I’ve spoken a lot about the sales rollercoaster. How you can experience great growth and you’re riding high, then the inevitable slump comes, and you find yourself at the bottom again.
This is the part where many people get stuck; discouragement is a dangerous thing and can lead to self-doubt, which begets a loss of confidence and more rejection. However, this vicious circle can be broken if you use the momentum you had to push yourself back up the hill.
These days, everyone is facing a slump, and finding it a challenge to stay afloat in their business as concerns over COVID-19 and a suddenly bad economy fill peoples’ thoughts. In fact, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) recently released a report showing that 76 percent of small businesses are being negatively impacted by the corona virus. This is three times the number that responded just 10 days earlier.
So what do you do?
While the order in many places is to shelter in place or stay at home, that doesn’t mean you stick your head in the sand. This is the time to stand out to your customers, whether they need products or services from you or not. Here’s how:
Reach out - NOW
Silence is not golden in this case, and while there are often confusing and contradictory messages flying around, this is the time they need to hear from you directly. Utilize your active listening skills to truly help them with whatever they need. It’s very possible that you can continue to serve them in a different way with equally rewarding results.
Ask questions that show you are putting them first. For example, find out how their needs are changing, what new things they may need, and what concerns they have about meeting those needs. Take this information to either offer them new solutions, or use it to research how you can meet their needs. This could push you out of your comfort zone, but into a new and expanded role that actually lays the groundwork for even better sales as the health of the country and businesses improves.
I’ve explained in my book, “Are You For Real?!” about how I would call on clients regularly, even during the hottest parts of summer when they weren’t interested in buying. They didn’t need me, but I wanted them to know I was there for them — I wasn’t just there for the almighty dollar. When the time came for them to purchase, I was usually the first on their list to call.
It’s no different right now. People remember who was there to help them out when things were down. Reach out now, show authentic interest in what your customers need, and offer assistance. That can reap rewards far beyond today.
Seek Opportunities to Grow Your Knowledge
Whether or not you are in sales, your understanding of your industry and the products and services it encompasses is equivalent to your success. Perhaps your excuse has been that you haven’t had time. Obviously you have more time now, so make it a habit everyday to spend an hour or two learning:
• What new products are out there that can serve you or your customers?
• What problems are threatening your industry?
• Are there partners who can help you serve a common interest?
• What resources are there for you to educate yourself, either academically (MBA courses online) or within your industry (webinars and other trainings)
Your boss and your customers will see your efforts to improve your own value to them, which in turn shows your desire to serve better and more effectively.
Seek Opportunities to Grow Your SELF
Personal development, personal development and personal development...the three most important things everyone should work on, continuously. Who you were five years ago is not who you are now. What does that mean? How can you use your new strengths to reframe your future goals? What challenges do you have that put obstacles in your way?
Again, you no longer have the excuse that you don’t have time. This is the perfect opportunity to look inside yourself to evaluate those areas you want to improve upon, as well as those areas that you should capitalize on. Be deliberate, be intentional, and write these things down. Luckily, technology also allows for resources to come to you directly, without having to leave your home.
Whether it is helpful books that guide you through the process, or online trainings, or face to face meetings with a coach over Skype or FaceTime or Google Meet, this is the perfect time to develop into your best self. Now that “normal” is out the window, this is the time to create a new normal that is far better than where you were when you first were told to stay at home.
Along with the roller coaster analogy, I think of a caterpiller in this situation as well. Most of them aren’t too much to look at, kind of ugly perhaps. Then they wrap themselves up and are hidden for a while. From the outside, it doesn’t look like much is happening because it’s out of sight. However, when the time comes to emerge, the result is quite spectacular.
So, while you may feel anxiety over being in a cocoon, out of sight from the world as you’ve come to know it, this is your opportunity to emerge far better than anyone could have expected. I wish you good health and safety through all of it, and invite you to reach out to get there.