We can all acknowledge that things are crazy right now. It won’t be like this forever, but for the immediate future “business as usual” is not a thing. Though this means we’re experiencing a number of changes, one of the common concerns I’ve heard has to do with how to reach out and talk to managers and leaders of customers and prospects.
People in leadership positions have a lot of new concerns and issues to deal with, but the standard responsibilities of keeping staff productive, hitting quotas and dates, and meeting the needs of customers are all still very real. Further, there are new concerns and situations with personal issues. For example, I have both my college student and high school students at home, as well as my wife, and they all have different concerns and needs. So I understand only too well the interesting challenges that many of us are facing at this time.
Beware the Unwanted Pitch
Juggling all of these priorities at once is quite a challenge, and the last thing most business people want is a cold call, sales pitch or uninvited solicitation. This poses a unique issue for those whose livelihoods depend on reaching out and either building new business or renewing current agreements. I’m of the belief that the wrong message at the wrong time can do more long-term damage than good. Even if you have an idea or product that you believe can be helpful to people in times like these, the approach you take can make all the difference.
My suggestion is to open a conversation or start building a relationship by inquiring how people are doing, and then offer to help in any way you can. Offer to have lunch delivered to folks who may have to be in the office or at a worksite, or free trials and access to tools that can help with business continuity and automation of manual tasks. Or simply share helpful hints and tricks related to adjusting to the new norm. These are all things people will appreciate.
Reach Out—But Don’t Pester
In a crisis, the real key to successful communication is sincerity. People may not always assume best intentions when stressed, so it’s critical to be genuine in your efforts to help. If you get a response, especially one that takes you up on your offer to help, be sure to deliver in a timely manner. If someone took the time to respond, they must have a real need. Also, don’t expect a quick response, and definitely don’t pepper someone with follow-ups. If someone hasn’t responded, that doesn’t necessarily mean your communication wasn’t received—it just may not be their top priority at the moment.
It’s critical to remember that everyone is facing a variety of challenges right now. Finding a way to keep the lines of communication open by offering help and support can be a very positive way to build a strong business relationship that may pay dividends for everyone down the road.
Please be safe, stay smart and persevere. This too shall pass, and ideally we’ll come out the other side with a better sense of finding ways to achieve our business goals and help others at the same time.
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