The Pivot Back to Playing Offense
Around the country, including my home state of Minnesota, we are transitioning out of isolation at home. And as the country opens up, so is my business.
For Lynn and myself, June 1 marked the moment we officially pivoted back to playing offense. Our moment of pause is over, and now that we have a better understanding of the demands of the new economy, we are confident and prepared to engage our marketplace with a new outbound strategy.
But pivoting back to performance focus isn’t as simple as simply flipping a switch. The world has changed dramatically over the past few months, and so have our customers’ needs. As we’ve engaged with our customers during the pandemic, we’ve spent most of our time listening. And as painful as it was to have this moment of pause, I know our business is better for it. We have evolved our business to be in lock-step with our customers’ needs, and we will be better able to deliver value for them than ever before.
These six ideas have been enormously helpful for me as we approach halftime of 2020. I hope they are helpful in setting up your own breakthrough in the second half of this year.
Solidify Your Performance Plan
Over the past few months, we have had the time to better project what our businesses look like going forward. Now it’s time to lock in our target and take dead aim.
So solidify your performance plan. And if you’ve had to adjust your performance plan downward, that’s OK. The majority of businesses have had to do the same. This is the first year in my business’s 10-year existence that we will not be growing our top-line revenue.
But I accept that. And I know that I’m prepared for the new challenges ahead. We’ve taken the time as we’ve spoken with our customers for the last few months to create what we believe are realistic goals for us to target for the rest of the year. Not only does this help us with planning our budget and spending, but it also helps us focus on the task at hand. Now that Lynn and I have a unified vision of the future we’re building towards, we can begin to take the steps to get us there. And while we might not grow top-line revenue in 2020, I believe this will be our biggest year of both personal and professional transformation since we have started the business.
Consider Your Customer
No matter what condition the economy is in, the most effective customer outreach has always been predicated on two factors: personalization and customization. But as we navigate the pandemic, both of these factors are even more essential in creating a connection to your client and ultimately delivering the value they need.
So how can you craft that customization and personalization to be most effective? As you consider your customers’ needs, ask yourself these three questions:
- What did customers value and need from us prior to the crisis?
- What do our customers need from us right now?
- How will our customers’ current needs inform what they’re going to need and covet from us in the future?
These insights will help you better serve your customers, and providing the value your customers need will help create the brand evangelists that are even more important now.
However, answering these questions isn’t always easy, particularly in these volatile times. So if you have not done so already, create a Client Advisory Board (CAB). Pick five of your most valued customers and convene with them quarterly. Their perspective and expertise will help you better craft your own goals — and help you to maintain an advantage over your competition.
Take Control of Your Calendar
One of the biggest challenges of this pandemic and the stay-at-home protocols has been navigating a world with a lack of human contact. For many of us, including myself, that’s meant saying yes to a lot of video calls, even if these calls were not directly related to our business goals. And for many of us, that’s meant a lot of bouts with Zoom fatigue — and a lot of evenings where we wonder where the workday went.
Many of us have been living the digital version of what I call “coffee shopping”: unproductive networking meetings that are great for the ego — but not for much else. And time management is actually even more critical now that many of us are working from home. Research from NordVPN shows that employees working from home in the U.S. are working an additional three hours a day.
Feel like you’re missing out on the critical thinking time you need for your business? Then, remember that what gets scheduled gets done. Lynn and I have restored my meeting protocols recently, and it’s made a big difference. Just like when I worked in my office, I no longer take calls before 10 a.m. And I only accept Zoom invitations if they align with my mission to move my business forward or serve a customer in need.
We’ve all got the same 24 hours in a day as everyone else. Make sure you’re using them wisely.
Meet the Moment with Content
As someone who’s made his living over the past decade through live speaking, I’m a big proponent of human interaction and the live experience. When it comes to education, there’s nothing like it, and I know that live events will return when it is safe.
But over the last decade, the world has become increasingly comfortable in connecting digitally, and that trend has accelerated during the pandemic. Extending your expertise through technology has never been easier, and it’s essential in this time to help you build high-trust, high-value relationships.
Creating content offers you the opportunity to do just that. And don’t hold back. Give your best ideas away for free. That is what creates opportunity!
I’ve seen a large increase in my consulting work, often through people who’ve engaged with my content. By demonstrating my expertise, I’ve attracted clients who want me to help their businesses pivot. And I couldn’t have done it without ongoing investment in our content marketing strategy. Getting referred or found is always better than going out to the marketplace cold.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
While every crisis is a battle with uncertainty, the level of uncertainty during this crisis is unique. Every day, we learn something new about COVID-19, and every day, we are evolving our decision-making in our business to reflect a new reality.
And with our situation constantly evolving, communication is critical. It’s not just about ensuring your team knows the situation. It’s about creating engagement and buy-in at your organization during a difficult time. Two of the leading drivers of engagement are confidence in leadership and confidence in the future success of your organization. And if you’re not communicating effectively with your team, then you’re doing more than being silent. You’re costing your organization money.
So how can you be a more effective communicator right now? First, check-in more often with your team. Keith Sampson, national sales director at North American Bancard, has been doing a phenomenal job during this crisis. He is communicating with his team almost daily through a private Facebook page, and he’s made himself available for individual team members whenever they need it. Other leaders I know have increased the frequency of their one-on-one check-ins with team members, something I wholeheartedly recommend.
But the other part of communicating effectively is being sure that you have the courage to communicate when you’re wrong. To tell people when you have bad news. Your team knows if things aren’t okay. But they need a confident and decisive leader to guide them through the hard times. If you want to create loyalty and commitment as you ask your team to sacrifice, then be open and honest with them. If you’re wrong, tell them why. If you don’t have all the answers, tell them that too.
Recommit to the Result
I’m a big believer that you can grow your business in any economy, and you can absolutely sell your way out of a recession. So as you consider your pivot, set your BHAG: big, hairy audacious goal.
And again, it’s okay if you’re BHAG is a reset. But commit to that reset and the daily actions required to drive results.
The window of opportunity is there for you. Let’s take it!