Navigating the New Normal
Through conversations over the past few months with sales reps and dealers working in their local markets, I thought it would be good to reflect on what some have said; many are doing, and my overall observations.
Long and short, everything has profoundly changed, and unlike past "dips," this one is different. So, in turn, you have changed, profoundly. And it is wonderful. The market needs it.
For Sales and Business Development Reps, here are some observations. "It is an excellent time to..."
- Start fresh and build off your experiences. Turn the page. Not just with your sales plan but, how you communicate, how you approach your work, who you target...all of it. No better time than now.
- Think of yourself as the CEO of your territory. Do not wait for leadership to show you the way. They are also trying to figure this all out, and many of them are managing up a lot at this time (e.g., I bet forecasting call frequency has increased substantially) and dealing with their own situations. So, take control of your domain. How are you going to build your business? Have you created a "board of directors" to help you? Are there models you can turn to that are outside of the industry to emulate? For instance, how is the Salesforce rep that covers your same area doing it? Do you know the Salesforce rep? Should you?
- Commit and get comfortable at being a local influencer. Buy an HD camera, a background (I recommend not use the Zoom ones), and a microphone. Use Vimeo, Youtube, Mailchimp, Squarespace, and create. Make content consistently and make it relevant to the local market. You are the master of your local domain. Show it. Need examples? Phil Coppola of Genetec and Chad Lingafelt of Loc-Doc Security are great at this. The hardest part of all of it is starting.
- Think about building in behavioral sciences into your sales approach. Move beyond the technical or catchy buzzwords right now like touchless. Put down the latest product comparison from your favorite paywall blog that adds little to no value but is comfortable. This is about human beings. Becoming aware of human needs and why people act a certain way can help you (and them) not only now but moving forward. Here are some places to read up and watch.
- New collaborations. Reach across the aisle to other brands and partners. Think about ways to bring efficiencies to your dealers by doing joint webinars, trainings, and sales. Maybe create some electronic sales sheets that discuss value creation together. Ideate together on value-added experiences.
- And lastly, remember you are not alone. Do not forget that. I have found that just by getting active on LinkedIn, you will find a deep pool of people in and outside of our industry that is eager to help. Just ask. Reach out and I am happy to help and make introductions.
For Dealers, here are some observations. "It is an excellent time to..."
- Shed the "dealer and installer" moniker and become the Software System Integrator (SSI). It is time. The market is looking for more software-centric integrators. They need and want Software System Integrators. Be who you are and want to be.
- Look closely at the work you do. Is it the type of work you want to do? Need to do? I remember when I had my integration firm, called Energy + Light + Control, we, unfortunately, got pulled into lines and work we ultimately hated. It ruined the business for us. This is much easier said than done but critical.
- Bring some balance between your hardware, software, and service businesses. Our industry is reliant on hardware sales too much. I get why. There is a ton of talk about RMR but what is not talked about enough is how hard it is to change while operating the business day to day. With the changes in the market, now is a perfect time to set the time aside, shift if you have not already, and be purposeful with making the changes.
- Do a line review. Do you have a legacy mix that has helped you in the past but will not be able to take you into the future? For instance, what lines promote Health and Wellness? Do you have any? Should you?
- Retool your marketing, messaging, logo, website, and sales support materials. Especially now that everyone is online and digital. It is essential to take the time to make sure the marketing and messaging are in line with who you are and where you are going. There is a hard cost to doing it but the soft costs of not are way worse.
Please let me know if I missed any that you are doing or seeing. We are a great community made up of people eager to collaborate and help. You are not alone, so please reach out and share.