Recovering from Covid-19: Change is where the magic happens.

I attended a live-streamed fitness class over the weekend and our instructor reminded us that it’s been 64 days since our gym closed due to COVID-19.  I know that it’s been that long, and I know that time has continued to come and go as it always has but oddly, I feel like this time has really flown by.  Judging by my wild hair, it really has been that long!

Thinking back to the first week that I realized the spread of Corona virus was literally changing the world as we knew it, I confess that I felt a degree of uncertainty and anxiety that I hadn’t know before.  This was new and uncharted territory. It’s interesting that sometimes you can’t realize how or what you are feeling, or what to do until you move past the initial phase, gaining some level of perspective and acceptance, and finding your new routine to get on with living.

This is what we were forced to do.  In a very short time millions of people experienced significant changes in their lives.  It is clear that we will be realizing the effects of this pandemic on all of our lives for many years to come, and for the next many months at least, as we re-emerge from the cocoon life style we have been living, we will have to confront certain fears, accept certain change and embrace new ways of living life – some of which we will come to realize are quite positive.

Coping with Change.

As you have likely witnessed within your family, friends and people you work with, different personalities handle change more easily than others.  Today we all are facing changes there was no recipe for.  We are learning quickly to manage and live with those changes, while trying not to get too caught up in the “what ifs”.  

As business owners, sales leaders and salespeople we need to figure out how we will act, sell and conduct our business lives differently.  Not only how we will confront and cope with new challenges, but also how we will help others in the same regard.

For many, and quite understandably there is fear.  Fear of catching an unseen enemy.  Fear of potentially and unknowingly spreading that same enemy.  Over time, this too will change.  For now, many are thinking about how we confront fear and use reason to guide our behaviors.  

We didn’t run.

Security integrators did not run from COVID-19.  They kept going.  They quickly adapted by changing their work environments to help keep employees safe, to keep businesses going and people employed, and to answer the call as needed for service to their customers and communities.  We realized early on that security integrators employ essential workers and are essential businesses in the fabric of the economy.  Today as we “re-open” and re-emerge at various rates and in a variety of ways, security integrators will use necessary precautions and reasonable judgement not only with respect to internal interactions among employees and visitors but, also with their customers and the job sites they work on.  

As employees come back into the office workplace, it’s easy to realize that there will be some level of concern.  The very simplest aspects of office socialization – grabbing a cup of coffee in the breakroom, meeting at a co-worker’s desk, sharing a conference room, or even using a shared restroom are all taking on new meaning in terms of keeping clean and confronting shared concerns and responsibilities.  We think of ourselves and our families, but more than ever before, we think of the people we co-exist with in these different environments.  Our attitudes and actions for maintaining cleanliness at work have changed.  There is probably an abundance of good that we will realize as a result of this too.

We are also seeing that security industry manufacturers are stepping up to the plate finding new markets, new opportunities to adapt use of existing products, developing and enhancing features and introducing products that will further assist in identifying people at risk, validate and help all of us to gain confidence in returning to a life of relative freedom.

Technology providers are also taking on the challenge of achieving greater accuracy, lowering response or validation time, and bringing more affordable products to life in response to this pandemic, as well as the needs and demands of the population.  We all hope we will soon see a vaccine and have data that leads to other innovative medicines and solutions.  Isn’t it amazing to realize that the world is working collectively to find answers?

We are even seeing cross-industry and cross-product partnerships.  Ways that disparate manufacturers are working together to provide integrated solutions.

These are examples of how the security industry and others are thinking differently, changing perspective, looking for ways to quickly innovate, and also looking longer term to provide more permanent and insightful solutions.

As we re-emerge and live in this changing world recognizing how companies, scientists and individuals throughout the world are looking for ways to lower risk and fear, further bolsters our ability to cope with, accept and adapt to change.

Sales Re-emergence. We got this!  

As sales teams reemerge into a new selling environment, we too need to adapt and adjust to changes impacting us from many directions.  When meeting new prospects or customers, it is highly unlikely we will be shaking hands or even exchanging business cards.  Wow – that is a paradigm shift to get our heads around!

