Get out your snorkel! Selling in the time of Coronavirus


My first job was selling advertising for KBPI (Rocking the Rockies for 50 years!) In radio, your success was closely tied to your ranking in the quarterly audience ratings.  Buyers who controlled the biggest media budgets would often only buy the top two or three stations in a particular demographic – no matter how much value-added you provided.

One sunny spring day my sales manager asked our team to report in the conference room for the results of the latest ratings report.  An anxious buzz filled the room as we wondered aloud whether the next three months would bring feast, famine, or something in between.  The room went quiet when my manager entered, report in hand.  He looked around the room in silence before presenting the verdict:

“Get out your snorkel – we’re going down.”

Yes, we had tanked in the ratings.  Yes, it was going to be a long couple of months and a slow slog back to the top.  But his message was not all doom and gloom.  He suggested we could dig deeper.  Reach out to customers we’d overlooked before in our search for bigger or easier fish to catch.  Customers who couldn’t afford us because rates were out of reach.  In other words, put our snorkels on and see what’s just below the surface.

It wasn’t the best quarter of my career by a long stretch, but I did develop some new client relationships that I’ve maintained to this day.  And I’ve never forgotten those words during a downtrend.  There’s a certain amount of acceptance in them.  An acknowledgement that selling in the time of Coronavirus is not what you had on your one-three-or-five year plan.  And a dash of hope that you are not entirely powerless.

Perhaps there are opportunities in areas you’ve  yet to explore.  Maybe there are some new skills you can hone or tools that will help you.   Or maybe you just need to put on your snorkel and paddle around until the way seems clear.

Whatever your path, I am wishing you good health and safe snorkeling.

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