When I ask business leaders how things are going these days, the overwhelming response is that the new year has brought less (not more) activity. Any holiday goodwill or Q4 budget spend has quickly dissipated in favor of an environment of extreme caution. It almost feels like the old children's game of 'hide and seek' where everyone has searched for a safe place to hide while you close your eyes and imagine all the possibilities.
When are we going to get to twenty so the action can start?
There are a lot of mistakes leaders can make during a crisis in their business. The worst and most unforgivable of all though is hiding. We identified a persona during our Winning in a Down Economy research that we called 'Denial Dan'. Dan has his head in the sand (or in this case his hands over his eyes) just waiting for this all to go away. He's not talking to anyone and he's not making any decisions. He's hoping he can somehow turn back the clock and have all of his prospects sitting right there in front of him ... begging to play the game vs. off hiding in places he has to go find them.
Dan's situation is only going to get worse before it gets better. Yours doesn't have to though. If you want to win the game, it's time to open up your eyes and pursue ... in your case 'relevance'. Now is not the time to be timid. You can gain an advantage by initiating discovery conversations with your market and identifying needs your business can fulfill.
- Pick up the phone and call some of them to find out more about their current needs.
- Initiate internal dialogs with your team to identify problems you can engage your resources on solving.
- Market a 'single' solution option that is perfect for these times.
- Leverage your social network to identify relevant conversations you can have with buyers.
In short, smoke em out! Far too many of us have developed business practices that work well in good times when the market is spending freely. Expecting them to work in today's market reminds me of all the .com salespeople I met in 2003 and 2004 who thought they could still sell technology products as business development projects for millions of dollars. Not only were they not as good as they thought they were, the market literally saw them coming from a mile away and hid from them.
It's time to change the way you think and the way you work. Build up your energy, raise your voice and attack your market. Just like in hide and seek, your buyers will actually enjoy engaging.
UNRELATED NOTE: Go Cardinals! Of all the things that have happened that surprised me in the last 120 days, nothing has shocked me more (nor given me more pleasure) than seeing the Arizona Cardinals make the Super Bowl. It reinforced my belief system that indeed ALL things are possible.