From the September 2003 issue of Entrepreneur

In Times of Crisis
If war is being waged and you happen to sell gas masks, how do you market without customers feeling like they're getting hosed?

Selling products related to a current crisis is a delicate task. "Remember to sell security vs. the product itself," says James C. Turner, a counter-terrorism expert and the author of Threat Assessment (The Haworth Press).

To develop a meaningful sales dialogue with prospects:

  • Ask questions. Understand the threat prospects fear. Ask what might make them vulnerable, then recommend products.
  • Demonstrate your expertise. If you sell gas masks, inform prospects of true fatality rates from smoke inhalation-not bombs-and how a respirator might be a better purchase. This shows customers you have their best interests in mind.
  • Recommend an emergency protocol. Turner helps firms develop response systems so they're prepared during an emergency.
  • Impart the local angle with customers. Risks vary from region to region, so you would discuss earthquake risks in California and tornado risks in the Midwest.

Just remember: Sell cautiously so your business doesn't end up a casualty.

QUICK PICK

Women currently make or influence up to 85 percent of all consumer purchases, so isn't it time you started marketing to them? "Marketing to women is no longer just mere window dressing to comply with political correctness. It is a necessary element to be successful in today's marketplace," says Delia Passi Smalter, founder of Medelia Communications, an Irvington, New York, company that develops programs specifically to sell to women.

At the company's Web site, www.medelia.com, you can boost your female IQ through a variety of instructional audio programs-most of which cost less than $20. These practical and tactical suggestions may be just what you or your sales team need to close the deal when marketing to women.

-E.G.

Marketing consultant and speaker Elizabeth Goodgold is the author of Duh! Marketing Awards (www.duhmarketing.com).