The message from our leadership to the business development team was clear – double your outbound efforts and talk to as many clients as possible.
Notice, I said “talk” – not “sell.”
We weren’t increasing activity for financial gain or in an effort to sell anything to our clients. We were to listen to the overall mood in the market and understand what our clients are doing to keep their business on track and serve their employees /clients to the best of their ability. Then, see if we could help.
I connected with many business leaders over the last few weeks, and it became clear to me that the people and companies I spoke with fell into one of two distinct categories during this crisis:
Offense vs. Defense
It was binary. I would either get off the call and be completely motivated and energized by the focus and energy of a leader taking an offensive approach or I would feel deflated by the fear and pessimism in the voice of a defensive leader.
The companies that take an offensive approach to beat a crisis and prepare for the bounce back all had the following characteristics:
#1: Remain optimistic
It’s easy to hear the confidence in someone’s voice, just as it is easy to hear pessimism. Your employees, clients, family, and friends feed off a leader’s optimism/cynicism. Offensive companies talk about the new opportunities that are available and share their positive outlook on the future. A couple of the most notable phrases:
“We’ve wanted to move our employees completely remote for a few months now – this will give us a great opportunity to pilot it.”
“We will come out of this crisis much stronger as a company than we were going in.”
Both phrases are great examples of Cornerstone #1- Attitude - having a positive attitude represents leaders from strong companies.
#2: Increase Communication with employees and clients
People crave human interaction in times of crisis. Whether it was the Dotcom Bubble, 9/11, the Great Recession, or any other disaster – people have coped by congregating and using in-person human interaction. However, COVID-19 is the exact opposite. We are asked to isolate from each other. That creates the opportunity to connect through phone calls and virtual meetings.
Companies on the offensive realize that not only is this the first time their entire workforce is working completely remote (for most companies), but this could potentially be the first crisis that many of their younger workforce have experienced.
Companies on the offensive make quick adjustments. Many increasing communications by 3x or more with daily team meetings, more frequent 1v1’s, and virtual happy hours or coffee breaks to continue to drive engagement and continuity. Good leaders never underestimate the power of a call to simply ask, “How are you doing?” to ensure their most valuable assets are coping and remaining optimistic during uncertain times.
They also increase communication with their clients. Offensive companies understand that regardless of how profound the recession is going to be, their clients need them more than ever to help keep operations running or possibly even turn their business around. If what you are selling can help businesses mitigate the impact of the recession, then it is your obligation to continue reaching out to your clients to understand how you can help.
No one has all the answers. No one knows how long this crisis is going to last. No one knows the financial implications this crisis will have on our economy. Most importantly – no one knows exactly how to navigate this crisis and respond in a way that will set their company up perfectly for the bounce back.
But offensive companies are collaborative. They share their strategy to maintain business continuity, want to know what we were seeing in the market, and the ways in which other companies are coping with the crisis.
#4: Continue to invest in their people
Business has radically shifted within the last 2-3 weeks. Reps are running virtual sales calls and leaders managing 100% remote teams. Offensive companies understand that additional equipment and tools may need to be provided to be successful in this business environment and ensure their team continues to learn and engage.
Offensive companies understand that max effort and skill during this crisis will best prepare them for the bounce back. They are capitalizing on the excess flexibility their team has right now to put them in virtual trainings to sharpen their skill set and propel them ahead of their competition.
At Butler Street, we understand this is a time of great uncertainty and are here to help. If you want to have a conversation about what you can be doing today to best prepare your company for the bounce back, let’s schedule some time to talk.