Here are 3 “meet and greet” tips for the re-emergence to help get back out there, put prospects and customers at ease, and take action leading to more trusting, respectful and deeper relationships in this time of change.

1. Introduce yourself online first.  

  • By now, even the most technology challenged are using Zoom, GoToMeeting, MS Teams (you name it!).  These tools make introductory meetings so easy today.  Everyone is using one of these applications to communicate.  Take it to the next level.  No hiding!  Dress the part, turn on your camera to introduce yourself and send a virtual business card in the meeting.  Go ahead “shake hands” with your prospects and customers online.  It’s fun, different and will help put everyone at ease.
  • Record a quick personalized video – less than 3 minutes – whereby you introduce yourself, share a little bit of your work and personal background, and quickly introduce a few ways you and your team are back to work and practicing safety standards.  This is also a great way to show off your company branded mask.  You may even suggest that one of these little babies can be yours too!
  • Pick up the phone.  Phone calls are so relevant!  Use FaceTime, WhatsApp or, just talk.  Talking with prospects and customers about what is most comfortable for them helps everyone ease back in.  Talk about how to meet, how to walk a jobsite, any requirements the customer may have in place for the safety of themselves and their employees, and the best ways for you and your company to meet and be respectful of these practices.  

2.  Prep your wheels and bags!

This is an easy one and one that will help you, your family, your co-workers and prospects and customers feel better.  Here’s the checklist to have in your car and your briefcase:

  • Clorox wipes – or any other that really kill germs.  Wipe down door handles, knobs, gear shifts, the steering wheel, etc. on the way in and on the way out.  Keep a package in your bag too, or at least 10 in a Ziplock.
  • Box of gloves – keep a box of disposable gloves on the passenger seat and another in the trunk.  You may or may not need them for every visit but, you’ve got them in case you do.  You are also prepared to provide a pair to someone else.  Throw 3 pairs in a Ziplock and toss it in your bag too. Guess what?  With gloves on, you may even be able to shake hands!
  • Masks – keep 5-10 masks in the passenger seat and stash a few more in the trunk.  Stick 3 in your briefcase too (in a Ziplock of course!).  If you have company branded masks, awesome, you’ll be doing some great marketing too.
  • Face Coverings – keep a package of coffee filters and a couple scarves, homemade masks, or face coverings in your car.  Fold a filter and locate it in the face covering to cover your nose and mouth with your scarf or mask on, dispose of the filter when done.

3. Establish onsite visit protocols ahead of time.

Most people don’t like surprises – unless they are being taken away to the vacation of a lifetime or a very large, sparkly diamond is attached!  Day-to-day, we rather like and appreciate routine.  We are beginning to establish new routines and “rules of the road”.  Some of your prospects and customers will be well prepared for allowing you on site, others may be working things out, and most will have some fluidity in this process as things continue to iron out for all of us.  What can you do?

  • Be prepared to talk about what your company is doing.  If you have a company branded checklist ready and easy to share via email or on your website, Facebook or other company social media – great!  Sharing proactively helps, as your prospects and customers want to know that you’ve thought this through.  They also may be looking for tips they can use, and to reinforce that what they are doing is on target.  I think we’ve all learned that relying on the advice of others during this time has been very helpful.
  • Prior to being on site, ask your prospects and customers what they suggest you do or have with you in order to prepare yourself and other team members for a good visit.  This is a great way to open the conversation to learn more about the goals and objectives the prospect or customer has in mind.
  • Different locations call for different approaches.  If working in a densely populated location, or locations with vulnerable populations, or indoors versus outdoors, renovation versus new construction, laboratory environment and many others, protocols will be different.  Be prepared ahead of time.  Find out what is required and what is recommended.
  • Check OSHA, local government requirements and do you best to educate yourself on how to cover the bases as required.
  • Finally, note all of these findings in the lead, opportunity or customer account record of your CRM to remind yourself and other team members of customer expectations and practices in place.  This attention to detail is appreciated.

