The Consumer Price Index (CPI) reached 8.6%, the highest inflation recorded in the last four decades. Energy prices are up by more than 34%, food is up more than 10%, and the average price of an apartment just reached $2,000. The Federal Reserve has raised rates twice, each time increasing it by 0.50, with another increase of 0.75 announced on June 15, 2022.
We live in strange times, a period we might call the AC/DC environment, an acronym for Accelerating, Constant, Disruptive Change. Any environment with these characteristics is certain to be one of greater uncertainty. Uncertainty causes people to pause, hunker down, and avoid making decisions that may make things worse.
Regular readers of this blog will recognize the idea that one should do the right thing, at the right time, in the right way. This strategy is even more important to pursue in an unstable environment. Doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, requires you to execute the fundamentals, with the single addition of increasing your activity.
There are only two outcomes to pursue in sales: opportunity creation and opportunity capture. Your focus and your energy should go toward these two outcomes, and the following tips will help you direct it appropriately:
- Mind Your Mindset: This is your first priority. One of the best ways to mind your mindset is to avoid negativity and ingest more of what is positive. You are not the first person to live in difficult times, and you won't be the last. You are going to experience different seasons, including winter. Be grateful for the 4,108 weeks you have been gifted. Most of all, do the work without worrying about what is out of your control.
- Physical Health: You are going to feel better if you do the work to take care of yourself. Start by making sure you get enough sleep, take care of your nutrition, hydrate, and exercise. You are of little use to others if you don't take care of yourself. If you are stressed, go for a hard run, take a brisk walk outside, or journal your thoughts, getting them out of your body and onto paper.
- Take Care of Your Clients: Some of your clients are going to struggle to produce the results they need, and others will not need to buy as much during some periods than others. You need to increase your communication with your existing clients. You will have competitors who will work to displace you, especially those who have a lower-priced model. Communication and execution creates a firewall that prevents the wolves from finding their way in.
- Cold Outreach Using the Telephone: There is nothing more effective for creating new meetings than making a phone call. To make your phone call as effective as possible, you will need a value proposition the client will find valuable enough that they will trade their time for what you promise. You should resist any tendency to use emails for prospecting; instead, use it to tell your client you will try them again in the next 24 hours.
- Nurture Your Dream Clients: To avoid a lull in activity, build a nurture campaign that will help your clients make sense of their environment and what they should prioritize or consider during this period. By nurturing your dream clients, you become known as someone who is on top of what's going on outside the client's windows, positioning yourself as someone worth knowing.
- Keep Your Existing Deals on Track: It's never a good idea to leave a meeting with a prospective client without acquiring the next meeting. It's especially important to progress from one conversation to the next without any pause or break. Deal control is important in good times and in difficult times. Remind your clients of the better results they needed when they first met with you, and that they are still going to be important to them in the future and that they should press forward.
When It Is Out of Control
When there are things that are totally and completely out of your control, focusing on what you can't control will prevent you from moving forward. You are better off prioritizing the things that are within your control. That is an eternal truth worth observing.
The more you take care of the fundamentals of selling, the better your results. You should always be proactive about creating new opportunities and winning new deals, but it is even more important not to allow this discontinuity to disrupt you from doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right way.
This Too Shall Pass
Between now and what comes next, whether it is a return to something close to normal or another disruption, you still have to do your work, much of which isn't going to stop because of anything in the environment. It may, however, require you to help your client find the confidence to move forward despite any uncertainty.
In a recent comment conversation, a sales and marketing leader wrote that salespeople teaching their clients was really about validating themselves. The statement struck me as harsh, and I replied that it is validating to help a client improve their results or avoid some negative event. In my mind, the commenter would remove the meaning and purpose many of us find in our roles in sales and sales leadership.
While it may be more difficult to help your prospects and clients, your obligation isn't suspended because of the outside environment. The reason I end the newsletter with "do good work" is because it is right for all seasons, in good times, in bad times, and even the strange times we find ourselves living through now.