I heard from many of our blog subscribers about last week's NYT article on my tiny Vermont town of Winhall. [The Virus Sent Droves to a Small Town. Suddenly, It’s Not So Small. ]
- A very human and objectively correct article
- Filled with real facts about the boom in real estate
- Yes, Scott, a very good friend, is "One Cranky Dude"
- Yes, lots of change...all very healthy change for VT.
Scott Bushee, a solid 6th generation Vermonter, is the supervisor of Winhall’s transfer station (do not use the phrase "town dump" around Scott), spent the summer training all of the newcomers in recycling. “The minute you come through that gate, you’re in Scott’s country,” he said. “I’m the dictator here.” Scott is also the Town Moderator. and he runs the annual town meetings with the same level of practical, no-nonsense, direct-talk that he does everywhere...including his FB posts. We could have used him the other night as the moderator of the most embarrassing management debacle ever.
Scott's a 6th generation Vermonter, just like me, and I could hear his Vermont accent when I read in The Times...“Now you’ve got to deal with Vermonters,” he said. “They will tell you straight up. I try to do it as politely as I can, but if you push the envelope, things are going to go sideways because right now the closest word I can tell you is it's sheer pandemonium.”
I'm in Winhall this morning, where it's a balmy 50 out by the barn, and what I've seen during the summa' because of the emigration out of NY and CT is that...
- there are zero houses for sale other than the worst teardowns and even those have bids
- Mike, my broker for my "extra five acres" of land up on the ridge is getting lots of calls
- the post office ran out of available P.O. boxes in mid-June.
- electricians and plumbers are booked until Christmas.
- a simple pane of glass for the window broken by my lawn guys took 8 weeks to replace
- complaints about bears have quadrupled.
All of which represents change, and from my perspective, very healthy change in a town and in a state that has been eroding for years. Yes, Vermont is very picturesque, and yes, that smell of fresh cut hay in early July and the perfect photo of fall leaves taken out by the dairy farm is all very wonderful, but the harsh reality of the real Vermont is that it's a tough place to live, and an even tougher place to find good jobs.
- Drive 10 miles out of the ski towns, and you're in rural America with a declining population
- Other than retail, and those jobs are now disappearing, real, good-wage jobs are non-existent
- Drug addiction has been declared an epidemic by two governors with no sign of abatement
- Energy costs are the highest in the US save for Hawaii
- Don't get me started on senators Leahy & Sanders, neither of whom do much for VT.
Bottom line of any small town and of any small business, new people bring new ideas and vitality. New ideas create new businesses and new jobs. New jobs bring money and the flywheel keeps turning.
With new families moving into the town doubling the size of the local school population (which had been declining for a decade plus) and bringing new ideas, new energy and new dollars into a fragile economy, this change in Winhall is very positive creating a new sense of vitality and experimentation that comes only from new young families.
“It’s hard to know who is living in what house,” said Ms. Elanor Grant, 50, who is also Winhall’s treasurer, registrar of deeds, tax collector and presiding officer of elections.
She is also the ex-wife of Mr. Bushee. It is an amicable divorce; recently, when a wasp became lodged in his ear canal, she rushed over to his house with tweezers.
...only in Vermont!
Embrace the Opportunity
Absolutely, the chaos created as a result of Covid has been and continues to be a disaster. We know what to do to protect ourselves, our families and our employees, and we're also fact-based enough to know that this problem will continue deep into 2021. The harsh reality of the virus was brought to the forefront in the early hours of this morning with the announcement of the president and first lady testing positive.
We're facing a long winter ahead, and from the perspective of our own businesses, we now need to focus on what we can control and bring our positive energy, our expertise and our innovation to the forefront of what we are doing every day for the balance of this new quarter.
Winhall is never "going back" and neither will the professions of Sales & Marketing
- Many of the age-old tactics of Sales & Marketing have been out of touch with customers and prospects for years. In B2B tech sales we've known for years that 70ish% of prospective buyers have reported that their first meeting (both phone calls and F2F meeting) with a salesperson was a waste of time, and that they would never take another call or meeting. And yet salespeople have continued to relentlessly batter down the doors with more and more blind emails and cold calls that make a used-car salesperson look good by comparison.
- Sales & Marketing success today is all about demonstrating customer value. Unless our sales and marketing messaging and outreach tools can demonstrate fundamental financial value to both prospects and customers, we're just an unnecessary interruption in an environment where no one anymore has any extra time or desire to listen to yet another empty statement which is focused on the seller's table and not the buyer's.
- Live trade shows are gone forever. We've been trying to kill this antiquated time-sink of energy and money for decades, and the stats have told us for all of those decades that the cost per lead was 10X the cost of any other form of marketing, but we've continued to play the trade show game. Maybe it was because we were afraid what our competitors would say when we didn't show up, or that we often used that same time for training our salespeople since they all felt that they needed to be in the booth. Very simply, no one is going back to live trade shows ever! Virtual trade shows and conferences, sure, but physical meetings? Who would take that life and death risk? Remember that the infections from the Biogen conference in Massachusetts in February started from just one person and has now been traced to over 20,000 direct infections.
Like Scott Bushee and Eleanor Grant and the 769 residents of Winhall, embrace the change, figure out the new opportunities that this time provides and experiment with new marketing and sales tactics during the next 60 days as you now turn your attention to closing Q4 and the year ahead of plan...still plenty of time to do that!
I'm headed out to the general store for a breakfast sandwich before my 9:00 AM sales meeting this morning !
Have a great day selling today as we push forward into embracing the changes of this fall and Q4
CONFIDENTIAL SOUNDING BOARD
If at any time, you have a need for a confidential sounding board in business planning or for Sales or Marketing, just connect with me at any time. Text or email me, and I will quickly set up a call.
I'm a pretty good listener. Obviously, no cost for a call or two; just an opportunity to listen intently and make a few recommendations based on decades of experience.