What Snowstorms Can Teach Salespeople
Ask the tens of thousands of travelers who were stranded in airports and train stations last December if snowstorms are fun, and you’ll get a resounding “NO!” But every cloud – even a storm cloud – has a silver lining. Here are just a few of the lessons salespeople can learn from last month’s worldwide transportation gridlock:
Expect delays. Snow in the winter – who would have thought! Well, according to Answerbag.com, the United States experiences an average of 11 blizzards a year, so December’s storm shouldn’t have been any big surprise. Likewise, salespeople should expect slowdowns and avoid underestimating project timelines only to have to adjust later. By building in padding, whether in your travel time or sales cycle, you’ll keep your cool when delays do occur.
Have a backup plan. The travelers most able to adapt to the changing weather and reach their destinations were those who quickly moved to their Plan B, whether that plan was renting a car, changing tickets, or rerouting their trip. Savvy sales reps have multiple avenues to a single destination, as well; if you’re not making headway toward finding a contact at a potential customer, try another route.
Unplug. Winter weather often brings severe power outages. A December 2008 ice storm left more than 1 million people in New England without electricity for days. Wise folk stoked the fireplace and huddled around the hearth with friends and family, using the time to reconnect instead of vegging in front of Dancing with the Stars. The lesson for salespeople: Gadgets alone do not a business make. Real relationships come from shared experiences and conversations, and that means person-to-person – not BlackBerry-to-BlackBerry – communication.
Know when to back off. Many stranded travelers chose to extend their vacation and spent the extra time enjoying the slopes or the swimming pool, instead of camping at the airport and annoying the gate agent every five minutes. Salespeople take note: Sometimes stepping back is more productive than continuing to push. No answer on your proposal the first three times you call? Wait a week or two before checking back in. In the interim, move other projects forward. You might find that by taking a break, the situation loosens up.
While no one wants to be snowed in – except maybe lovebirds and seven-year-olds – there are ways to make the time productive. If your business is facing a whiteout of its own, use these tips to make the experience positive instead of positively frustrating.
– Lain Ehmann
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