328: Be the Hero | Master Sales Series

Where are you going to be after the inevitable bounce? Will you Be the Hero?

We are taking a different angle for this Master Sales Series episode. George brings to light what it means to be the hero during this time of crisis. Conquer Local’s core purpose has always been to drive local economies by providing knowledge to our listeners. We support local businesses, and during challenging times like these, we’re committed to that now more than ever. We’re here to help our listeners clients through these challenging times. You may be facing staff shortages, remote work, and an evolving marketplace where changing customer habits are hurting your bottom line. We want to Protect Local. 

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George: Welcome to the latest edition of the Conquer Local Podcast. Thanks for everyone that’s been reaching out on LinkedIn. We’re in an interesting time and producer Colleen and sound engineer Brent and myself, we have been talking about what would an episode look like where we taught ourselves organization that we have the privilege of communicating with every week all over the world about, you know there’s probably been some days where you’re wondering, “What’s this gonna look like “and what’s my business gonna look like?” You know, I feel for you, I’ve been an entrepreneur for a big chunk of my life and I remember the days where you weren’t able to make payroll and you had to figure stuff out as you went into various economic situations. So what we want to do today in the coming moments of this podcast where we’re blessed that you would give us some of your time to consume some of our information. Want to talk about what the bounce might look like. 

George: If you look at every major economic event that has happened in human history, it comes with a bounce and that means that things go down, but then they come up again at the end of the day and they actually go higher and that has happened time, and time, and time again through world wars, and through H1N1, and SARS, and the Great Recession, and remember the Great Recession? Wasn’t even that friggen long ago when you think about it. It was 11 years ago where every second house on a block in North America was foreclosed on. It was a horrible, horrible time. Our value of our 401 s and our RSPs if you’re Canadian those went down and then they went back up again. I have some friends that bought property in Phoenix, Arizona during the economic downturn of 2008 that have actually done quite well on that investment. So we’re sitting here where we have a lot of time on our hands because we’re not able to do some of the things that we used to do and maybe this is a little bit special because some of the things that we used to do when we are in a time of economic downturn might be go to our local watering hole, have a couple pints, or maybe spend more time at the gym, or go to the park and even some of those things have been taken away, and that’s weird. We haven’t had that before but I think everybody understands the reason why. 

George: Where are you gonna be when the bounce happens? Where is your business going to be? Where are your customers going to be? Will there be some fallout? Absolutely, to say that there isn’t going to be fallout would be being naive. So sometimes when you’re listening to the podcast I will say things like, “Here is a way “that you might be able to manipulate the situation.” and then I get messages from people going “Oh you’re manipulative.” No, I’m just saying that there is a part of sales where you need to take a negative and turn it into a positive, that’s what sales is all about is it’s about positioning. So how are you in your organization, or you in your job going to be the one when this whole thing turns around the one that your clients look to that was there during the hard times. That’s what being the hero is all about and we’re gonna talk about how you can position you and your organization as the hero, in the Conquer Local Podcast, coming up next. Well a million different edits, so thanks to T-Bone, our sound engineer and thanks to producer Colleen as we went through this episode and the planning for this episode because you know, it’s a very sensitive situation. We’ve got this downturn, we’ve got people that are hurting and we’re talking about commercial relationships and that is the lifeblood of our economy, let’s face it and what I’m talking about here, is positioning you and your organization for the inevitable bounce and we don’t know how long this downturn is going to be. 

Pep Talk

George: And I want to take you back a number of years. I was thinking about this, we prepped for this episode. I come from a small town in rural Saskatchewan and the lifeblood of that community is farming. We sometimes, as a province, we talk about potash and we talk about oil, but lets face it, it really is farming when you’re from Rosetown, Saskatchewan and I remember I was working at the local radio station and farming wasn’t very good. There was a couple of crashes in the farm economy which was led by lower commodity prices and then you have a couple of crop failures where there was some drought and grasshoppers and things like that and any of you that understand agriculture will know that that’s a recipe for disaster. And I remember there were these farm rallies that were occurring, and working at the local radio station general manager’s like, “Okay George, go down there “and interview all these people at this farm rally.” And it was a tough time, because the farm community was asking the government to help them. The government knew that they needed to help them and I remember at that one rally, you had the premier of our province, standing there in a crowd of 3,000 farmers and that was where the real severity of the situation hit me. And then you’ve got business community that was dealing in that farm economy. And they were hurting because the people that were paying their bills weren’t able to spend money because the farm economy didn’t have those dollars. So we were living in an environment and it’s different than what we’re dealing with today but it also was an economic downturn and we came up with a strategy that we were going to remind people that the local market was good and that we were all right and we’re gonna be okay, and we’re gonna figure out a way through it, and the messaging it was super cheesy now that I look back at it, but it was, “Rosetown, you’re all right “and you’re gonna be okay.” And we built a jingle, and we ran these commercials and we held events where we talked about how great the community was and people had a little bit more time on their hands they didn’t have money, but they had some time on their hands and they were coming out to these events and they were figuring out a way to make it through and that really is what humans are all about is, from the very early days, we figured out a way to make it work. So that’s my pep talk that this is gonna work it’s way through and we always figure out a way to make it work. There’s been all sorts of different downturns. How does it look for you with your customer base when this thing does turn around? How are they going to perceive you? How are they gonna perceive your business? How are they gonna perceive you as a professional? We talk a lot on the Conquer Local Podcast about being the trusted local advisor about bringing value. I think I’ve said more than once, you can’t lie anymore as a salesperson because your prospect does a couple Google searches and realizes that those stats that you gave, or the things you said about your solution, they can figure out that you’re full of it very quickly. 


