To say 2020 was a different year is an understatement. But great salespeople have always used past lessons to prepare for the future. This past year presented many new lessons. We learned to work in an environment with a pandemic virus. We learned to help customers pivot because of the pandemic. And we found new opportunities. Great salespeople use past lessons finding a way to overcome adversity.
The Big Lesson
For most of us life changed in March 2020. Some states shut down “non-essential” businesses. Companies sent employees home to work. Consumer income dropped dramatically. Business purchasing models changed. Sales processes were revamped to meet the changing environment.
We learned to work from home. Instead of meeting in a business setting we watched each other in small squares on laptop screens. We adapted and survived or maybe even thrived during this time. Because not every business was affected the same. Some pivoted to making facial coverings, some distilleries made hand sanitizer, hospitals preserved space for the sickest COVID infected patients. We great salespeople were creative in our approach to business in this disruptive period relying on the experience of past lessons.
For some of us everything. My son-in-law sells for Manhattan Choral Productions. He books choral groups into Carnegie Hall to study and perform with a guest conductor. Carnegie Hall closed. NYC hospitality and entertainment businesses were severely affected. Nobody wanted to travel and stay in a hotel and gather with 300 other people to sing. So his business and income dropped precipitously. Brian pivoted and opened a new business Road Maestro. Two of our kids work in hospitality in Williamsburg, VA. Tourism tanked with the stay-at-home orders and restaurant closures. They were out of work for a while. Some people panicked and toilet paper disappeared from store shelves at warp speed. Food processing plants where workers work closely to one another closed because many workers were sick. Every business was affected in some way. Those who learned from past lessons were prepared to pivot into the new normal.
What Didn’t Change
Human resilience. We adapted. Great salespeople are creative. We have always found ways to succeed. Our focus on the needs and best interest of our customers never waivers. By understanding the present situation we work hard helping customers adapt to the new normal. Great salespeople are empathetic. We can feel the customer’s pain. With our experience in dealing with a wide variety of buyers we offered help and hope to our customers. We know we are relationship builders. And the past lessons which have prepared us for this time helped strengthen the customer relationships we have. What we learned this year will help us survive and even thrive in the year to come. Because all great salespeople are lifelong learners. We use past lessons to prepare for the future.
Great salespeople are optimistic. We believe when we work hard, apply our skills well and focus on the customer’s needs we will win. Even during the pandemic the human spirit is alive and well. I’m doing business advising for the Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center. When I joined the SV SBDC in late spring, I thought I would be helping businesses figure out how to survive the pandemic. But I have a dozen clients who are starting new businesses. I am amazed at the optimism. These courageous people will take the lessons learned during this pandemic and create new, vibrant businesses.
What You Can Do Right Now With Past Lessons To Prepare For The Future
- Be thankful you survived the year
- Catalog the lessons from dealing with the pandemic disruption
- Commit yourself to apply these lessons
- Help those less fortunate by coaching them