Some Important Questions to Ask

Yes, every business Owner or CEO has some important questions to ask. The answers will determine who thrives and who gets left behind.

I doubt that there’s a single person reading this who is happy about the Coronavirus and its effect on the economy.  The company presidents and owners I talk with are all frustrated and concerned about the forced transition it’s inflicting upon us.  They’re looking at their sales teams and asking, “Who’s going to help us sell our way out of this crisis and how are they going to do it?” Even when the economy “re-opens,” most people recognize that many of these changes are here to stay.

While we can’t control the overall economy, we can control our reaction to it. In fact, how we react over the next 6 months is going to determine who thrives and who gets left behind. 

One of the hardest and yet simplest choices we need to make is whether to play defense and hope everything goes back to normal or to play offense and embrace these changes. Every company needs to be thinking about these questions, addressing them and taking action accordingly. 

For example:

  • Selling remotely. As a result of “social distancing,” most people are working remotely. The “home office” has been with us for a long time but now that so many are working remotely, new issues arise.  Do our people have the skills and attitudes necessary to be successful? Do we have the systems and processes in place to support them and hold them accountable? Do our managers and sales leaders have the right coaching and motivation capabilities for this new environment?
  • Vendor Support and Development.  The economic changes that affect us in the leasing business also affect our partners. Their markets have changed. Their competitive environment is different. How can we help them be more effective? How can we be better partners? Do we understand their problems and have a way to address them? Do they know that and trust us to deliver new and better solutions?
  • Sales Forecasting. Having a centralized system to manage the sales pipeline is even more critical when people can’t be face-to-face. Does our system use the right metrics and milestones? Can we trust the sales forecast and rely on the pipeline? Does the team use the system as a tool to be more effective or do they look at it as something that just benefits management? 
  • SmartSizing. Marlin Business Services recently furloughed 120 employees. Many other companies will need to make some similarly tough decisions. Is it as simple as letting go of the bottom X%? Maybe people can be more productive in different roles, with a different strategy? Will the same skills that got us here take us where we need to be in this new environment?

Two things are clear. First, the transition we’re experiencing is not optional. We don’t have a choice in the matter. It’s affecting all of us. Second, we do have choices in terms of what we do with it and how to react. The answers to the questions above, and many others, will determine each company’s best path forward and how to chart that path.

Now’s the time to embrace the new reality and make some smart decisions. The choices we make in the short term will determine who thrives and comes out of this on top and who gets left behind.

I’d welcome your thoughts and feedback.

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