Now, more than ever, we need to keep our growth engines running. Sales must maintain activity levels. Marketing must keep the digital lights on. This is not the time to slow down or stop.
This past week I've talked with many leaders that are facing hard choices. I've seen some companies make the first cuts in sales and marketing. I understand there are hard choices to be made in this season. There may be some fat you can trim that should have been done months ago. But overall, I want to challenge businesses leaders: keep your growth engines running.
Fortunately, it seems like the Small Business Administration is committed to keeping the American economic engine running. Low interest loans with favorable terms are available for leaders that have the guts to keep moving forward.
We have to keep the growth engines running.
This crisis will pass. When it does, companies that kept their growth engines running will be ready to help. Companies that shut down their engines will scramble to get going again. Many of them will not have the resources to get restarted.
Your Revenue Growth Engine is the sum total of your sales and marketing efforts. Together, these activities drive the lifeblood of your business: revenue.
Have you ever tried to time the stock market? That never works well for anyone. And even if you could time the market and get back in at the bottom, sales doesn’t work like that. In order to be there at the bottom, you have to be there. If you don’t have a sales team, you won’t be there and you’ll miss out on the rebound.
Your growth engine is more like a freight train than a race car. You can’t just go from a dead stop to 80 miles per hour. Revenue comes from relationships. Relationships are built and sustained over time. If you sideline your sales team, you can’t sustain relationships. If you turn off your digital marketing, you erode trust. Right now, we need to maintain momentum.
You might think you can restart when everyone comes out of their bunkers. The problem is that your revenue engine is like a freight train. It might take more resources to restart from a dead stop than it will to keep the train in motion. If you are able to restart from a dead stop, you might not be able to get in motion as fast as your competitors who kept their engines running.
Our government leadership have said that they prefer to help businesses keep people employed rather than pay out unemployment. It appears they are willing to help us weather this storm so we can come out strong. Why are they willing to help? If every businesses shutters their sales team and closed their digital doors, our economy will be in even worse shape, causing even more misery. We need to keep the engine running.
In sales, we talk about hunters and farmers. Hunting is fun because you see immediate results. If you have an opportunity to help someone right now, bag the deal.
Guess what? For the most part, we are farmers in this season.
What do farmers do? They cultivate the soil, plant seeds, and maintain their equipment.
Right now we are planting seeds. No farmer would expect a harvest immediately. This comes in time. Any farmer that doesn’t plan seeds right now is living in fantasy land if they think they can harvest a crop in six months. Sales and marketing plant seeds by being present, communicating consistently, and sharing helpful ideas.
Farmers till the soil. It’s hard, unrewarding work. However, for seeds to grow and bear fruit, this work needs to be done. Sales cultivates relationships by staying in touch with prospects and clients, empathizing, and offering to help. Marketing cultivates the ground by sharing helpful ideas that build trust.
Farmers use the winter to maintain their equipment. Tractors are serviced and cleaned. Implements are prepared for the rigors of the next season. Sales needs to take this time to sharpen their sales skills. Marketing needs to take this time to maintain the online presence. Harvest will come and the companies that take this season to maintain their equipment will be ready.
Here are some ideas to keep your growth engine running.
Sales must remain active. While things were going well, you may have managed yourself or your sales team based on hunting metrics: sales results. During this season of planting and cultivating, you may need to grow manage and reward your team based on top-of-funnel activity. You might adjust your comp plan temporarily to reward reps based on calls, social touches, sequences launched, and periodic business reviews.
Train your reps. Invest in your team during the off season so they can hit field ready to win.
Marketing must keep communicating. When you stop communicating, you cease to engage in the digital world. Right now while we are working from home, we are undeniably in a digital world. For years, marketing experts have been urging us to build and maintain a vibrant online presence because our buyers are digitally-enabled and socially-empowered. How true is this now?
Does you message need to change in the short term? Yes. (Some ideas here: Outcomes Clients Want During a Crisis: How To Shift Your Sales and Marketing Message In the Short Term.) But you must keep communicating and stay digitally engaged.
This season for marketing to plant, cultivate, and maintain the equipment. Keep communicating by sharing ideas on your blog and social media. Take this down time to improve the website and refresh you sales collateral. Have you put off investment in marketing automation and sales enablement? Now is a good time to get this infrastructure in place.
Some companies will stop their engines right now. Sales people will be laid off. Marketing will come to a grinding halt. This will be done in the attempt to survive and preserve salaries for core employees. Here's the challenge with this mindset: if you don't have a growth engine you won't have a company.
I implore you: find a way to keep your growth engine running. I realize hard choices need to be made in this season. However, the companies that shut down their growth engine will have a really hard time in the aftermath.
Companies that dig in, plant seeds, cultivate the ground, and maintain their equipment will be there to reap the harvest.
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