The CMO of a Fortune 500 company called me yesterday, livid.  She’s up to her eyeballs in pivots, working around the clock with her team and peers to change strategy, redeploy resources, all in real time.

And a young sales development representative (SDR) won’t stop calling her to get “15 minutes of her time” to show off their latest platform release.

“I know they have a job to do, but it’s a little tone deaf to keep pushing when we’re scrambling for our lives here,” she said. “I don’t think these companies realize the reputation damage they are doing right now.”

Yesterday I questioned on this blog whether selling in this crazy environment is even ethical.  The short answer, from myself and others, is yes.  But your approach, precision and cadence likely needs some adjustments

Samuel Sunderaraj is one of the best inside sales executives in Seattle, having managed and grown inside sales teams for numerous fast-growth start-ups.  I asked him yesterday afternoon how he would change an SDR’s approach, at least in the next couple weeks.

He recommended three areas of change:

  • Target List:  Be really careful about who you’re calling.  If you’re trying to reach someone in the travel or events industry, they’re likely a little busy right now.  Be even more precise about who you’re calling, when and why.
  • Message: Show empathy! Recognize no matter what industry they’re in that things are likely hair-on-fire right now.  How does your solution directly address that fire?  Can you carefully and directly connect the dots between their current top problem and how you can solve it?  Can you use this time to build trust, credibility and the foundation of a relationship that can be more appropriately converted in a couple weeks or months?
  • Resource Allocation:  This may be painful, but perhaps your SDRs could make fewer calls and do more preparation for future selling.  Work on building better lists, do more research on which prospects are worth calling and which members of the buying committee are likely going to be receptive.  Perhaps even start following, liking and otherwise engaging with the target account and buyer’s social accounts so they slowly become more familiar with your brand, before you call at a later date.