There is a great song in the smash musical Hamilton in which Angelica sings about three facts of her life that are all true at the same exact time, even though those three things seem like they are in opposition to one another, and how hard it is for her to reconcile those three things. It seemed a pretty apt metaphor with what the entire world is dealing with as we continue to navigate the quicksand that is business in the midst of a global pandemic. Three things, sometimes even things that seem like they may be in opposition to another, can be true. At the exact same time.
That got me thinking of you trying to do what you do, as a print salesperson, in a global pandemic. Even if you are not directly involved in the sales process, you know that everything is different now and has been for the last 6 months and that not only are “things” probably not going to back to “normal”, but we have no idea what kind of a normal timeframe might even look like. Hybrid school, offices closed, people working from home. Not. Normal.
It makes doing what we do hard.
So here are three observations:
1. You cannot do what you used to do in the way you used to do it.
You cannot see your customers and prospects face to face. They are not picking up the phone. You do not have their home office phone numbers. Their work voicemail boxes are full. You don’t’ have their home addresses so you can’t send them mail. You’re not sure if you mail something to their office if they will get it. Exhausted yet? Me too.
It stinks, and that’s putting it mildly. I’ve talked to enough salespeople out there to know that many of you have flat out given up. You are paralyzed with anger and resentment over a situation that you held no role in, is not your fault, and you cannot fix it. And so, you stew. You cross your arms over your chest, angry look on your face, and do what? Show up every day and stare at a screen? Pretend to “work”?
I know this does not apply to all of you. And I am not even being critical of you if this IS you. I understand. I empathize. I am with you.
But it is time to move on now. It is time to say goodbye to the way the world used to be, and hello to a new way of working. A new way to engage. A new relationship with your clients and prospects. This will not happen overnight. For some of you, it will not be easy. But neither was Facebook, and we all seemed to get the hang of that, didn’t we? Can you remember your life without it?
It is time to move on, because…..
2. There ARE things, lots of things, that you CAN do right now.
You can still call people. But not to ask for a meeting, or for business. Just to say, “How are you? I am here.” Full stop.
You can participate in social media a lot more than you are right now. At a bare minimum, LinkedIn, and at most every single channel where you clients and prospects are spending time, which is to say ALL OF THEM, if for no other reason than to lurk and gather intel.
You can cultivate content sources that educate you, your colleagues, your clients, and your prospects. Great blogs. Informative videos. Entertaining posts. Find them. Like them. Comment on them. Share them. Tag people. Encourage your colleagues to play along. Their interactions with YOUR interactions will up your profile and get you noticed by the people you want to notice you.
3. Doing those things requires new skills, a new mindset, and a new goalpost.
Think of it this way. You can aim for interaction over transaction. Connection. Education. Those are your goals. That is what you strive for. And your reward? Relationships. Loyalty. Contact. And being viewed as a content provider. A thought leader. And that is way more valuable today than being a great salesperson.
From this point forward all bets are off. It’s time to reinvent. You have some great examples to follow by way of other contributors to this blog collection, and a myriad of others on LinkedIn and elsewhere. You have nowhere to go but up.
As a sales and marketing coach and consultant at Success In Print, and Girl #2 at #GirlsWhoPrint, Kelly Mallozzi advocates for graphic arts companies to keep fighting to keep print relevant. She may be irreverent, but what she lacks in convention, she makes up for in smart-assery.
Kelly is a regular co-host on the #GirlsWhoPrint Podcast along with Deborah Corn. She is also a mentor to several future sales stars and she connects to them through the Women’s Print Mentoring Network. Check out her book, co-authored by Bill Farquharson: Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How. Kelly also occasionally guest blogs at Printing Impressions and you can see her most recent posts here.