Now, more than ever, we have to maximize our sales costs and efforts by doing everything we can to land the sales opportunities we get. Believe it or not, most sales people today are insufficiently trained to do so. It’s not enough to merely know your market, your product and services, and a few sales techniques. Before I will call a salesperson “highly trained”, they have to be able to read the personality style of the potential customer within the first minute of meeting them. Yes,this is possible! Learning how to read and react to the psychology of the sale is the most important training a sales person can have to be highly effective in any economic climate.
While the prices of some goods and services are lower than we’ve seen them in a long time, don’t let it fool you. Doing business in today’s economy is more expensive and more treacherous than this country has seen in decades.
So what is a business to do? What most businesses are doing is the basic act of reducing overhead and the cost of goods and services. They are operating leaner and asking their people to do more with less. And, because of the high unemployment figures, most of America’s workers are working harder this year for less money.
But this kind of leaner, meaner approach to today’s economic conditions is not going to be enough. “Doing more better” will only allow you the right to keep struggling. The fact is, you can only cut so much and people can only become so productive. So what’s a business to do?
Recent headlines have shown us that really tough economic times are an equal opportunity event, with the propensity to take out the 800-pound gorilla almost as easily as it can the fairly younger or smaller companies. In fact, sometimes the bigger and more evolved companies have a harder time making the necessary changes in time that would allow them to survive and evolve through the crisis themselves. The good news is that the Seven Missing Links that ensure successful corporate evolution (see my last blog) can be applied by any size organization. It is critical, however, that the evolution or crisis plan is understood and embraced by those who will have to implement it.
While all of the missing links rely on people to make changes and transition, it should be noted that the last link is far from being considered the least link, and should not be underestimated:
Company Evolution, or Stagnation?
“Most businesses get to the top, and stay there, because of their ability to anticipate and respond to change.”
More than half of today’s successful Fortune 500 companies were started during a bear market or a recession, according to a report released by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. No matter when or how your organization started, this study suggests that opportunity indeed exists in difficult economic times, and your organization’s ability to respond to challenging market conditions is paramount to your longevity and success.
When business climates change radically companies can’t afford to merely “redouble their efforts” or “try to do more with less” (two sayings I hear way too often). Radical changes in markets require that companies learn to evolve. Organizations that fail to evolve eventually die out.
What do businesses need to do in order to evolve and survive radical change? Why do some survive and even thrive in tough economic times while others die off?
I have the opportunity to talk with dozens of company and organizational leaders every week. Lately I’ve been noticing a theme of denial that I haven’t seen the likes of before. People are tending to tout and rely on strengths that no longer serve them like they used to as they completely underestimate the costs of their weaknesses.
“Individually and organizationally, we know the value of our strengths much more than we know the costs of our weaknesses.” — Joe Caruso
If the world economic crisis is negatively affecting you and/or your business, I have some advice for you…stop worrying about it. There’s next to nothing you can do to fix it, and worrying about it certainly isn’t going to help anything. If you really want to help yourself and your business, there’s another crisis you should be focusing on. It’s one that nobody is talking about and yet nearly everyone is suffering from. It’s also a crisis that you can actually do something about–and by doing so–you can help yourself fare better in these challenging economic times. Believe it or not, it’s called an Identity Crisis.
ECONOMIC CRISIS, OR IDENTITY CRISIS, IN BUSINESSES?
What does an identity crisis have to do with you, especially during these turbulent economic times? Let’s start by shedding some light on what an identity crisis actually is. Erik Erikson, the ground-breaking developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst, said that people experience an identity crisis when they lose “a sense of personal sameness and historical continuity”. Further, only those who fully address this crisis and find a way to see themselves differently and in a way that is more congruent with the new and different world they find themselves in will survive and thrive.
In just a few days, this nation will celebrate one of our most sacred commercial holidays, Mother’s Day. The media will carry millions of odes, tributes and dedications that will reach nearly every living American in some form or another. More phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than on any other day of the year.
Millions of Americans will reflect on one of the most special, unique relationships of their lives; that between a mother and a child. We will spend at least a part of our day thinking about the institution of motherhood and all it stands for. Some of us will have had or still have a personal relationship with our mothers that validates and edifies all of the good feelings and thoughts that the word “Mom” can invoke. Yet for millions of Americans, Mother’s Day will feel quite different. While they’ll still be thinking of their mother, for them it will be less a day of honor and gratitude and more a day of reckoning. Those millions of odes, tributes and dedications will serve as sour reminders that amplify the bitterness and ache of a sacred promise that was never kept.
In my work with individuals and organizations, I focus on people’s “stories.” I call them their “myths.” Many people who study my work are at first put off by my use of the word myth and suggest that I use a different word. They feel that the word myth implies that the story is less than true, and therefore, somehow less than valid.
I suggest, however, that the very essence of my success in helping organizations and individuals make positive, drastic and lasting change is because I understand that their stories or their “myths” represent great truths to those who believe in them. If someone asked you, “What’s your story?” isn’t that another way of asking, “Who are you, why are you here, and why do you do what you do?”
Many business owners tell me that the biggest challenge they face is a “leadership vacuum” within their organizations. They usually identify the following problems at two different levels within the organization:
- Their senior level managers, while competent overall, are lacking skills in one ore more critical areas: knowledge of the business, capacity to lead, or ability to create and/or implement vision and directives.
- The mid-level managers perform their duties quite adequately, but fail to demonstrate consistent capacities to think strategically, and then communicate those strategic decisions with others.
While it’s true that “you can’t send ducks to eagle school,” it has been my experience that more often than not, the managers that lack a few critical skills can be developed into fine organizational leaders and strategic thinkers. However, the solution isn’t as easy as having them sit through a training course on strategic thinking or leadership. The real solution consists of changing the driving myths of the culture in which these managers operate.
A reader from Indiana recently wrote,
“Dear Joe, I know I could be a better mother and a better friend if I could improve the way I communicate. My problem is I don’t want to change into somebody I’m not. How can I stay sincere to myself and change at the same time.” — Susan V.
This is a very good question and one that most people aren’t willing to acknowledge. It is one of the biggest challenges that keeps most individuals and organizations from making true transformation. While they may sincerely desire to make fundamental changes, they have a greater psychological desire not to change anything by which they define themselves.