Always Double Down in a Downturn

It's crazy times out there, and for some industries, businesses, and clients, it's not "business as usual" right now.

There's a lot of worries and rightfully so. 

I've been saying it for years that if you don't continually disrupt yourself, something will eventually come around to disrupt you. This is a disruption that many of us weren't expecting.

I'm not an alarmist, and I won't suggest running out and buying all the toilet paper you can scrounge up, but if you do – remember the famous 1-ply toilet paper story (here). There is an ever-increasing sense of panic out there, but stay calm and stay focused.

There are things you can be doing now to put yourself in a stronger position when we come out on the other side of the latest disruption.

My friend Dan Weedin, an expert in crisis management, wrote the following here:

Every crisis – regardless of severity – must attend to three areas for any company: People, Process, and Supply Chain.

People is about how your employees will be affected. Can they become sick (as in the Coronavirus or flu); could they be laid off due to lack of work; is decreased employee morale a concern?

Process is about your internal operation. Will a disruptor damage equipment (e.g. fire); will your reputation be damaged (e.g. product recall); and/or will you lose the ability to connect to the Internet or communicate with customers (e.g. loss of power for an extended time).

Supply chain is about the most critical vendors and contractors to your operations. What happens if they suffer a fire and can't operate? What if they lose the ability to sustain manufacturing operations and your inventory will be decreased? What if they have a crisis where they can't buy from you because they are merely trying to survive?

You can read the rest of Dan's post here.

Dan talks about the importance of process which you've heard me talking about for years.

What does your customer outreach process look like right now?

While others are worrying, you've got an opportunity to have a lot of positive impact with your clients and customers. 

If you don't have one, now's the perfect time to implement one. One of the most powerful things you can do is to go on the offensive and show up when others are busy hunkering down.

Your challenge for this week is simple. 

Complete one of the following tasks. 

Pass this around your executive team, sales team, and customer-facing employees. 

Have them all complete at least one of the following tasks and report back their results to you.

Call Three High-Value Clients

Pick three of your best customers and give them a call. Make a note of the last time they purchased or anything newsworthy about them. It takes thirty seconds to glance at their websites, blogs, LinkedIn feed, or media releases. Of course, this can also just be a friendly call. Just call them up and let them know how much their business is appreciated.

Send Three Thank-You Notes

This one is simple. Send three thank-you notes to customers. You might send to three suppliers or three clients that recently visited your facilities or clients who placed a significant order. Just make it meaningful, memorable, and personal.

Call Three New Clients To Check In

Depending on your business, this might mean clients, distributors, dealers, etc. Pick three new clients who started doing business with you in the last thirty days and reach out to see if their needs are being met. Ask if they have any questions or concerns.

What can you do to exceed their expectations?

Call Three Lost/Inactive Clients

Who's a customer who stopped doing business with you, and why? Do you know? Have you lost any major accounts, suppliers, distributors, retail outlets?

Try this: Pick up the phone and call three lost or inactive customers. 

Here's a few more ideas…

  1. Call three clients and ask if they would be willing to write a testimonial or provide a LinkedIn recommendation.        
  2. Follow-up on three outstanding quotes.  
  3. Follow-up on three pieces of business you didn't get.
  4. Reach out, in a non-salesy way, to three clients by email to check in and see how they're doing during the existing disruption.    
  5. Call three clients and ask for referrals. 
  6. Send three unexpected gifts, extras. These don't need to be expensive, just meaningful, memorable, and personal.   
  7. Drop in and visit three clients.
  8. Connect with three of your clients on LinkedIn. 
  9. Read the NY Times and WSJ this week. Look for at least three pieces of relevant content you could forward to your clients. "Noah, I saw this article and instantly thought it would be applicable to your business."




P.S. Bonus points for completing the assignment and emailing me to let me know your results by the end of the week.