With an obstacle as large as a pandemic that brings with it tremendous health and financial challenges, we have a couple options. We can get caught up in the panic and hysteria, or we can be responsible while looking for potential opportunities. Those opportunities may be in spending more time with family, providing community support, learning new methods for expanding your business through virtual meetings, etc. The most important thing is our mindset and the questions we are asking.
I want to be careful here not to sound insensitive. I am not talking about the opportunity to hoard toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and face masks to sell for large profits and exploit people’s fear. I am talking about coming from a place of compassion and creativity. I am talking about looking for ways to add value to our clients, prospects, communities, and families.
Our questions formulate our thoughts by triggering our brain to search for answers. Simply ask yourself, “what is the opportunity here?”, and your brain has to shift gears from fear and anxiety to problem solving and creativity. In asking myself this question I quickly thought of 7 ideas to increase sales and grow my business while forging stronger relationships with clients, prospects, and employees.
1.) Work ON your business instead of IN your business.
For many salespeople, solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, small business owners we get so wrapped up in the day to do of running our business, working IN our business that we rarely designate time to plan and strategize on our longer term plans. If you are limited in your ability to meet with clients, if deals are put on hold, if you save time traveling or commuting right now – it presents an excellent opportunity to set aside an hour or two per day to step back and look at where your business is right now, where you would like it to be, and create a clear path forward to communicate to everyone around you. Clarity, alone, will increase productivity.
If you are looking for a guided reference on developing this level of clarity in your business, Hal Elrod and I developed a workbook designed to help you with this task which you can find on Amazon if you are interested, but please read the rest of this article first! It’s a 120 page workbook to guide you through the process.
The Miracle Morning for Salespeople: Companion Guide
2,) Reconnect with current and past clients.
As salespeople and business owners, we tend to focus most of our energy on finding new clients. It makes sense. In most businesses, as in many areas, if you are not growing you are dying. Many people miss opportunities with current and past clients though when they are so focused on finding new clients. We miss the opportunity to deepen relationships to create repeat business. We miss referral opportunities. And we miss opportunities to fulfill more of our clients needs with other products and services we may offer. You can start by reaching out and just asking people how they are handling the current situation, how is it impacting them, and if there is anything that you can do to help?
3.) Forge stronger relationships with employees.
Please do not mistake my language for sounding cold, but your human capital is one of your greatest investments. Whether we call them human capital, employees, or team members, we must keep in mind that they are all people, and they are all experiencing this current crisis in their own ways with their own attitudes, fears, energy, and emotion.
This provides a tremendous opportunity for us to strengthen our bonds with our employees by showing them that we care about them and their families. Depending on the extent of this health crisis and any financial fallout people are going to be concerned about their health, safety, job security, and financial standing in the coming weeks and months.
The sooner we address these concerns the better. What can we do to help alleviate these fears? Communicating you plans for keeping them safe through deep cleaning of all workspaces, moving to work-from-home where applicable, ensuring them they will have a paycheck. Many will be dealing with children at home with school cancelled and require child care that they either do not have or cannot afford. All of these things will keep people more productive during a crisis. When people are preoccupied with their basic necessity needs it is hard to add much value anywhere else. Let’s work to alleviate those concerns where possible.
4.) Trim the fat in your budget and reallocate funds.
In my line of work, coaching and training salespeople and entrepreneurs, we spend a lot of time finding answers for how to grow their businesses or increase sales. Sometimes this involves testing new methods of advertising, marketing, and lead generation. On occasion these plans are strategically determined, but in most cases, when left to their own devices, I find people looking for the next shiny object. It only costs $X a month. If it even generates one more sale it will be worth it.
The main issue here is that many salespeople, entrepreneurs, and small business owners do not do a great job keeping track of these expenses and they add up over time. There could be several reasons for this. We don’t have time. We aren’t naturally good at it. It’s easier to focus on earning more than saving more. All of these may be true, but if we let them get out of control we can quickly spend a bunch of our profit margins.
When the economy is booming these expenses may seem trivial, but when we need to get lean, it starts with trimming fat.
What could you cut from your budget today without impacting your business negatively?
5.) Build a stronger online and social presence.
With people spending additional time at home and following the news for updates on what is happening with the virus and the economy, social media will be an even more important platform to be in front of your clients. Now is a great time to create your YouTube channel or add a bunch of content to the empty one you may have created months ago. You could create a Pinterest account that creates followers and sends them to your website or already established Business Facebook page.
You could plan a reorganization, a redesign, or add content to your website that will drive additional traffic. Maybe you build out some blog posts as I am doing, or potentially you add some product pages, success stories, or a store that you have been meaning to build online. Maybe now is the time to take a course on Facebook advertising or interview people who could do it for you. If your business does go on hold with clients for a week or two, there are lots of ways to make productive use of the time.
6.) Document systems and processes.
McDonald’s is the commonly used example of how a duplicatable business model can be so successful. No matter where you go the experience is basically the same at any McDonald’s. While your business likely has nothing to do with fast food chains, what we can learn is that expansion and growth comes from being able to duplicate your efforts through leverage. Leverage becomes infinitely easier to implement when your systems and processes are documented for other people to follow.
A perfect example of this happened for me this year. One of my roles is acting as a sales manager for a team of buyer agents within a real estate brokerage. I spend a few hours a week training them and a few hours a week ensuring that we generate leads for them. One of the processes involved advertising coming soon properties with a series of steps to posting the ads to drive traffic. The whole process took about one to two hours per property and often disrupted other things that were higher dollar earning activities that I should have been focused on. By documenting each step of posting the properties in the different locations and creating the ads I now have an admin on my team who handles all of those steps and simply send me the link of the post to boost in Facebook. It now takes me 30-45 seconds to complete what used to take me almost two hours and likely takes my admin less than an hour because it is her focus.
One of my coaches is Eric Crews, who coaches on the Entrepreneurial Operating System, found in Gino Wickman’s book Traction: Get A Grip on Your Business. One of the key steps is documenting the key processes that drive your business. I have personally found that this system creates clarity, makes for a better and more consistent customer experience, and makes leverage and training remarkably easier.
7.) Build your pipeline through compassion and care.
Sales comes down to relationships. Those relationships are based on trust. People want to buy from people that they know, like, and trust. Every conversation that you have to grow a relationship during this current crisis needs to start with compassion. People will be impacted in different ways by their experience during this pandemic. Your ability to exhibit compassion and come from a place of curiosity about how to help people will be the key to relationship building right now. This is always the best strategy for building strong, long-lasting relationships, but this may be one of the only workable solutions right now.
Especially in times of fear, concern, stress, and unknown many decisions may be put on hold right now. However, I believe the people that spend the next few weeks and months building relationships through curiosity and compassion will generate trust that allows them the opportunity to consult for clients in the future in a way that helps move the right prospects towards a buying decision that adds value for them or their company.
Any steps forward are a step forward…
There will be people who freeze in fear during this time. There will be people who will quit sales and search for a job. There will be people who will close businesses. There will also be people who take some of these steps, seize the opportunities before them, gain new future clients, cement relationships with current clients through compassion, and move their business to a new heightened level on the other side of this obstacle. This too shall pass. You decide how to spend the time.
I wish all of you the best in the coming weeks and months. I feel for all of you that may be struggling right now. I celebrate all of you that are finding the opportunity. And I hope that we can all band together and treat each other with respect and dignity by being kind to mankind!
I would love to hear any additional suggestions or strategies you are implementing in the comments below.
Remember to check out the 120 page workbook if you are interested in guidance to help you develop a clear plan to grow your business.