Have you had enough yet? Do you feel like this is never going to end? Have you exhausted all of your resources, including your calmness and patience, to the point where you are ready to scream? Do you not really care anymore? Do you want to escape to the past when life seemed so easy, and you could get in your car to see customers? Do you remember those good ol’ days? Heck, even live cold calling seems like more fun than what we’re doing today.
In the past few weeks have been talking to a lot of salespeople who seem to be at the end of their proverbial rope. Sure, these pandemic restrictions were okay when we were getting used to them, and all we had to care about was if we were going to have enough toilet paper or hand sanitizer. That’s when many of us thought we would be back in the air in a month, or maybe two at the most, and be back to our normal lives.
But now we are over five months in, with no real end in sight. Many of my colleagues are at the point of going to the window, ripping off their masks, and yelling, “We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore!”—until they realize that they can yell all they want, but this pandemic is going to run its course (whatever that may be), or we will have to wait until we get the vaccine (whenever that may be). No amount of mask-ripping and shouting is going to change that.
At first, it seemed easy and logical to adapt to the “new normal,” as everyone was fond of wryly calling it—a phrase that was used so frequently that it came in second to that other overused phrase “we are all in this together.” Yes, we are all in this together, and we are growing tired of the grind and the sameness that every day during this pandemic brings.
Months ago (it seems like years now), I wrote a series of columns on how to handle sales in these challenging times. I even produced a presentation called “Business as Usual: How to Successfully Sell When You Can’t Visit Customers.” For a while, that all seemed to be working for some of my readers. More recently, I even wrote some advice columns on how to prepare for getting back to business as usual, but from where we sit today, that was premature.
But what do we do? This is not going to be over soon, so we have to do what we can to play the hand we have been dealt. This is the time when we separate grown-ups from kids. This is a time for grace under pressure. This is the time to have the strength to not only endure but find ways to thrive in these unprecedented times.
So, get to it! Here are three things we can all be doing to make these abnormal times as normal and productive as we can with the situation at hand.
1. Control Your Day
Remember when your day was controlled for you, and you were stuck for hours in meetings that were someone else’s idea? Remember when you sat there, listening to some person pontificating on whatever they thought was important for you to hear, while you were thinking of everything you could be doing with your time if you were on your own? Now, you are on your own. Your days are your own, so own them. Develop an hour-by-hour schedule of what you want to do. List all the items you want to get done throughout the day and designate times that you will work on and complete them.
2. Do the Things That You Felt You Never Had Time to Do Before Now
Work on your marketing. Send out newsletters. Develop a step-by-step plan to gain more business. Call people. Get in touch with old customers and try to bring them back to life. Companies are in flux, and many of them are looking for new suppliers. Potential customers are on the lookout for you, so make sure you can be found. Reach out to them, and they may be ready to finally listen. The best thing about times like this is that unusual things are happening, so take advantage of that.
3. Take Care of Yourself
This could be the most important thing to do for yourself right now. Many of the folks I’m talking to are tired of this crisis with no end in sight and being isolated, and they are downright scared of what the future will bring. I tell them to bring a little joy into their lives. Work on that 32 Ford you’ve had hanging around behind the garage for years, take a walk every day, read good books, and take some downtime to recalibrate your brain and psyche so that you will feel like you can breathe again. In other words, take a break!
And in the spirit of under-promising and over-delivering, here’s one more:
4. Remember to Laugh
You have to laugh. Laughter is a true balm for the soul, so keep finding things to laugh about. Even in these times, there are—believe it or not—many things to laugh about. Try it. You’ll like it.
And if all else fails, give me a call, and I’ll talk you down off the ledge. I’ve gotten pretty good at that lately. I’ve had a lot of practice.
But the most important thing you can do is hang in there. This will pass soon enough, and life will return to the way it used to be (or as close to it as we can in this new era). And remember, lest you haven’t been reminded in the last five minutes, that we’re all in this together.
It’s only common sense.
Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group.