4. Realign selling time and best practices.

Re-emerging for salespeople is exciting.  We were just commenting in our office that having an actual sales call is invigorating.  For the past 9 or so weeks, we salespeople have been readjusting and perhaps focusing on existing customer relationships, brushing up on various areas of selling, maybe even attending one of the many free WeSuite software webinars to brush up on sales workflow skills!  

One of the things I learned quickly and early on during this time of cocooning, was that I needed to re-establish a routine for myself.  I needed to refocus and realign my personal and business goals.  Doing so provided me purpose and control of what I could control.  In doing so, I saw an immediate improvement in my attitude and energy.  

Here is what we suggest for realigning your sales focus using WeOpportunity and WeEstimate:

  • Block direct daily selling time.  Getting selling time on your Outlook calendar automatically includes it on your WeOpportunity calendar and vice-versa. If done within a lead, even the lead ID is on your calendar.  Leads and opportunities have more detail provided by a simple task and having an appointment on your calendar increases your chances of completing it by 85%!  Wow.  That is some payoff.
  • Block sales strategy time. Get time on your calendar to reivew opportunity status’, the last time you talked with each customer, which prospects showed the most promise and other important sales milestones. Tackle opportunities you’ve entered in the last 6-9 months and you’ll have plenty to get going on. The point here is to strategize your pipeline.
    • Prioritize. Break opportunities into areas of your pipeline so that you can easily sort the most promising to the least, prioritizing the list.
    • Set next steps. Review opportunity notes to see where you left off and create your game plan, recording next steps and actions.  Get next steps on the calendar and start communicating.
    • Update opportunities!  You have a CRM and solid estimating software that fully support your sales process.  Use your sales management software tools and receive immediate payback.
    • Clean up your pipeline and forecast. It is more important than ever to keep your pipeline and forecast clean and accurate.  Take a few minutes daily to do this.  Knowing the status of all opportunities, how full your pipeline is in each stage, what you have ready to close, or need to move next into the closing position is the easiest way to be organized and benefit fully from using sales management software.
    • Prospect! You will receive great benefit in staying on top of sales prospecting activities, active opportunities and estimates.  You will have focus, direction and a clear roadmap of what to do next because all reporting is real-time and easily sorted and viewed by you! In fact, I predict you will be busier and more on top of your sales world than ever before.
    • Start and track the conversation. Here are a few conversation and communication starters:
      • New product and service solutions you are offering to help businesses get back to work
      • Product and service solutions your company is exploring and would appreciate feedback on.  Wow – prospects and customers being asked what they need and the opportunity to discuss what, why, when and how, is so important and moves you into a different category.
      • What’s changed in your world?  In addition to tackling best practices for face-to-face (6’-0”+ away of course!) meetings, many organizations have reduced workforce’s, closed locations, or changed how they will do business into the future.  Asking what has changed in the world of your prospects and customers and letting those conversations go where needed, is extremely important to you as their security integration sales consultant.
      • Are there ways I can help? Asking for help isn’t always easy.  Asking someone if they would like help, and how you might provide help is easy.  Maybe there is nothing you can do but, being asked is extremely meaningful to most people.
  • Get real. Final word, it’s time to clean up those lose ends you may have ignored.  If an opportunity is not relevant or simply no longer an opportunity, lose it and move on.  Focus on what is real.  Focus on the next 30, 60 and 90 days.  Renew your energy and commitment to a world that is changing for you and your customers.  Stay positive and do this by cleaning the cobwebs out of your sales funnel. 

Change is where the magic happens!

I view the glass as half full or more.  Remember that saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”?  Focus on the lemonade and all of the other things you can make from the “lemons”. Already we are seeing so many magical innovations, new ways to connect, new meaning in our lives.  The concept to embrace here, is that there is so much good that comes from change.  Thinking from a new perspective, being open to new ideas, looking for technology advances, renewing our appreciation for family, friends, customers, associates and yes, for our jobs as salespeople is where it’s at!  

There are so many people embracing the changes around us because change is where the magic happens.  Focus on being part of the solution, providing positive reinforcement for those who need it, applying reasonable judgement and yes, betting on our persevering human spirit and love for innovation.  

A small challenge to all sales professionals: find the change that brings out your magic and make it happen.