No one needs to tell us how difficult this is!
- We are all frustrated, frightened and fractured.
- We are all very concerned about our businesses and our employees.
- We are all looking for answers realizing that there are very few.
So, we have a few choices, and I'm recommending this morning, that we really have only two:
1. Everyday, we gotta be positive !
Positive in our demeanor, our speech, and in our planning for the future of our businesses!The alternative is to listen to the blamers! These are the negators, the time-wasters and the whiners who look back at various politicians and blame them for the lack of stockpiling N95 masks and the myriad of all other shortages that we are currently experiencing.
My response to these people is simply "Who cares?" It's just not important right now! We will have an opportunity in November to officially register how we think politically. In the meantime, it's time to be positive, Stand Up, move forward and embrace innovating change in our businesses!
Whoever is to blame, the fact exists that there are major shortages of supplies and equipment everywhere. The very good news that we are now starting to experience is that American ingenuity, our special DNA sauce of technical innovation plus our innate abilities for good old-fashioned American entrepreneurship are causing tens of thousands of people to Stand Up and race forward to actively do something about this crisis.
We can saturate ourselves in the vindictive politics from both sides of the political aisle and accomplish absolutely nothing other than wasting time and dragging down everyone around us with more negativity, Let me suggest that everyone is sufficiently both frightened and frustrated enough already without added worthless finger-pointing comments from talking heads on CNN and Fox or viewing more negative Facebook posts.
As business people, we now need to move ahead and figure out not only how we survive and then stabilize, but once we achieve some level of stability, we need to identify the new business and sales and marketing models that we will need to put in place in order to grow again. This is not an insignificant task when 75% of our salespeople and business leaders have for decades been making F2F calls and attending trade shows and industry conferences in the market communities in which they work.
Plan for just the next two weeks
Our own management and sales focus now needs to be 100% channeled to what we can do both personally and corporately to impact sales today and over the next two weeks. For those of us in Sales, our planning horizon should be just two weeks! Looking at April, take a look maybe from the 2nd or the 3rd to the 18th, but no longer. This is not strategic planning! This is not quarterly sales planning! This is battle planning!
- Figure it out and re-forecast April by tomorrow. Two weeks from now, re-forecast May.
- Tighten up your messaging and value propositions like never before.
- Drive that exact messaging to everyone who touches a customer.
- Fully commit to an adjusted sales process-absolutely no coloring outside the lines.
- We need to measure what works and what doesn't and then adjust again.
- Connect with every single customer and prospect. Don't sell, just listen.
- Focus on you later-stage deals
- Become totally fluent in whatever online tech tools you use.
2. Stand up and do something!
Each of us is trying to figure out just what to do. Personally, I am overwhelmed with pride at the energy and innovation at Tufts in our students, alums and especially in our leadership who aren't waiting for anyone to tell them what to do. They're Standing Up & charging ahead.
- With a one week call to action through crowd sourcing, an exceptionally hardworking and innovative team-including some of my own-of Tufts engineering students were on the job to restore N95 masks at Tufts Medical Center,
- Another recent grad is ramping up certified hand sanitizer production in Thailand.
- One of my own alums has already converted his apparel business to manufacture masks in his Chinese factory and will be shipping 1 million masks to California in two weeks.
- Tufts is on the forefront in using its facilities, its dorms and its hospital to set up military-level treatment facilities. Click here for an outstanding interview this week with President Monaco on what Tufts is doing plus Tony's own thoughts on what he describes as us being at "a Dunkirk moment" in the battle against Covid-19.
Over the last couple of days since our post Saturday morning, I've heard a hundred other very positive and forward-motion "Stand Up" ideas from this LinkedIn Team ranging from the invention of new products to how companies are experimenting with innovative go-to-market models. Many, many Ideas from a large number of managers and salespeople who are now actually using this virtual environment as a new opportunity to reach out and respond to both customers and prospects with an enhanced ability to demonstrate both faster responses and much more robust communication.
Just as most universities, including Tufts, have gone through a total revolution in online learning in just three weeks, so too has the world of Sales.
- Face to face selling and demos are over! Online interactions are now the new normal.
- Plus, we are still at the infancy of what virtual selling will become 6 & 12 months from now.
- Trade shows, which have been slowly eroding for years anyhow, will never come back.
- Market data, demos, and customer knowledge are now owned by Marketing, not Sales
During the last week, I've personally much more tightly integrated my three favorite companies-Zoom, Brainshark and Hubspot to enable much tighter communication than ever before, and I'm currently in the process this weekend of tying video tools into each of these platforms such that they can be seamlessly used everywhere. Just in the last seven days...
- I facilitated an 8-hour board meeting where I'm chairman using Zoom. Best board meeting ever!
- Yesterday, my first 3-hour class: 30 students from the US, Thailand, China & Rwanda, & Australia
- Attended my first online networking happy hour on Tuesday...another Friday at 5:00PM.
This epidemic/pandemic/crisis is going to last for a long time. It's time to Stand Up and get moving again!
If at any time, you have a need for a confidential sounding board, just connect at any time.
Text or email me, and I will quickly set up a call.
Obviously, no cost-just an opportunity to listen intently and make a few recommendations based on decades of experience.
Have a safe and positive week ahead!
Professor, Tufts Entrepreneurship Center
-Entrepreneurial Marketing & The Science of Sales