Where Are You Gonna Be When the Bounce Happens?

George: So what is that perception of you and your organization going to be when the inevitable bounce happens and are they going to remember you? Are you going to be top of mind? And as they remember you, what’s that memory going to be? The person that sent the marketing email that said, “Buy my shit?” Or is it going to be the organization that sent the email that said, “Here are some things that you could do “to help your business during this time. “Here is some information that you could read “or consume to help you learn “about how to run your business.” Maybe not during this time, or maybe just run your business period, because I think when we come out of this, all of the same components about running a business and marketing a business, those are all gonna be there. So how do you position your organization and yourself as the hero? And I don’t mean as a hero, you know, like my favorite hero I’m sure you all know who that is. Tony Stark, Iron Man, saved the world, he’s amazing, but I’m talking about someone that is memorable enough that when it’s all said and done and I now have a budget again to start doing things that the first person I’m gonna think of is Colleen McGrath. That, like how are you gonna do that? And have you even thought about that? 

George: Now I have been talking to a lot of our partners and they are cloud brokers, large and small all over the world that have that great privilege to be able to speak to those folks and I’ve been WhatsApping and phoning and emailing and talking to them. Every single day I try to talk to at least 10 and I’ve been getting a lot of questions. “What are we gonna do? “How are we gonna offer? “Is there any way that we might be able to generate “a sale during this time?” And I’m like, “Okay, we should think about that “because we’ve got businesses to run and bills to pay.” But also I think what we should be thinking about is how can we position ourselves as the person that delivered value during this time and the person that remembered them and the person that asked questions that maybe we might be able to offer an answer for. 

George: Have you ever had somebody that you’ve done business with that reached out and said, “I was thinking of you today “and I read this thing and I just thought “that you would be interested in it”? And that was the entire message. “Hope things are going well for you, “I’ll see you when I see you.” You know, that type of thing is enormously valuable and we talk a lot about delivering that value during the sales process, but what I’m telling you is the customer journey for your SMB or your end user or whoever it is you’re doing business with that customer journey has just gotten a hell of a lot longer right now. They are in tough, and they are trying to figure it out and they got kids to feed and they got staff to pay and they’re trying to figure that piece out. They’ve got maybe materials sitting on the shelf that are gonna rot because they’re not able to move them ’cause there’s nobody walking into their store. So a moment, the first moment is we have to have empathy and we have to understand that we can’t, if you look too commercial in this, this is not gonna work out well for you. I’m just telling you right now. But I do believe that it’s important to add that value and keep yourself top of mind. 

George: So when we talk about this hero thing, I’m not necessarily going as far as what we see in the movies as a hero, but what I am talking about is there are certain things that you can do during this time that when we end and the bounce happens, and there will be a bounce. It’s happened every single time an economic downturn has occurred that you will be the brand and you will be the individual that they think about. That customer base, either an existing customer today or a customer that you like to get. All of those are at your avail to communicate with, with marketing automation or blogging, or on your website, or things like that, I think it’s really important. It was really interesting over the time period as we prepared for this episode, I was getting emails from virtually anyone that I have had a commercial relationship with in the last three years offering some level of advice, or some level of an offer that they’re giving to their customers to, are they helping? Damn rights, they’re helping. 

George: So you know first off, don’t always look negatively and go “Oh that’s all just commercial.” If a business that last year did $2.2 billion in revenue wants to offer you free data for 90 days during a downturn don’t be so bloody negative when you think about “Oh they’re just in it for the dollars.” They did something, they could have just said “Screw you, and I’m not giving you anything.” So first off, I hear a lot of people going “Oh that’s very commercial.” Well, you have to look at your customer base and do what you can do. So maybe in your organization, all you can do is send them some articles that might help them during the time, or sending some things that might help them in their customer journey when this whole thing ends. 


How Are You Offering to Your Customer Base?

George: You may be able to offer something to them that doesn’t have a large cost to you. That then, are we positioning you top of mind? Damn rights, we are, but it has value to that person in the meantime. So don’t, I think you really need to think about this, I think you need to talk to some people, other people in other businesses and say, “Hey I’m thinking of doing this “to the customer base, what do you think of it?” Now that’s interesting, I’m sure there’s a bunch of people listening to the Conquer Local Podcast saying “Wow, George is saying that you should ask “for advice, he’s the guy that just rams stuff through.” Well, I’m learning as I get older it’s a really good idea, especially when you have a customer base that’s across a number of different generations that you maybe ask some people in different age groups as to how they perceive this offer. 

