There are a lot of people experiencing anxiety and fear today. People are scared. They don’t know … [+]
There are a lot of people experiencing anxiety and fear today. People are scared. They don’t know what the future holds for them. They are worried about their jobs, lost business, their paychecks and investments and more—and rightfully so. Most of us have experienced nothing like this in our lifetimes. But, we have a choice. We can choose to live in fear … or take a different approach.
For the past 20 years, I’ve been a part of Dan Sullivan’s Strategic Coach program. Every quarter I meet with Sullivan or one of his coaches to focus on the future, for both my business and my personal life. One of the ongoing themes they preach is creating value. This is especially important, as Sullivan says, in “scary times.” He even wrote a short piece called The Scary Times Success Manual. It’s an excellent guide that reminds us that even though we may be scared, we are still in control of how we react. Again, we have a choice.
While I’ve always been optimistic, Sullivan’s teachings have influenced that optimism, especially in challenging times. With that in mind, here are five powerful ideas we can use to take care of our customers, employees and family members in this time of crisis.
1. Be a beacon of hope instead of pessimism and fear. Many will find this difficult, but it’s a good one, to begin with. Think about how you’re acting. The way you act and the words you use can help calm the fears of others. I’m not suggesting you ignore reality and paint an unrealistic picture, but don’t get sucked into the hype and sensationalism of negative news. In good times and bad, some people can spot opportunities where others cannot. I hear people saying, “My business is coming to a halt.” Why not take this time to do projects you haven’t had time to do? Spend time calling your clients just to check on them, not to sell them. Your actions will demonstrate that opportunity, however small or large, can come from adversity.
2. Offer alternatives. Our neighborhood restaurants closed their doors to guests wanting dine-in service. Instead, they are offering takeout and delivery orders. To keep their people working, they are using their employees to deliver the food versus an outside service. Perhaps you’re out of stock of something because you can’t get your latest shipment; in that case, suggest an alternative. If there is no alternative and the customer still wants the item, you get to make a choice: do you buy the item from the competitor and send it to the customer? If you do, it sends a powerful message. When your customers know you’re willing to forgo a sale or take great steps to meet their needs, it proves that you’re more interested in taking care of them than making a profit.
3. Stay connected. When we call customers, it’s usually about business—something related to what we sell. But for a while, forget about selling; instead, focus on creating value that is about them (your customers) and not about you. When vendors call me, I usually think, “What are they selling?” Recently, I was pleasantly surprised when a vendor called and simply wanted to say hello, hear what I was doing and share what he was doing (unrelated to business). That was it—no sales pitch, not even a mention of the company. He just wanted to stay connected.
4. Next time, plan ahead. While I hope there isn’t a “next time,” there will be another emergency. Hopefully, it will not be something as severe as the coronavirus. It may be as simple as the electricity going out for an extended period of time. What are your plans in times of crisis or even a slight inconvenience? You may already have a plan in place, but if you haven’t done any contingency or emergency planning, I’m sure you will very soon, given what we’ve experienced with this crisis. Planning ahead isn’t just for you and your employees. It’s also for your customers. The best companies have a plan so that their customers can continue to do business as usual in difficult times. Plan ahead for the worst, and hope you never have to execute on those plans. One of my favorite sayings related to this topic is, “Noah built the Ark before it rained.”
5. Forget about your complaints and focus on your gratitude. This comes right out of Sullivan’s manual. You may not get to choose what happens to you when times are tough, but you do get to choose how it affects you. Will you complain or be grateful? Sullivan says, “In an environment where negative sentiment is rampant, the consequences of this decision are much greater. Complaining only attracts negative thoughts and people. Gratitude, on the other hand, creates the opportunity for the best thinking, actions and results to emerge.” This is all about your mindset. When you appreciate what you have, you’ll be in the right frame of mind to find opportunity amid chaos and crisis.
There you have it. Read these ideas, then read them again. It’s important to focus on the bright side during times like these while still doing all you can to provide an amazing experience—for both your customers and your colleagues. Don’t lose your momentum, and don’t dwell on fear or anxiety. Focus instead on these five ideas, and you may find that the days, weeks or even months to come will all seem a little better and a little brighter.