Business books written in the last 20 years certainly did not envision the current challenges posed by COVID-19.
Whatever you thought 2020 would look like for your company is now a completely different picture. Any plan to achieve revenue objectives in the short term should be carefully reviewed with more than the usual amount of patience (at least for Q2). Every business in America is unsure about a recovery timeline, although most business leaders remain optimistic that their businesses will eventually recover.
The best thing business leaders can do right now is help current clients. Stay engaged: call and talk with them, listen to their concerns, and follow up frequently – everyone is facing versions of the same uncertainty.
It’s time to “lean in” to client relationships to offer support and deepen your business and personal connections!
What Other Companies Are Doing
The time to over-communicate with clients and customers is when times are uncertain. Take a page from some of the big players. News organizations are offering online coronavirus pandemic coverage free to non-subscribers. Verizon and AT&T, respectively, are adding 15GB of high-speed data for free to mobile customers’ plans right now, and waving data overage charges and late payment fees for wireless customers.
Why? Because it’s something they can do to help people. It demonstrates understanding and empathy that we are all in this together. Above all, it’s good business.
I have a number of clients and affiliates extending similar offers for the same reasons. For example, TCI, a managed infrastructure solutions provider, is offering clients 6 months of unlimited free access to their business-class video collaboration platform. Ostendio, an integrated risk management solution company, is letting clients add additional users to their platforms at no extra charge (as well as providing a free COVID-19 risk assessment template to their clients). The Institute for Excellence in Sales used to hold one in-person speaker event each month; they’re now producing a remarkable four free webinars a week to help sales people continue to hone their craft and remain encouraged during this time of ever-increasing unemployment.
It’s absolutely amazing the number of virtual tools we all have at our disposal that enable nearly real-time interaction with others. Make good use of them for frequent contact with clients, and think creatively about what you can offer clients during this time that will strengthen your relationship.
Take Care of Those Who Matter Most
If you can’t keep the revenue pipeline moving forward at the same velocity as before, think about nurturing the relationships that you do have.
As a business or sales leader you have a lot of people who depend on you, but start with yourself. Get enough sleep, have a structured work calendar, get plenty of exercise, and make time for reflection. Good self-care can make the difference between thriving and merely surviving when the only thing you can really control is your response to the current situation.
While the business environment is troubling, you’ll also have to be a beacon of encouragement to your family and employees. Both are looking for leadership and direction. Your family needs your optimism and encouragement. Employees especially are looking for clarity and honesty. They need to understand leadership’s response to the crisis, what your plan is, and what you expect from them.
So, give people what they need: an understanding of the business’s big picture, how it affects them, and empathy for your shared situation. Be calm, be clear, and be part of the team.
Strengthen a Sense of Community
To manage well in a crisis, build a sense of community:
- Regularly communicate with your team, and do everything you can to keep the team intact and working effectively together
- Regularly communicate with current clients, and seek first to help them
- Make sure your words and actions are reflective of your company values and culture
- Weigh short-term actions against your long-term goals – don’t turn long-term plans inside out because of a panicked desire to take action
- Stay consistent with employee performance reviews, giving people MORE feedback than usual – they need to know they are making a positive impact
- Make sure your sales force has all the virtual tools they need to continue to do their work
We are all in this together, struggling with a new reality. Right now, you’re here to support your team and support your clients as they fight for the survival of their own businesses. In the short run, you may not be able to generate the revenue you once expected. But if you continue to anticipate and serve the needs of your current clients as best you can, I guarantee you that the revenue will come.
Are you having difficulty breaking through to the next level in revenue growth? Could you use an experienced, outside perspective to diagnose your sales issues and build a plan to address them?
Sometimes, you need a guide to find the right path forward.
Sales Growth Advisors provides outsourced sales leadership services for small and mid-sized businesses – so your sales engine runs the way it is supposed to.