Corona, Sales, and Carpet Salesmen

It’s Saturday and the month of April is almost over. It WAS Saturday when I started writing this but now it’s the last day of April. It’s been especially cold this April and the leaves aren’t even out on the trees where I live. That’s been a big bummer. There have been a few days this month that have been perfect Spring days and my body is ready for the warm weather. I just want to get out and work out in my yard. For the most part, Mother Nature took my place, the cool weather and rain has done wonders for my front lawn.
Sales is going to change Coronavirus (aka Covid19) has messed things up in NJ. We’re a part of the lucky ones but we’re all going stir crazy. The kids have been busy with virtual schooling and S and I have been busy with work. I’m thankful that my gig allows me to work from home but I do miss traveling.
Covid19 will change the way everyone will do Enterprise Sales going forward, there’ll be more virtual meetings first and then fly-in’s to do the close. In the long run, that’ll be better because it’ll change how we qualify prospects. More time qualifying and less time running around. That’s always a win in my book.
The first important step is qualifying. It always is. It’s so easy for Salespeople to latch onto some dream of an opportunity that a prospect sold to them that they end up burning a lot of resources to win nothing.
Qualify, qualify, qualify. Be ruthless there.
This virus will change Sales in all industries. My buddy is in medical hardware sales. Had the best quarter ever in Q1 (2020) and is now in the process of furloughing his team. It’s like a feast to famine overnight.
Everyone’s scrambling, I’m getting all kinds of random emails on how some company X can help with my sales. I admire them but I never respond. First, I’m in Sales too, and second, their Lead Gen sucks. I’m not the guy they should be emailing.
To make a Sale now, you have to be selling something that’s life over death to these companies. You need to be selling survival. Without what your selling, your prospect is going to drown and die. There’s no room for pleasure cruises, it’s ‘get in the fucking lifeboats NOW!’
Easier said than done.
Sales Productivity Covey said in his 7 Habits book that we should begin with the end in mind. To build a solid sales process you have to put the right building blocks upstream. That starts with your lead generation process and how you organize yourself. You’re probably trying to generate 100 times more leads now to pass over to your Sales team but that sounds like a lot of desperate noise. Focus on quality instead of an activity.
The flip side of all this is that Sales Productivity is going through the roof but only if you work it. This is prime time to review your lead generation strategy. Build those AI Lead Gen models to find the ‘meat’ among the bones.
Work those social networks. Plan virtual coffee events or virtual happy hours. Talk to other Salespeople outside of your industry. Hustle, hustle, hustle but be smarter. The old ways are not working too well anymore.
Carpet Salesman & End Notes My late neighbor Gene was a carpet salesman when got out of the Navy in 1946. Yes, he was a WW II vet and fought in the Pacific on a Destroyer. He was a humble ‘badass’ who I’d take out for breakfast every so often to ‘catch up.’ Over the years he told me how he was one of the top carpet salesmen for his company many years in a row. He worked in the Southwest territory of the United States and would sell carpets for commercial businesses. Gene was a hustler, he was selling insurance just a few years before he died. I miss him a lot.
One morning he told me that there was an installation problem and he needed to go right away to the customer. He took some young kid with him and told the customer that his problem would be fixed. Then he and the kid devised a solution. The kid spent several days making the fix by shaving portions of carpet, which led to a manufacturing fix for the carpet company.
What Gene told me next stuck with me. He told the kid afterward, “you’re the only one in this company that can fix problems like that now. That experience is worth its weight in gold for the company. Remember that.” The kid got valuable experience that opened up new doors for him. The kid made himself indispensable in times of carpet installation crisis (CIS?).
Our CIS is Covid19.
What’s the moral of my entire rant here?
YOU need to be that kid.