Without question, I am a salesperson by talent and training. It seems to be a natural part of how I communicate and relate to others regardless if I am selling a product, a service, or even a concept. As unusual (or even unnatural) some may consider that to be, it is as much a part of who I am as being a Vikings fan or my love of playing poker. So, as you have gathered from former editions of my “Brighter Days Ahead” ramblings, our various forms of pandemic lockdown have been difficult for me. Thankfully, as restrictions at some businesses have been loosed over the course of the last two months, I have become ‘re-energized’ in an effort to meet people where they are. To the tune of 8,000 miles driven over the last 10 weeks visiting with distributors, contractors, engineering firms and other end-users. Hitting communities from St. Louis to Wichita to the middle of Nebraska and dotted across Iowa, I’m always careful to follow the customer’s lead in regards to personal health and safety. These are small inconveniences compared to the value of personal interaction.
During our extended (and ongoing) lockdown, I said the same thing as so many other salespeople, “I can’t wait for things to go back to normal.” In the back of my mind, I considered what so many other suggested in that we will never go back to the old ‘normal.’ 8,000 miles of new travel has proven to me that we most certainly are on a course toward a new normal, and I am starting to see the new, appreciated value of it. Before the pandemic, personal meetings were routine, comfortable and, therefore, taken for granted. Dare I say it, sometimes I was traveling and having meetings just because it felt right but without a defined value or purpose.
As the ‘new normal’ unfolds, I’m finding the process is changed, and I am changed with it. Before my meetings now, I have typically spent one to four different calls, texts, or video conferences preparing for an in-person meeting. Before getting behind the wheel, I’ve taken the approach of having at least a defined objective if not an entire agenda; not just for me, but for everyone involved. In 25 years, never have my meetings had broader conversations that are rich and plentiful, differences are explored, expectations are defined. Value is evident, intentions are validated, goals are defined. The one thing that is the same is that relationships are energized, but there is a definite sense that the growth is deeper and more intense than before.
The pandemic has accelerated the change in what ‘outside sales’ is. R/B Sales Corporation is working with our outside sales team to proactively change our own expectations. What kind of meeting warrants the time, expense and risk of an in-person meeting? We all have the same time to give, but how we spend that time and energy is changed; the skills and focus has been rightly adjusted. More time is dedicated to meaningful preparation. By the time a face-to-face meeting happens, the depth and breadth of the meeting is more valuable to both sides of the table. It has to be. And that is good for everyone.
It’s not enough to simply internalize these insights, so I discussed them with Heather, someone I’ve worked with in many ways for some time. Heather said, “We are designed to be in front of people. Yes, technology is great, but there is still something special about listening to someone, helping them with a problem, and caring about their business. We are made for and need relationship.” I couldn’t agree more. We discussed how the whole process is changed. I replied to her, “I have noticed that sincerity and appreciation is many times greater than it was a year ago. Our job as salespeople is to bring maximum value more than ever before. If we can’t deliver enough value, we may not have the opportunity for their precious time again.” Our agreement edified what had been coursing through my mind.
If you or your company has welcomed me in these last 10 weeks, thank you. Thank you for taking the time and risk to meet in person. I hope you found value and purpose to our meeting. I can assure you that I have not taken the moment for granted, and I hope I never do again.
It’s a new day out there, whether we like it or not. I, for one, embrace it for what it is and for what is will be. The darkness of the pandemic is not over, but it has made the horizon seem brighter and more colorful than ever!
I appreciate you as a person and the busines you choose to give RB Sales more than you’ll ever understand. Please let me know what RB sales or I personally can do for you in the coming days and months.
The poker below (I mentioned poker above) is my exclusive calling card which I started handing out 9 months ago. I wanted something unique and different to see if it helped people remember who I was. I’m very happy to report that I have revisited some of those individuals 6 – 7 months later and my chip is still sitting on their desk more often than not.
Have a Great weekend,