David Armes and David Das are hired by businesses both big and small, from Dyson and The Body Shop to small financial firms and start-up agencies, training their teams to build a culture of on-going sales.
Business Matters turned to them for their advice primed right now for SME’s in a series of articles to lead you through the stages of recovery.
Business Matters asks: The biggest question we see people grappling with at the moment is ‘When is the right time to start selling again?’. What would your thoughts on that be?
For us, it’s when you’ve done your homework, found out what’s changed and discovered what value now looks like to your customers.
We’re currently advising clients to follow a four-step plan that helps you take back control in this time of crisis disruption. That’s right, we’re not calling it a crisis because that kind of extreme language can render you incapabale of doing anything. And right now there is a lot that you can be doing to support your clients and your business.
As business people you’ve all handled disruption before, be it a lost client, employees leaving, recession, broken supply chains, the list is endless. This is what you’re facing now. Ask yourself what you did to manage it then. You probably went into proactive mode and dealt with it. This time yes, it’s bigger, faster and harder than anything before but it’s still disruption, and that’s something you’re more than capable of handling.
So by now you’ve probably already nailed the ‘react’ stage and you’re ready to RETHINK your way into the next stage.
- REACT – what you’ve had to do so far to survive
- RETHINK – how you’re going to adapt your offer to get moving again in the new reality
- REACH OUT – who you’re going to talk to about your new offer and how
- RECOVER – start to see results
And just as everyone’s reality has changed so rapidly, so we’re going to keep progressing at pace through these four steps in these few articles.
In this article therefore, we’re going to focus on moving from React to Rethink. And the first mini-step to take here is using the yardstick:
- How valuable is your service to your customers now and potentially in the future?
- What role do your clients want you to play in the future?
The answer to these questions is crucial to informing what you need to do to re-position or re-shape your offer, as it builds on your understanding of how your customers needs have changed or are likely to change.
Simply put, we need to rethink how we continue to add value to our clients
What we’ve found, time and again over the last few weeks, is that what is relevant to our clients right now, and therefore of immense value, is whether or not we can help in two areas:
- I’ve still got a bucketload of things to do, can you help?
- Can you help me work out what I need to do next?
Obviously, the specifics in each of those two questions will entirely depend on your market. But the fact of the matter is, they still need to get things done. What was previously important to individuals ranged from things such as getting promoted, gaining recognition, having more time with their families [no shortage of that at the moment] and driving their reputation. But now, a lot more individuals have job security at the front and centre of their thinking.
And this is where finding out new and existing needs begins to get tricky.
It is a human truth that whenever somebody feels more pressure, they inevitably think more about themselves than others.
Crucially though, just at the time when you might be thinking about all the disruption that’s happened and what it means for you, is the exact same time when you need to listen to your customer base in order to understand what it means for them and whether you can help.
Now, more than ever, your listening skills and emotional intelligence needs to be dialled right up. You need to be hyper aware of what is going on on the other side of the screen. Remember, they may have experienced loved ones getting ill and worse too, they may have had a really tough time in laying off staff – all the things that mean that they too are just trying to get through this. You need to focus on them in the conversations if you want them to open up more and share what’s important for them right now.
We know this is tough at the best of times. We recommend two things that will get you in the right frame of mind for your next customer conversation:
- Be vulnerable, open, transparent. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge the impact this disruption has had on you and your business. Trying to play it down and pretending you’re not scarred by the situation will only be viewed with a lack of credibility in their eyes.
- Shift your perspective – when you’re in conversation with your customer, see what they’re saying from their perspective. Easier said than done, as we naturally listen to what they’re saying and process whether there’s an opportunity for us in there. Instead of that though, try to put yourself in their shoes and empathise with what they’re describing to you. Genuinely listening to them like this will help them feel more comfortable in sharing things with you.
If you can have these types of conversations that enable them to open up to you, you will gain a far deeper insight into what value looks like for them now. Then you will be able to answer the following questions:
- What positive impact [i.e. value] am I having on them and their business now?
- What else can I do to max out the value I deliver in this period and ongoing?
And a challenge question to really stretch your thinking:
- When your clients are out of this situation and have the time to reflect, will they see you as someone who stepped up and could be relied on?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll then be able to rethink your offer and shape it to be of maximum relevance and value. Then, and only then, can you put together a proposal tailored for them and start selling again.
In the next article released on Friday we’re going to focus on the last part of the Rethink stage – how you go about re-shaping your offer. We’ll give you eight steps that, if followed, will greatly enhance your chances of bringing it to market successfully.