus on true customer awareness and intimacy. Take the time to go deep on their industry, geography or segment. Read about trends in their marketplace, understand their competitors and industry challenges.

Lastly a bonus point — Do Extra for your Customers — go the extra mile. Do more than you normally would. Lean in. Find ways to be a helper. Long after this is over, people will remember who the helpers were. They will look for the helpers.

The magnitude of the COVID crisis remains unclear. It appears, we will be in shutdown for longer than any of us, with the exception of maybe Bill Gates, could have expected. It’s a scary time for everyone and the economic ramifications will be sweeping over time. But don’t despair!

Cutting costs and managing cash is key for everyone, businesses of all sizes. But that doesn’t mean we should all bury our heads in the sand and stop working. As a salesperson, your company is counting on you to deliver, in-spite of the crisis. But how you deliver and what success looks like has shifted for now and probably changed in ways we don’t yet understand, forever.

Sales people are some of the most adaptive and curious people I have ever met. They are adept at shifting goals and targets. They find ways to get deals done despite any obstacle. Now is when companies need Sales Professionals the most. The best salespeople have, and will always be, helpers!

We will get through this y’all. Be Kind. Take Care of Each Other.



Marc Monday

Helping technology companies win new customers through partnerships. Building cross-functional teams driving change and transformation. Lifelong learner.