In Shakespeare’s Henry V, there is a scene where King Henry disguises himself as one of his soldiers and walks among his troops to gain firsthand knowledge of what his men are thinking. He approaches a group of soldiers and begins to ask how they are feeling. As anyone can imagine, they are frightened, far from home, and cold. When morning comes, they will be fighting a battle against the French Army with little chance of success as the French have the advantage knowing the land and having a larger army. The King listens and understands their fear and realizes he must do something to lift the hearts of his men if they are to win.
I’ve been a C-level executive for over 20 years and held a position in every major facet of a company, including a few CEO jobs. One thing never changed in any of those positions. We always had to find a way to sell our product or service, and every part of the company had to contribute.
As everyone has realized, today’s business world has been turned upside down and sideways with the current COVID-19 crisis. What was just a few months ago a bright future, adding to what was one of the best economies in recent history, is now some horror story. Marketing teams were working on successful campaigns and sales seemed to just happen. If you had the right message and your product and service showed honest value, there were customers that wanted it.
Then, for many, it all turned grey in the blink of an eye. COVID-19 has come and not only put doubt in our collective future success, it seems that even the mightiest of titans with deep resources are going to struggle. Industry by industry, big and small are facing a true unknown. So where does that leave us?
This is our current situation. It’s easy to see and feel the fear and apprehension. Great leaders across industries are struggling with what to do next.
Thankfully, signs of coming back to a ‘new normal’ are starting to show and the reality of how we can bring our companies back to what we once had is dawning. However, there are some challenges, as shown in a survey recently performed by McKinsey & Company. Over 60% of companies worldwide are decreasing their marketing budget.
The new normal:
- Acceptance of our new reality by assessing our current state and what a modified definition of success would look like. There is no easy way back to what we had.
- Understanding the scarred psychology of buyers and the fear around the new economy we are all entering.
- Having agility to adapt and change everything in your company from products, services, management, staffing, customer management, to technology and operations.
- Playing the long game: creating short term, achievable successes to build upon that will lead to medium-term and long-term stability.
- Reaching out to your contacts that helped you build your business and discussing the “Circle of life;” how collaboratively we all need to help by matchmaking wins.
It will take more insights than listed above, some already learned and some yet to discover, to achieve revenue growth starting today and into the future. The US and the World is recovering from a deep wound and the time it will take to heal is a big unknown. Some believe we are going to see a V-shaped recovery and will be back to normal, and even better than before, quickly, whereas others believe we are in for the long haul and it will take years, maybe decades, to come back to our previous prosperity.
Regardless of your thoughts on how we will recover, now is not the time to consider wild hail-Mary options or to go into a frightened deep hibernation but rather create an actionable structured plan that can provide foundational building blocks to support your company’s future.
Facing the reality of your marketing sales will help you determine how much change needs to happen. If your sales folks have been going by their usual routine and life is normal, great, not much change is needed, but if they are struggling and every customer lead is a blank abyss of uncertainty, new tactics are in order. While sales are challenging in a normal business environment, trying to sell into a black hole of fear and doubt will require courage and creative methods and possibly rethinking of what product or service you are selling.
As with all things in business, after you have a great product or service, it’s all about finding who would be interested (target market), getting the right words, images and videos in front of them (messaging) and selling your heart out (sales).
When approaching the above:
- Your target audience has changed. The world is thinking of needs and less of wants.
- Change your messaging to show that your offering is a need.
- Digging deep and getting creative to help your buyers remove the fear of spending.
- Happiness conquers fear – show them what their world would be like with you in it and how happy they would be.
- Here at Altus we like to talk about the “Art and Science of Sales”. This is never truer than now. The old world was more about who you know (people buy people), and the new world is all a numbers game.
- There is no doubt the new renaissance of “sales by the numbers” was growing industries, and that will not go away, but it will be more important than ever that you personally reach out to your relationships and understand their feelings as a fellow human being in our new world.
While thinking about what was discussed here, if you are a leader in your company, your first job will be to help your team understand the new world and ask them to help participate in figuring out this