After reading numerous articles, watching many videos, consuming around the clock news, we are all doing our best to understand the global economic impact. The pressure to effectively connect digitally is even more critical during periods of peak demand. While we all agree that just hunkering down and waiting for the next round of government aid programs to arrive is just not enough to sustain. To make it through and be ready to go on the other side, we must adapt to significant changes in how business gets done, remembering that even when the crisis is over, things are not going back to the way they were.
And now to the ACDI sales support staff, let’s begin with our customers. We need current, detailed, actionable intelligence on how the crisis is affecting them and how they are responding. Use social media to get it. Join their LinkedIn networks, Facebook networks, and the forums they participate in, not to sell but to listen, observe, and learn. Social distancing has resulted in a massive spike in social media traffic. If that is where your customers are, that is where you want to be.
Take what we are learning and connect the dots. What looks like an opportunity? How can we most help right now? How are client needs, preferences, and practices changing, and which changes are likely to continue after the pandemic? For example, even when social distancing has eased, they may still want to do more business over the Web. So, beef up your online presence, marketing, product demonstration, and educational/advisory capabilities. Think YouTube instead of face-to-face.
Don’t chase just any business. Cash is extraordinarily tight. Nevertheless, instead of increasing sales calls rigorously, drive your strategy through the sales organization. Make sure your sales team is going after your optimal ACDI target client, in terms of scope, budget, the value of our offerings, and other factors that define a successful client for ACDI.
Don’t increase reporting requirements. Focus on selling to optimal clients, not on completing spreadsheets and reports. Maintain a secure dashboard of leading indicators that provide predictive measures of success at each stage of the sales process, something ACDI does well already.
Don’t lose focus on the early stages of the pipeline. Sure, we need to close deals that are close to cash. But not at the expense of missing opportunities during the early stages of the sales process. In short, we cannot wait for another round of government stimulus. We must act now.
The bottom line, your long-term viability depends on understanding how their needs will be different when the pandemic is over. Discuss local sources of aid, private as well as public. And discuss everything the company is doing to remain viable.
Based on my anecdotal conversations with many different clients, I think a majority of ACDI’s trusted reputation comes from the relationships we tend to build throughout our “normal business” process. This still applies to each and every one of us, during this remote working style of business. “The 10x10x10 rule applies here: Say something 10 times in 10 different ways for people to retain 10%.” Today take a second to pat yourself on the back. These are trying times and you’re doing a great job. Now, let’s keep up the good work!