Mastering Sales During a Crisis

Feb 19, 2024 | Sales

I have had a number of questions from sales people lately.  Some are concerned about the next 30 to 60 days and are looking for direction. Others are using the time to change how they sell.  They have been selling face to face, asking for statements, and doing their best to save a merchant money. 

“The question most are pondering is this, how do you sell without selling? “
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“The question most are pondering is this, how do you sell without selling? “

Make the Commitment

Many say it’s impossible, but I can attest it is very likely.  If you genuinely want to maintain and even grow your portfolio, there is no better time than now to master this process.  It begins by fully committing to the process.  

To stop selling (and still sell), you must first stop selling.  Don’t begin any call with anything resembling a sales pitch.  Here are two examples of an opening:

Good afternoon.  I hope you are staying safe.  I am calling to check in with local merchants and see how they handle the current situation.


Good Afternoon.  I hope this finds you and your family safe.  Times are tough.  I am calling merchants I know to see how they are handling the situation and how I might be able to help.

Notice the tone in both.  The key is to have them talk, and your goal is to identify these three things:

  1. How are they operating today
  2. What changes have they put in place to stay open
  3. What challenges do they feel they are facing

Encourage them to talk by prompting them with comments like “how are handling that” and ‘tell me more”.

At this point, repeat what you have heard.  For example, if it’s a restaurant, you might have heard they only do curbside pickup.  You may have also heard that their sales are down as much as 40%.  If this is the case, you would repeat in this fashion:

I hear similar comments from other merchants like you.  They see sales down, and their only option is curbside pickup or pay for a delivery, a cost they hope to eliminate.  The one comment I hear often is that they weren’t prepared to pivot immediately.  How have you handled it?

Notice the tone in both.  The key is to have them talk, and your goal is to identify these three things:

Adapt and Adjust

Adapt your response in a form that fits this approach.  Notice, not once have you said you have something for them, nor have you referenced anything they should consider.  What you have done is identified their concerns and let them know you are listening.   Now is not the time to offer a solution.  You’re not selling, remember?

At this point, ask more detailed questions, but in a conversational form.  Ask them how they are addressing the online ordering?  Ask them if they are using the phone, are they concerned that some orders are lost?  Have they reached out to their consumers in any fashion?

Now it’s time for you to offer your services.  Explain that your current merchant partners are all in the same boat.  They are struggling for survival just like them.  As such, you would like to offer your help to them as well.  Be prepared to discuss certain solutions that fit their current need (like online ordering or contacting their consumers).  Don’t sell it, just explain it.

Point out how it has helped your partners.  Depending on the product, there are features or costs that have been waived, since most merchants shouldn’t be paying to survive.  Let them know you have it available – but then let them talk.  Get them to ask questions.



Congratulations. You have just sold without selling.  If they show any interest, offer to help them the same way.  You are giving back to the community. 

This form of selling addresses the critical question all merchants have, “what’s in it for me?” and is purely a snapshot of a process. It will work today, and by mastering it, you will find you are selling in this fashion after our current situation eases.  You won’t have to ask, “show me your statement, and I will save you money.”   

There is one side effect you will find by selling by not selling: happier merchants and more straightforward sales. I encourage you to reach out and let’s discuss the complete process.  

Let’s talk through how to make this change.