Okay, have you had enough yet? Do you feel like this is never going to end? Have you exhausted all of your resources, including your calmness, and patience, to the point where you are ready to scream? Are you at a point where you don’t really care anymore, you just want to escape to the past when life seemed so easy? A time when you could just get in your car, and call on your customers? Remember those good old days? Heck, even live cold calling seems like more fun than what we’re doing today right?
I have been talking to a lot of salespeople in the past few weeks who seem to be at the end of their proverbial rope. Sure this pandemic was okay when we were getting used to it, when all we had to care about was if we were going to have enough toilet paper or Purell, when we thought we would be back on the road in a month, or maybe two at the most, and then we would be back to our normal lives.
But now we are over five months in and with no real end in sight. Many of my colleagues are at the point of going to the window, ripping off their masks, and yelling “we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!” That is until they realize that they can yell all they want, this pandemic is going to run its course (whatever that may be) or until we get the vaccine (whenever that may be) and there is no amount of mask ripping of and shouting that is going to change that.
At first it seemed easy and logical to adapt to the “new normal” as everyone was fond of wryly calling it. A phrase that was used so frequently that it came in second to that other overused phrase “we are all in this together”. Yes, we are all in this together, and we are growing tired of the grind, tired of the sameness that everyday in this pandemic brings
Months ago (it seems like years now) I wrote a bunch of columns on how to handle sales in these challenging times. I even produced a presentation called Business as Usual: How to successfully sell when you can’t visit customers. And for a while, that all seemed to be working for some of my readers. Then a few months later I even wrote some advice columns about what to do to prepare for getting back to business as usual, but from where we sit today that was premature.
But what do we do? Listen folks this is not going to be over soon, so we have to do what we can to play the hand we have been dealt. This is the time when we separate the men from the boys, and the women from the girls. This is a time for “grace under pressure”. This is a moment to have the strength to not only endure but find ways to thrive in these unprecedented times.
So, man up, woman up and get to it! Here are three things we can all be doing to make these abnormal times as ‘normal” and productive as we can with the situation at hand.
- Control your day: remember when your day was controlled for you? When you were stuck for hours in meetings that were someone else’s idea? When you sat there listening to some person pontificating on whatever they thought was important for you to hear, while you sat there thinking of everything you could be doing with your time if you were on your own? Well, guess what? Now you are on your own. Your days are your own, so own them. Develop an hour by hour schedule of what you want to do. List all the items you want to get done throughout the day and designate times that you will work on and complete them.
- Do all of those things that you felt you never had time to do before. Work on your marketing, and send out newsletters. Develop a step by step plan to gain more business, and call people. Get in touch with old customers and try to bring them back to life. The fact is that companies are in flux, and many of them are looking for new suppliers. Potential customers are on the lookout for you so make sure you can be found. Reach out to them, they might be ready to listen finally. The best thing about unusual times like we are in, is that unusual things are happening, so take advantage of that.
- Take care of yourself. I think this could be the most important thing to do for yourself right now. Many of the folks I’m talking to are tired, they are tired of this crisis with no end in sight, they are tired of being isolated, and they are downright scared of what the future will bring. So, I tell them to bring a little joy into their lives. Work on that 32 Ford you’ve had hanging around behind the garage for years, go for a walk every day, read good books, heck read a good novel, take some down time to recalibrate your brain and most importantly your psyche so that you will feel like you can breathe again. In other words, take a break!
- And one more in the spirit of under promising and over delivering once more: Remember to laugh. Laughter is a true balm for the soul so just keep finding things to laugh about. And like all critical times there are, believe it or not, many things to laugh about. Try it, you’ll like it.
And if all else fails give me a call and I’ll talk you down off the ledge, I’ve gotten pretty good at that lately. I’ve had a lot of practice.
But the most important thing you can do is to hang in there, this will pass, and life will return to the way it used to be. And oh yeah, remember (lest you haven’t been reminded in the last five minutes), we’re all in this together. It’s only common sense.