When Crisis Hits: Keep MovingArticle by Colleen Francis, March 31, 2020
Today’s global pandemic is an extraordinary public health crisis. As we get past the immediate challenge of doing what’s necessary and wise to stay well and safe, the next big question is: “What must I do to keep going professionally?”
Answer that by looking at the best practices of top sales leaders. The wisdom there is timeless. It applies to every tough situation—including this one.
That wisdom can be summed up in two words: keep moving.
There are ways to do that right now while also remaining healthy and safe.
For example, in my Miami neighborhood today, I’m seeing a hotel manager make use of this unexpected down time—now that all his rooms are empty. He is keeping staff employed and refocused by having them work on building maintenance and upgrades (all while practicing safe distancing and wearing appropriate gear).
Then there’s the grocer who is adding staff to meet skyrocketing demand for curb-side pickup orders. Or the restauranteur who has retooled as a delivery-only meal service and grocery operation. Or the salon owner whose shop is closed but is spending this time building an online booking system to give clients the ability to prepay for the haircuts they’re all going to need later when things are safer.
Yes, these are uncertain times. That’s a problem in two parts. While you don’t have much control over fixing uncertainty of this magnitude, you are always in command of your time. It’s always up to you how you spend it.
Here’s how you do that wisely while you keep moving.
Beware of excuses. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that there’s no point in reaching out to clients right now because nobody is buying. Selling is about serving. It always has been! Find ways that you can be of service to your customers during this difficult time. Also, look at ways that you can refocus your efforts within your sales operation and retool. This is the time to do it.
Take time to be worried. That’s different from choosing to remain in a worried state. It’s far too easy to remain scared or angry because your pipeline has run dry. That’s a recipe for paralysis. Instead, take time to look at the dimension of the problem in your business and worry about it. But do it in a constructive way where you are looking for solutions, rather than as justification for doing nothing.
Don’t buy into the belief of helplessness. If left unchecked, excuses and remaining in a constant state of worry create a kind of addiction. As Jeb Blount once said: excuses are addicting. Don’t let that activate the belief that there’s nothing you can do anymore, when in fact there’s plenty that must be done now.
So, yes, keep moving. You will pull through this by focusing on the three things that are always in your control—even now: your actions, your reaction to others and your mindset.
Let’s also be clear, sellers: we all will be facing uncertainty for some time. You will need to increase your activity by two, three, or maybe even six times than before to keep your pipeline full. You’ll be fighting hard to keep your clients. You’ll find creative—even unorthodox solutions—to keep your business running.
The top performers get this. They are now focused on organizing their day, freeing themselves from unhelpful distractions and making use of this strange time to get necessary work done.
I’m reminded of what one top seller once told me during the depths of the 2008 financial crisis: “If my market slows down and I slow down with it, I’ll soon be out of business.”
He survived. You can too. If you keep moving.