By Tom Fournier
This is a period of unprecedented disruption for all of us.
There is disruption in our business lives. There is also disruption and perhaps hardship in our personal lives.
Some businesses are finding themselves quite busy while others have had the rug pulled out from under them.
I offer a few thoughts for those that are impacted by all that is going on.
Manage your intake of the news. It is easy to get obsessed and overwhelmed to the point where it preoccupies all of your thinking. Define a couple of periods of times for news updates. The details or the statistics will not change that much in the intervening time periods!
Have focused office time devoted to work tasks. Work time is for work. Stay off of social media. Consider turning off notifications to eliminate distractions.
Have a set of tasks outlined at the start of each day. I like including at least one live interaction with a customer or a member of my “industry”.
If there are no immediate customer-oriented tasks then look for opportunities for self improvement (webinars) or business improvement (business process items or the development of new offerings or approaches).
Companies that invest during a downtown tend to recover more quickly as circumstances improve.
Investment does not have to be financial; it can also be energy and effort.
When it comes to customer outreach (selling), experts are advising to focus on past or current customers, everyone’s business dynamic is different but for many it may not be a good time to look for new customers. Try not to appear opportunistic instead be caring and helpful even if it does not generate revenue at this time.
I have been doing this through emails, text messages, phone calls and also trying to expand my network with new connections primarily on LinkedIn.
Remember when networking or reaching out, it may take a while to realize a return on investment. Meetings and conversations that I had in November are realizing results now. (Naturally nurturing work occurred along the way but some opportunities take time to manifest themselves).
Think to the Future
The world and how people work, shop, interact and socialize will change. Out of necessity it has already changed. How much of this will be retained as part of a “new normal”?
Where are your future business opportunities going to be? Will technologies, behavioural shifts and cultural shifts create new opportunities that you might be able to anticipate and plan for now?
If you manage a sales organization, how many of your selling efforts have currently shifted to e-commerce transactions or phone selling? Customers who in the past may have demanded face to face sales support have now gotten used to a new form of support. How much of that can be retained in the future, shifting your sales model in a new, lower cost and more efficient direction with more emphasis on e-commerce and inside sales?
This does not necessarily have to come at the expense of your outside sales representatives. It may be an opportunity to free up their capacity for more new business development!
It is hard to determine when but this period of disruption will pass. But in time, it will pass. Why not show leadership in the form of an upbeat attitude and a willingness to offer help and support?
I can think of no other way to act.
Please stay safe and healthy!
Tom Fournier, founder of the Shade's Mills Group, history enthusiast and happy walker!