Are You Virtually Prepared for the Personal & Professional Impact of Coronavirus?
The coronavirus. COVID-19. It’s all over the news, and already greatly impacting people and businesses alike. We’re being affected personally and professionally. Schools are closed, restaurants and retailers are closed or operating in a limited capacity, and businesses have implemented mandatory work-from-home policies.
But what exactly will that impact be? And how can we prepare ourselves, our families, our customers and our communities for that impact? Let’s break it down.
To listen to our sALES with ASLAN episode on this topic, check out episode #46 – How to Prepare for the Business Impact of Coronavirus:
Almost all companies have mandated that employees work from the safety of their own homes. So, first things first, make a WFH plan.
1. Set up a home office
Find or carve out a quiet space where you can set up your laptop and phone. Set up another monitor if necessary. Make sure you have cell service and that your WiFi signal is strong.
The goal is to minimize distractions in your workspace to help you remain as productive as possible.
If you have kids, prepare for them to be home as well while you’re at work. Hint: the kitchen table probably shouldn’t double as your home office.
If you are going to be on camera, make sure you have an appropriate background (i.e. no hanging shirts behind you in your closet). Don’t sit in front of a window on video calls. You’ll look like you’re giving an “anonymous” confession. Many onboard cameras aren’t very crisp and may look dark, so consider getting a high def webcam.
2. Communication is key
If you don’t have one, invest in a headset or quality headphones. This will help you focus on that task at hand during calls and/ or online conferences.
Find and utilize a remote collaboration tool – most companies use something like Zoom, RingCentral or Google Meet. Video meetings will help you feel more connected to your team during virtual collaboration.
3. Try to stick to your “normal” work routine as much as possible.
Wake up, get dressed, make some coffee and start work at your normal start time. At least you’ll get to skip the commute!
Avoid working from bed and try not to take calls while performing other household tasks. Stick to your designated work space when carrying out your professional duties.
Schedule your days with calls and virtual meetings just like you would at the office.
4. When you’re done for the day, try to leave work “at work.”
Maintaining a work/life balance while working from home can be tricky, so do your best to separate the two.
This new study from Hubspot may give you some perspective from those who have been working remotely for some time. It has interesting statistics regarding WFH “regulars:”
“56% of those surveyed work around 8 hours a day, with 35% reporting working more than 8 hours” and
“45% of remote workers take less than an hour lunch break, while 25% work through lunch” and
“Believe it or not, remote workers don’t fill their days with caffeine any more than office workers, drinking two cups of coffee a day on average.”
Be sure you’re taking care of yourself, physically and mentally. Try to get your workout in as well. Even if that means a quick yoga flow, some push-ups, or a long walk, it’s vital keep your body healthy.
For more WFH tips, check out Sales Hacker’s article 18+ Working from Home Tips: How to Set Up & Thrive with Remote Work.
Companies will slow their growth. This will occur for several reasons: demand is down, the product isn’t available due to a decline in supplies/ materials coming from China (the average lead time from China is 30 days, so shipments are going to slow down), and companies will thus pull back their forecast.
More specifically, the industries most “at risk” to feel the initial impact are travel and tourism, entertainment, technology and automotive (based on dependence on suppliers and manufacturers in Asia), clothing, luxury, etc. Basically, nonessential goods and services.
In general, the organizations that will be most impacted are:
- Organizations with a large customer base in Asia
- Organizations with large suppliers in Asia
- Organizations that depend on either of those two types of companies
The longer this goes on, the greater the impact will be. As we navigate this shift in our personal and professional lives, here are things we can do as sales reps and leaders:
Areas of Focus as a Salesperson:
- Accept that your product/service might be an easy, short term cut (like travel)
- Be a partner – help your customer navigate this
- Review your prospects for industries / organizations at risk for impact – adjust accordingly
- Be assertive about getting work scheduled and done
- Decide if virtual and/or online would be a benefit
- Help clients use downtime to do training or research
- Help clients prepare for quick return of market and demand – be ready on front-end
Now we’ll take a deeper dive into how we, as sales reps and leaders, can use this opportunity to make a difference and where we need to shift our focus.
