After getting back out (last months suggestion to milk your network), let us not forget it is the sales system and process that wins good business. Some of us are surviving on selling what we have – limited stock, staying focused on the plan, others have a complete business product change but might not have sold through now aging product? Selling through can also be deeply distracting – not to mention brand damaging but whilst you may be excited about the future getting the foundations in order counts. Have you done a line by line on inventory? Should you bother or sell off and move on?

Customers current need top of the list care. They pay your salaries.  The hard won success of a current customer base may have value even if you have changed your model. Actually you may really want to re-look at the customer past base for perhaps more than back to 2019 and sense check you have communicated, cared, reached out and updated. Courtesy might trigger other possibilities and potential that you are not aware of. This also is milking the network you invested to win? When perhaps you have also learnt during Covid of better ways to build, changed direction and indeed some have rebuilt  for a wholly new offering do not forget the linked opportunities.

Wherever you are at in your journey of growth, one thing is for certain. Love the current customer. 

Winning the customer was tough enough, be empathetic to their own position and support their outlook, what are their still current trials and tribulations that perhaps you can solve? We are struggling with some deal decisions not because we cannot sell the product, (indeed quite the opposite), but because right now the lack of staff on the retail side (product display, shelf restacking or simply lack of any sales staff) is a deep concern. Have you really looked at the changes in retail, in space, in display areas? I recently travelled out of Heathrow and many shelves in well known retailers were left empty. Ouch for the brand paying for a listing fee?

In one of our companies KitBrix we make the constant decision to keep investing and turning up.. 

Whom knows what might happen if we really work at an event. One good energetic activation leads to another but the petrol is more expensive, the staff less enthusiastic about a weekend in the NEC(again!) and standing in a sun soaked field when mud and rain are what you really need to sell your Poncho can be deeply disheartening. Cost it with care and really milk those wider opportunities and work shows like no other. You’ll be amazed at the importance of “being” there for the existing customer and you can really build with other suppliers relationships that give pay back. Your teams gain from getting together, there can be training possibilities, shadowing on presentations I just did at the Running Show with my less experienced members all turns into opportunity when properly followed up.

Today we see service industries suffering the delayed decision making stress of budget constraint? Are the consultant class working smart – retaining, contracting and planning ahead to protect income? Is there rainy day reduction in income coming through that could be protected by boldly booking in with key current income streams a fair contracted commitment? Having something in writing should never be an underrated asset?

We are seeing much change also from the current customer on the retail side. Good and bad learnings that effect our companies and our results. For too long we have the owners of Spa’s and wellness places having to deliver the massage service due to lack of staff. They are and have been working just as hard as other leaders ducking and diving to keep in business with endless staff challenges like in the hospitality industry. The fact senior people have to serve the customer can of course bring improvements to the service, to training, to securing relations but it potentially damages new business opportunity.

In fact is really has an effect for the possibilities of income made from ancillary revenue. (Gift sets from Scentered selling in Spa post treatment…so we have to find other ways of helping spa owners make revenue replacement. What are the touch points of how you present your product to help the sell through. Have you remapped that to really be as pro-active to the current customer as you can be? It is worth the time.

Meanwhile never forget the value of the team fighting to help you grow. I have been tiered, grumpier (even grumpier than usual) and it has recently been points out to me in valuable exit interviews.. that it seems I am less genuine about staff care that I was before? That hurts. I, like many leaders, managers and others have had the most challenging periods of their careers but that is why we get paid the better bucks, albeit it does not always feel worth it? At this time when there is so much uncertainty still, you simply have to row smarter and perhaps best suggestion of all, give yourself time for a reset.

It is all very well the follow up and follow through, the endless juggle of the current care for the customer, avoiding leaky bucket of lost of custom but if in the meantime I am killing my business by not caring for my staff because ultimately I am knackered and not caring for myself than ultimately it is not fun and something has to change. Growth might need to wait for a 10 days period in which only you see the downside of being away from the business.

Allow your team to breath whilst you are taking a well-earned rest? Really a proper break. An interesting question for all perhaps? When should you take a holiday? Is there ever a right time? (For some industries there is very much a wrong time.)

I have just taken a holiday, (no customer complained), I turned off my laptop on the Saturday I arrived at destination and then not turned it, or the business phone or any connection on for 14 days? I mean fully out of touch. I knew and have complete faith in the people I have trusted to keep ploughing on and genuinely did not worry that we could or would fall apart. I know that we employ the best in class, those that care for each other and the company. I have the people in place to manage whatever the world next throws and now more than ever I should be focused on retaining and caring for them?

We have been through much together and whilst I have been reminded recently that I have not lead by example I know also without the great people we have working with us we would not be half as capable and nothing like as competent, innovative, customer centric, and caring about the products we represent and sell.


Author Lara

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