Recently, I engaged with Barb, a top sales producer, about how work has changed for her during this pandemic. We had a conversation about adapting and thriving despite the fact that our lived reality, both at work and in general, is vastly different than it was six months ago. I came to her with questions about how her business is doing and what practices she has taken up in order to succeed. Our conversation went as follows:
Y: How have things changed during the pandemic?
Barb: The mode in which I operate at work has completely shifted. Before this, about 80% of what I did was meeting people face to face to do sales. Because of social distancing, all of my in person interactions have gone down to about 20%. I have had to really embrace doing things virtually. I am not sure I liked it initially, but I have come to appreciate the advantages of being remote.
Y: How is your business? Have you been able to navigate this change well?
Barb: Yes, I think we have been able to navigate this change well and business is doing fine, so it seems. Once we got over the initial two to four week shock, and realized the shut down would last longer than we thought, we began to recreate business activity in this new normal, and this helped out business.
Y: How have you achieved this?
Barb: When there was a small pause around the new norm, I think it has given me the chance to think more creatively about what I do and how I do it. Additionally, I have found that my clients have more availability than they did when we were meeting in person, so this has provided us with an extra opportunity to meet their current needs. I also connected with a few peers in the industry and we agreed to have regular times to touch base and share what’s happening and how we are dealing with it. It’s been nice not to go through this alone!
Y: What are the things you have done to accomplish this?
Barb: To start off, we have really had to become proficient with things like Skype and Zoom for the purposes of staying connected to our clients. It is important to become comfortable with these technologies in order to gain new prospects. This proficiency with new systems can take the form of creating a virtual happy hour, coffee break, or even a virtual lunch meeting, where I organize a lunch to be delivered to both myself and my client.
On that note, I also had to update my technology, including my camera, microphone, and wifi, because my ability to come across digitally was a key component to success.
I have also taken advantage of sending unique and thoughtful gifts to my clients. Since I can’t do something like drop off a box of donuts, I have had to be more creative in noticing specific clients needs and filling them. For example, I noticed a client was struggling with an old, malfunctioning webcam, so I ordered them a new one and had it sent to them. I think thoughtfulness is the key.
I think it’s also important to maintain a sense of fun during these hard times. I’ve been intentional about how to make people laugh—having a fun background on Zoom or sending out a joke or comic can help brighten the mood.
Finally, I have been putting together thoughtful webinars and identifying inhibitors surrounding building relationships virtually. I think this last step is vital to creating a new norm and flourishing in it.
Y: Do you have any advice for other people and businesses?
Barb: Overall, you want to make everything a personable experience and create points of connection. Something as seemingly trivial as small talk can really make a person’s day and help the relationship flourish, even over a computer screen.
The dialog with Barb has been helpful to capture some of the ways she’s been able to adapt over the last few months. What about you? Do you have anything to add?
Yasser Youssef is the president of The Budd Group, one of the leading facility service companies in the country, a North Carolina-based company that provides facility support services in the Southeast. Throughout his career, Youssef has met leaders from all backgrounds, and believes leadership is for everyone. Over the past few years, he has developed an affinity for writing and contributing thought leadership, and is often asked to speak to businesses throughout the country about authentic leadership.