Sales Reps & Sales Leaders: Do What You Can
ASLAN CEO Tom Stanfill urges reps and sales leaders to remember that there’s always a way to win. In the face of this challenging time, he says:
This does not imply capitalizing on the situation at hand. It simply means to accept that just as there are things beyond our control, there are things that we can do to make a difference.
You cannot control the coronavirus (beyond washing your hands and staying away from others), but what you can control is how you continue to “show up,” at least figuratively during this quarantine period, and serve your customers the best you can.
Right now, we’re trying to minimize human contact. There’s less travel happening and fewer meetings. We’re not going to lose power or infrastructure, but we’re going to lose human interaction due to social distancing. People will not be living in the same way. Their attention is elsewhere. Business as usual is suspended.
If you’re selling any kind of product or service that’s not relevant to what’s happening to people right now with the coronavirus, then you’re going to be put on the back burner. In the short term, you’re dispensable.
Do what is right and helpful.
Start by figuring out where you can fit into all of this and help be a part of the solution. Motive is transparent. If your motive and intentions are clear and for the good of all, there is so much you can do. It’s not about taking advantage of an opportunity, it’s about using the opportunity to be of service.
Partner with your customer to think through every aspect of the situation. Check in on them. This can be scary for reps – if you call to check on your customer, they could respond by cancelling their order. But reassure them. Say something like:
“Look, we’re all going through this, and I’m just trying to make sure that you and I, as partners in this, are thinking through every potential option…”
Now you’re coming at the situation from a business partner/ advisor perspective, and that’s a completely different approach.
Your quota might be hurting this quarter, but if you can do your part during this time, try to help, try to get in front of people, try to solve some of the dozens of problems they may be facing right now, it will pay off in the long run. Business will come back and your customer will remember you. They’ll know who you are and how you are, and that you always have their best interest at heart, in good times and bad.
When you approach this situation from an Other-Centered® perspective, there’s a way for us to lift each other up and get through this time together – as businesses, salespeople, families, and human beings.
Your customers might remember what you said during this time, but they will definitely remember how you made them feel.
And if you make them feel like you’re a part of their team, and have their best interest in mind, regardless of what the short term looks like, you’ll both benefit from it in the long run.
“If you focus on helping people, it’s going to pay dividends,” says Mark Lamson, President of ASLAN.
Look for the positive indicators.
Positive indicators of reversal to look for as signs that we are turning the corner:
- Spread of virus to slow. Check out the John Hopkins chart for live updates
- China starts reverse actions and levels of quarantine.
- Other travel-related bans are lifted
- Vaccine is created (approx. 6 months to a year)
Eventually, everything will turn around. Bans will be lifted, travel will ramp back up, schools will re-open, and life will continue. When they do, it’s going to happen quickly – so use this time to prepare.
In the meantime, read relevant news and information, internalize how it’s going to impact your industry and your customer, and from the heart, react to that. Help your customer stay informed and strengthen the partnership you have with them. Send an email and say something like:
“I saw this article and thought of you, maybe this will help you think through some things?”
Your job is to help your customers navigate – and especially during this turbulent time. Share with your customer and help them prepare for the rebound. Make them feel that you are the partner they deserve.
Be Other- Centered®. At ASLAN, this is always the core of how we do business and how we sell. And it’s especially relevant during these chaotic times. When you approach the situation by trying to actually be of service, and tailor yourself and your goals to be a part of the solution, we’ll all win.
We’re all in this together.
At this risk of sounding too cliché, it’s safe to say that we’re all in the same boat. It’s imperative to keep that in mind as we navigate the stay-at-home order and adjust our lifestyles according in the coming weeks and even months. Stay home, stay safe, stay healthy, and remember:
“It’s not about what happens to you, it’s about what you do about what happens to you.”
The best way to get to know us is to know what we value. If we teach it we live it, because what we do speaks far more eloquently than what we say. We’ll always choose people over profits, and we’re most fulfilled and effective when we serve. It drives our culture, frames our training programs and transforms the lives of the clients we partner with.