The pandemic and associated economic disruption has forced all of us to reinvent how we work. Whether it’s within our own organizations, with customers, partners, or suppliers, everything has come up for grabs. We have had to rethink everything we do.
What’s really intriguing is the pandemic has provided a forcing function, driving us to make changes or rethink ours strategies and approaches–but they are things we should have done years ago, independent of the pandemic.
Somehow, success, “just good enough growth,” getting by, or cluelessness have stood in the way of changes that should have been made years ago.
But I find myself in conversations with buyers and sellers that are remarkable. They all have a common theme, “The pandemic has forced us to rethink things. It’s caused us to change our strategies–change how we buy, change how we engage solution providers, work with our supply chain, work internally.” I hear similar things from sales leaders, “The pandemic has forced us to change how we work internally, with our partners, and with our customers….”
But what comes next is really important. The conversations continue, “These are changes we should have made years ago. They make us better, more effective, more impactful……. We will never revert, we will move forward with these changes, even when things ‘get back to normal.'”
For example, we see many organizations adapting WFH as their standard mode of working. As a result they are reducing/redeploying their facilities investments. I’m seeing sales enablement organizations adapting new methods in training and development that are actually much more impactful than how they have worked in the past.
And we are seeing similar changes in how customers buy. They are adopting these changes, not because of limitations to F2F meetings with sales people, but because they have found more effective means of engaging with potential suppliers and solving their problems.
Sadly, many organizations see the pandemic as an interruption, waiting for things to get “back to normal.” Maybe they will reduce some F2F (internally, with customers, with suppliers), but they will revert to the practices and approaches they used before. They will not have leveraged the opportunity to reinvent and reimagine work and their businesses.
So, while it seems a little perverse, the silver lining behind the pandemic is that it has forced all of us to rethink and reimagine our businesses. For those who are taking advantage of it, it will change them for the better forever.
The next challenge is, how to we create an ongoing culture of rethinking and reimagining everything we do? How do we integrate this into the fabric of our businesses, not waiting for the next crisis that forces us to change.
Afterword: As a sidenote to sales leaders, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomena. We tend to talk about all the changes/adaptations we have made to more effectively sell and engage customers. But we forget the fact that customers are going through the same process. Customers are changing, in profound and rapid ways, how they buy. We need to pay attention to them and respond to what they are doing.