Navigating challenging times requires clear thinking and a developed sense of purpose. Waiting for normality to resurface is not the best option. The survivors and winners in this unprecedented moment will be those that recognise the need to change. Reassuringly, there are early examples of businesses re-purposing their capabilities and creating different routes to market. Innovative leadership seeing opportunity beyond survival, or adversity kick starting actions that have laid in waiting – often for too long.
There are endless stories of hardship and loss. Whether corporate leaders, business owners or sole traders it is our duty to help, support and protect our colleagues and workers wherever we can. Society will review the responsibility of businesses, setting new expectations and priorities. We will be held to account. Our companies need to reflect and embrace this new paradigm.
Our customers are expecting a response from us beyond the well intentioned, but cynically viewed email shot of “we’re there for you”. Practical advice and thought through questions are a much better order of the day.
Stronger organisations and new opportunities will surface from this unplanned, left field moment. Now, not later, is the time to act.
I recently was part of an interview panel for a candidate who’d applied for a management role. We asked about using evidence in decision making versus experience, intuition and gut feel. After some thought, our candidate preferred the latter. Interestingly most people do. Our candidate was thinking of examples where “it feels like the right thing to do” had worked well. And this of course was evidence itself of previous successful decision making, even if not quantified specifically.
But decisions are rarely clear cut. They require facts, introduced early on to help our thinking. They shouldn’t be ignored or deemed irrelevant if they don’t suit the answer we’ve already settled on. Experience and intuition have a critical role, but not exclusively.
For example, evidence of customer preferences, purchasing history and demographics is the lifeblood of successful companies. Analysed and used wisely it is the key to areas such as loyalty, pricing and customer care. Evidence should always be the starting point. What do we already know about our customers? It’s an important question and the answer is more than we think, in virtually every case.
When we weighed up the evidence of our candidates suitability, he was offered the role.
Business is hard work. Anything that makes it quicker and simpler, is generally a good thing. When Booker T and the MGs sang Time is Tight, they were right. And it doesn’t seem to matter where you are in business. The sales KPI is never far away. Not surprising. No sales no business.
When it comes to new business, we often we make it hard for ourselves. The first place to start is with who we know and who they know. Not cold calls or emails. Successful companies who fast track sales know it’s their network that can open doors to buyers. Building out a cohort of potential clients through introductions works.
Don’t be afraid to ask. Get out there.
The art of failure is alive and well. When you say you’ve tried, what sort of ‘try’ was that? Anybody who takes up running will tell you the only way to hit 10K is to build up gradually. It’s just not possible from a standing start.
I reflected on this with a CEO struggling with finding new clients. Like the runner, she was trying to do too much too quickly. And morale was sinking.
I advised her that she should apply herself daily to short periods of focussed activity. She did and good progress was made. Taking just a few minutes a day became a winning habit.
If you want to succeed, find better ways.
“There’s someone you should meet, I’ll introduce you.” Familiar words, I hope. Because you want to be that person. “That person” your friend wants to introduce to their contacts because they think both will benefit.
So, if you’re always too busy, hiding behind a cluttered diary or wanting a written proposal before agreeing, forget it. Your response should always be “of course”. Always.
Once in touch you can exercise judgement on whether it’s simply an initial call, to establish common ground. You don’t have to have high tea at the Ritz. Although in certain circumstances you might.
Good things happen when you meet people you don’t know. Serendipity. It’s time spent wisely.
A formulaic approach to hiring and development often isn’t the answer. We teach our children to pass exams. We don’t help them discover what they’re really good at. Exploring different ways of hiring and creating the environment for talent to show itself is what every leader should be thinking about.
My phone number has escaped. Lately, I’ve had a fair number of calls from breezy, chatty people I don’t know. You know the routine… a very familiar, “Hi David how’s your day?”. Err, “do I know you?”. Ignored. “What are you up to?” etc. Today’s was a property agent. So, I’ve decided on a new response. Instead of grumpily hanging up, I’m going to interview them and see if I can hire one. The companies I work with are always looking for fearless sales people. This could be the answer.
“What’s the one piece of advice you think I should take?”. “Do you have one rule you live by and what is it?”.
Looking me straight in the eye were two students I’d just spoken to along with 50 others. This was the Q&A part and they expected answers. Stumbling around with a “depends” kind of response wasn’t going to cut it. If being 50 years older than them was any value at all, now was the time to step up. I apologised for the cliché but told them, “You reap what you sow”. Because you really do, don’t you? When an unconditional act of help is satisfying for that alone, not held in reserve, or bargained with now or later, you’re on the right path.
The Monday Revolution is packed with business stories and anecdotes that can revolutionise your working life. One such story is about Clare, a marketing director who identified a way to create loyal customers and sell more products, but with no additional cost.
David Mansfield has collaborated with StoryPack, an App that shares expert knowledge through short business stories, to share an audio of him telling Clare’s story. Access the App for free for a limited period: https://www.storypack.co/ to hear about Clare’s brilliant solution.