After months of a global pandemic response, including economic shutdowns, everyone has been thrown off balance.
The hurt will be here for a while, and as I’ve pointed out in a recent article, resiliency is what you must summon now—not later—to position yourself for the coming recovery.
Doing so is how you’ll snap into a sales-focused posture. Not just back to one like the way things once were—but better and stronger.
Your professional and personal recovery from this major setback must never hinge on external factors first. Don’t wait for someone else to solve your problems: whether that’s waiting for things to reopen or for your customers to start calling again.
Instead, focus on what remains very much within your control right now.
There are four activity areas you must get serious about now as part of resetting your balance so you’re ready to tackle big changes in the marketplace.
Personal preparedness comes first.
This area is taking action now to ensure good health, rock-solid safety and reliable metrics. Health-wise, this is the time to get cleaned up. Put an end to anxiety-fuelled bad habits (which were understandable during hardship of the last few months). Instead have a renewed focus on mental and physical wellness. You owe it to yourself to get back to having a good diet and regular exercise. Personal safety is just as important. Ensure you have appropriate PPE now for meeting clients soon—no exceptions. You have a duty to keep others and yourself safe. Lastly, take time to clean up your sales pipeline and micromanage the metrics you use to measure your performance. You won’t adapt unless you know what’s changed.
Get your sales strategy preparedness plan in gear.
This activity area emphasizes the importance of having a strategic focus, reframed messaging and sensible expansion plans. First: focus on where the money is in your marketplace now—not where it was in 2019. Sellers who get this are already succeeding. Do that by creating an account plan for your top clients in which you define a clear objective to be met through your sales activities executed virtually. Yes, plan to be in the office more in the upcoming year as travel continues to be curtailed and customers limit the number of suppliers they are allowed to see.
With respect to messaging, you must reframe how you communicate with customers now to match this pandemic reality. Ask how you can be of service to them so they can be both profitable and safety minded in their care of their employees. Lastly, look for growth areas where you can expand your footprint sensibly within your client’s domain. Remember: companies are actively reducing their supplier list at this very moment. Now is the time to do the legwork to stay on the list of essential suppliers.
Organize your schedule with mobility and flexibility in mind.
Become a master at selling remotely, and of being flexible in how you meet customers. That means taking a hard look at how you used to fill your business calendar. Where it was once all face-to-face meetings, look at how much of that needs to stay the same and what can be converted to online meetings. Prioritize face-to-face appointments with local clients and those prospects with whom you were very close to closing new business before the economic shutdown took effect. Those are meetings that can be held quickly, safely and to maximum effect. Greatly expand your use of mobile and remote video conferencing for everyone else. That includes clients that would otherwise necessitate international travel, unqualified prospects, client reviews as well as training and marketing. Make it stress-free for people to do business with you.
Leverage the personal side to your corporate marketing efforts.
A large percentage of organizations I’m working with right now quickly cut their marketing teams down to the bone. But the job of marketing hasn’t gone away. As a professional seller, this is your opportunity to fill some of those gaps with personal-focused branding work. Each one of your clients has a desire to feel seen and heard—especially now. So maximize your social outreach via LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook (I will have much more to say about that in an upcoming article). Develop a well-balanced pipeline with a healthy mix of opportunities that are large and small, simple and complex. Don’t delay scheduling those appointments with customers and prospects. Get started now to create a full schedule for July and August.
We all know that recovery from this pandemic will take time. But getting back on balance will not if you do it right. The sooner you do this—implementing each of these four activity areas—the sooner you will be able to turn this difficult challenge into an opportunity of a lifetime to grow bigger, stronger and more robust for a changed economy.