I think this has been the fastest year in history! People tell me it’s because I’m getting old, and sure that’s true but come on, not that old. It feels like we just turned the page on 2019 to 2020. Never mind 2020 to 2021! Heck it feels like only last week we were all worried about Y2K and what that was going to do to our world, and that was over twenty years ago now.
I know that people are always saying that next year will not be like any year in our history…well that is always a safe thing to say because it never is.
But this time it’s real. Think back for a minute to December of 2019 and what the world was like and then look around you today to see how many things have changed because of the pandemic.
Now, more than ever we have to take a good look at the world at the end of 2021, evaluate the world as it is today and then plan on how we are going to position our sales and marketing efforts going into the new year. Especially and hopefully as the world opens up again.
Let’s consider what we have learned in the past twenty four months and use that knowledge to better do business in 2022 and beyond.
- Remote meetings: Because we could not visit customers, we had to adapt and find other ways to grow our sales and even do business at all. This caused us all (well most of us anyway) to find new and innovative ways to get in front of our customers. The most prevalent of these was the on-line meeting or Zoom, Skype, teams, Go to Meeting, or whatever you used. The point is that these meetings worked. We got used to them and made them work for us out of sheer necessity. And we learned that yes, you can grow your business without visiting customers. It wasn’t ideal to be sure, but it could be done. Let’s not only remember but keep some of the ideas like the remote meetings, social media, newsletters, and other methods we developed for successfully selling without visiting customers. These will be even more effective tactics when we can visit customers again…when we can have successful, full blown trade shows again. Imagine the power of combining what we learned and started practicing during the pandemic with the way we were doing things before. Wow!
- Working remotely: We also found that tasks like customer service and CAM could be performed remotely. People could perform these functions without leaving their homes. This was a valuable lesson and one that will serve us well in the future. If you take customer service for example, it is much easier and more effective to find and hire great customer service people if they don’t have to be located in your area. You have the whole country and beyond to choose from, right? And it works. This is a trend that we need to keep going with, especially in these times when it has become so much more difficult to find and hire good people. Of course, the same thinking applies to CAM people and others.
- Supply shortages: People in all walks of life, not just our business, got a serious wake up call when we all realized just what price we were forced to pay for that decades-long dependency on other countries. Yes, we learned the real price we had to pay for that $29.95 DVD player from China. We learned that (and are still learning) that we could no longer produce critical products like ventilators in this country. We learned that we can never let our supply chain in this country break off and go to other countries before it comes back again. Even today our electronics industry is suffering from lack of key ingredients like components and laminates. Even today we are lacking the support we need to keep our equipment running; or even buying new equipment. One friend told me that the waiting list for simple via-fill equipment is half a year! But the good news is that we have learned something. Huge component factories are being built in North America as we speak. Laminate companies are taking the “shutters” off their closed North American factories and will shortly start supplying American made laminate again. Equipment companies are growing their support teams in this country. And best of all, industry competitors have started working together, cooperating with each other, helping each other to get better and provide their customers a better product.
One thing I have heard often during the past two years is that “It is a shame to waste a good crisis” And no truer words have even been spoken. If we do not continue to build on what we have learned during this pandemic, then our crisis will have been wasted. Another old saying is, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Well for those of us who were not killed during the pandemic, we owe it to those we lost, to come out stronger, more focused, more determined, and yes smarter than ever before. Yes, let’s do that shall we? It’s only common sense.