George: I think you should be doing that in your marketing anyways, but I’m saying during this period of time you want to take some sort of action because you need to do something. You need to think about it and everything that I have been reading is we should be doing things like delivering content, and we should be blogging about all of the things that our business is doing and one of the reasons that you want to do that portion, but not salesy, not buy my stuff, just teaching and nurturing, is because, think about it. Your customer base has more time on their bloody hands now than they’ve ever had. They’re not in the store, dusting off their things with the Swiffer. They don’t have to do that right now. They don’t have to manage their staff. They’re doing a little bit of crisis management, but they’re at home, like we are, the listeners to this podcast. I don’t think there’s too many places. My friend Gilsie just told me that they have their first case in Iceland. So everywhere on the planet, people are dealing with this. We got time on our hands. So why don’t we turn it into a positive and do some learning and figure some stuff out. Spend some time with our family, that’d be cool too. 


What YOU Can Do

George: So what we wanted to talk about was, number one, there are things that you can do. They aren’t too far off of the things that you do to move people through the customer journey in the world that we live in today. A digitally transformed world, you need to be giving that value through content and positioning yourself as the trusted local expert. But I also think that we can’t just put our head in the sand during this thing and hope that our businesses are going to be okay on the other side. I think that it’s time for and Tony Robbins calls it massive action. Well maybe not massive action, but at least do something. At least do something to keep your brand and your business and yourself top of mind with the group of businesses that you’ve dealt with. If you truly are a trusted expert, and you truly bring value to that customer set, they’ll want to consume the things that you send to them. I think that you should be a little sensitive as to what you send, and make sure that you get it vetted out by a number of people and say, “Hey I’m thinking about doing” Hey hell, send it to me, and I’ll run it by three different people. One person who’s 25, and one person who’s 35, and then an old codger like me. But sitting there and saying, “Well I’m just not gonna do anything. “This is horrible, it’s all gonna go away. “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” That is just not a good place to be. 

George: It’s even hard to go for a walk in a park right now to clear your mind, so I am saying to you in this time, take some massive action and do something. Our goal for you as a sales professional and for your organization is to have you continue to look like the trusted local expert, or hero as we talked about at the beginning of the broadcast. I don’t know next week if we will continue to teach around this subject or not. It’s a moving target, and we’ve told our guests that we have lined up over the next couple of months that we may push out the schedule a little bit, because we’re waiting to hear your feedback. 

George: So this episode and last week’s episode may be little bit controversial. I don’t know, we’re trying to figure this out on our end and we’d like to hear from you, the listeners. One of the reasons that Conquer Local has become as popular of a podcast, I believe is that we’ve always listened to the people that support us and listen to the broadcast and I had a lot of individuals that I trust and respect in this space say you need to do something for the salesperson. You need to do something for the smaller organizations. Hell, you need to do something for the larger organizations and I’ve talked to a number of people and I’ve asked for their feedback and I know in my gut a couple of things having been through this a few times. There’s been numerous downturns in the economy. 

George: I don’t care what we’re talking about, whether it’s 2008, it’s H1N1, it’s SARS, it’s local things because there’s been the thing I talked about off the top. That economic downturn was a farm thing and it wasn’t everywhere, it was in a very small geographical area around a little community of 2,500 people, but these things happen all the time. The advice that I have for you, having been through this a few times and having talked to a few mentors that I trust, they’re saying the worst thing that you can do right now is nothing. You need to do something and the good news is the technology that is at your avail today to be able to do a screen share and to get your customer on a screen share and say, “Hey I just wanted to check in with you “and see how things are going. “I read this thing the other day.” or “I’m going to send you a video, but I care “and I want to know if there’s anything “that I can do to help.”



George: Here is where this is gonna go bad for certain organizations. The organization that says, “I don’t want to talk “to my customers, ’cause they might cancel.” And I just don’t think that works out in the end day. I think that if you are out front of it and you talk to that customer base and especially if you have the cadence of going to talk to a customer every month or you get ’em on a call every month to discuss the business and you don’t do it this month. I don’t know, every fiber in my being tells me that is ostrich. You’re sticking your head in the sand, hoping that it’ll go away. I think that you need to be available for your customer base now more than ever. 

George: And then keep in mind that the people that will be your customer one day down the road, because I know that you’re always accepting new business. If you continue to deliver value to those folks using some sort of product-led growth initiative like we talked about last week on the broadcast or by sending out content, or blogs. All the things that you’ve been doing beforehand, but maybe not with the call to action saying, “Spend $99.99” I think that would position you very well when this all turns around and we get to the bounce where people go back to business. So keep that in mind and if you think that this is controversial or you’d like to correct me on some of the things that we’ve talked about today, by all means, I have all sorts of time on my hands and I love to read your comments. Reach out on LinkedIn, it’s George Leith. L-E-I-T-H and I would love to hear from you. I’ll see you when I see you.