No matter your industry, there are opportunities in every down market.
I have reminded people who sell for a living, that, “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance”, is a great place to start in this current crisis.
Precisely today I spoke with a client whose country is literally shut down except for the sale of food. They are working on developing a strategy of how they will come out of it, without knowing when.
Here are some of the steps I was able to walk them through:
1. Take Care of your team
If you are going to make an effort to get yourself, or your team, actively working on maximizing sales, you must first take care of your people, and their ability to think forward and not get stuck in the crisis. There is a great message learned from Jim Collins that he calls the Stockdale Paradox , that could be a weekly watch for anyone in or leading a sales organization.
If you are going to be ready to be successful through this crisis, you must keep you and your team’s mental state right… this is key. The team that builds on these words from Zig Ziglar ““It is your attitude, more than your aptitude, that will determine your altitude”, during the crisis, is the team that will produce high success coming out of crisis.
2. Look at where your business is at
Take stock — I mean literally take stock of inventory, resources, talent, and business partners that you need to sustain and survive in the moment, but more importantly, thrive in the future. In 2011, when the tsunami hit Japan, our major client called and said we could not invoice them for services for at least 2.5 months. We did exactly what we are now recommending, we focused our team attitude first, we evaluated our current situation, and we moved forward. What we didn’t do was curl up in a ball and hide.
The result was, that our team stayed in the hard times, and the client became more loyal that ever. The truth was, we were unable to invoice for 3.5 months, meanwhile we maintained constant communication with them and with our vendors. Note, this affected everyone involved, but developing a plan to come out of it in better shape was part of our success. In 2013, we were recognized on the INC5000 list.
As is happening now, this current situation is causing great financial pain at all levels, like never before. But, in sales, we need to stay focused on opportunities, so understanding where we are at now will help us to develop a plan for the future.
3. Build a plan to communicate with your clients
More than ever before, your clients are experiencing similar financial pain. I spoke with one organization, who because they are an essential service, are very busy, however they are worried about whether or not some clients are going to be able to pay. In another case, there is no way to sell anything, as operations have been shut down by local laws.
Regardless of the situation, you need to get a hold of your customer data lists, whether they are kept in file folders, excel, or a CRM system, and decide how you or your sales organization is going to reach out to those people you have sold to in the past. Always remember that the biggest missed opportunities are always your past and existing customers, so as you work through and come out of this crisis, the right communication with past and existing customers will make a massive difference immediately, and in the future as we pass through this crisis.
4. Be Ready to Launch
Now is the time to have everything ready, as you normally have in the past, and also to look at all of the sales tools you have not kept up perhaps as much as you should have.
Here are some examples:
- How is your website working? In sales we often ignore this communication device. Today this is the one resource where our customer can reach out at no health risk. There are at least 10 things you need to inspect on your site to make sure you are up to speed.
- Is all of your social media up-to-date, and how are you responding to requests from the social media sites you participate in?
- Who is answering the phones? Many organizations have left the building. Are you at least getting the voicemails from the calls being made to your organization, and who is responding to them?
- Salespeople could now do some online training on how to manage video communication tools, like Zoom, Google, Skype, WhatsApp, etc. Now is your chance to have you or your team upgrade their skills in some of the best tools to sell, without getting face to face.
- If you can do some personal sales training, or walk your team through training, even if it is online, with each other, or one of your sales leaders. You don’t have to invest dollars, but you should definitely invest the time while it is available.
5. Be patient
I do not claim to predict when the economy is going to come back. What I am convinced of, is that it will come back, and in a different way. The sales individuals and organizations that prepare for when it does come back will certainly perform better. The key is to act in a positive and proper direction today, and continue looking forward.
These are steps that are not always easy to execute, and do require you to develop an overall strategy. For those of you who are committed to your growth, we are happy to provide a FREE no obligation one-hour session for you or your organization, no selling on our part, and focus the conversation SOLELY on helping you to lay out a strategy that will improve your chance for success in this current environment.
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