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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the Sales Game Changers Panel Webinar hosted by Fred Diamond, Host of the Sales Game Changers Podcast, on April 1, 2020. It featured sales leaders Eric Trexler (Forcepoint), Jennifer Ives (3Pillar Global) and Matt McDarby (Fidelus).]
EPISODE 222: Sales Game Changers Learning Event: Sales Transformation and Success During COVID-19 featuring Jennifer Ives, Matt McDarby and Eric Trexler
MAJOR TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Be incredibly empathetic to the challenges that they might have on their plate today, those challenges are going to be different from 8 weeks ago and be very aware of it. Do not waste your customer’s time, understand where they’re coming from, add value in that conversation.”
Fred Diamond: Today we have three great sales leaders on the panel, Jennifer Ives is with 3Pillar Global, Matt McDarby with Fidelus Technology and Erix Trexler with Forcepoint. What are your top priorities? Jennifer, let’s start with you. What are your top priorities right now as a sales leader?
Jennifer Ives: It’s the health of our own internal teams as well as of our clients. If our team members aren’t being cared for and if they’re not being supported and if they’re not taking care of themselves and their families it’ll translate to our clients. One day this pandemic will end and we’re going to come out of this on the other side and we’ve got to be caring for our teams and our clients along the way. The help, the insights, the knowledge shared now more than ever is important and we’ve got to take time to take care for our teams, they’re on the front line, they’re with our clients every day, they’re under a great deal of stress, the clients are as well as our teams in order to pivot our business in the current environment.
We view this as an opportunity to lean into those conversations with our teams and our clients so I really want to touch on both of those, it really is taking care of your team, taking care of your clients. Give straightforward, simple advice, simple reminders are so powerful, they’re more obvious than you would think. During this time those teams and clients are going to remember you one of two ways, that you were either trying to help or you took a backward posture and weren’t there for them. It’s really about leaning into teams and clients making sure they both have what they need to be successful during these unprecedented times.
Fred Diamond: Eric, how about you?
Eric Trexler: I couldn’t agree any more with Jennifer. Customers and employees. I was reviewing our values the other day and optimism, trustworthiness, commitment to the customer came to mind. We’re spending a lot of time – all of our time, quite frankly – understanding what they need and helping them. Customer priorities are changing right now, I do a lot of DOD and intelligence business internationally and in the US, there’s a lot of fear out there, there’s a lot of uncertainty. We’ve got an aircraft carrier parked off the lawn right now which is basically combat ineffective because of the virus. Understanding what these customers need and responding to it in the way they need, not bothering them when you can’t help. Those are the big ones for me, customers and employees.
Fred Diamond: Matt, you’re in a relatively new role, you’ve been a sales leader before, you’ve been an independent. By the way, Matt is also a twice published author, so it’s good to have you on today’s webinar but how about you? What is your #1 priority right now?
Matt McDarby: It does tie into what Jennifer and Eric have said, it’s keeping the team focused on executing our sales process as effectively as they can in the current environment. If that sounds in any way self-serving or too inwardly focused, the thing I’d have to add is our sales process is a distinctly client-focused process. The entire thing is driven by an understanding of how buyers make decisions and where do we have opportunity to create value for them. At a time like this, because a lot of our clients are ranging from concerned to panicked about the state of our business, we can get pulled into the very same sort of behavior. I think maintaining the rhythm and focus that we have which is very much about executing that sales process with excellence, planning, executing, reviewing some more planning, it’s just maintaining that steady rhythm. That’s really my top priority, it’s very easy for us to lose focus and go off in a direction that we don’t want to head.
Fred Diamond: One of the key words that’s come up a lot over the first week of the transition is empathy, be empathetic to your customers, be empathetic to your partners and we’re going to shift. One of the interesting things is we also did this webinar last week, we had a great panel of three sales VPs and we’re also going to do it again next week and the week after. Things evolve, things change, empathy was a big word but how do you be empathetic and at the same time move business forward? We just ended a quarter yesterday, March 31st, we’re doing today’s podcast April 1st. How do you be empathetic but still moving the business forward? Jennifer, why don’t you get started with that one?
Jennifer Ives: I mentioned before it’s about sharing simple perspectives. Empathetic leadership and empathetic sales, you need to be human with your teams and you need to feel where your clients are and understand from a human perspective and from a business perspective where they are, where’s their pain, their pain may have shifted from the pain they were in 6 months ago to where’s their pain today. You’ve been working with them, they’re your current clients, you know better than anyone what they were experiencing in the past and then where they are today and if not, then it’s really important to be part of those teams, their tiger team almost, and really lean in and help them understand and help guide them through that.
I would say that persistence, persistently check in with both your teams and check in with your clients. We’re hosting lots of conversations with our clients, we want to be sure that we’re offering the simple pieces of advice because many times when you are in a state of crises or you’re in a state of panic, and it really depends on the client, sometimes those simple reminders, simple pieces of advice are really important. The simple advice doesn’t mean that it’s not complex and that’s why they’re having challenges thinking through that. Actively make offerings, don’t just say, “Is there anything I can do to help?” It’s, “Here are the things that I see that you are struggling with, here’s what is going on in the industry, here are the ideas that I have for you” and I think it’s really important to always talk about, “Here are the four things we’re seeing, here are two that apply, how can we help you implement these?”
To be honest, it’s not about growing the business, it’s about supporting them and understanding where they are and making sure that you can add value to those conversations. Again, be proactive, do not wait for the call, call them, it’s empathetic leadership. Call them, hear where they are today, really understand where they are today and make those very specific offerings. It’s really going to be interesting because there’s going to be a before COVID-19 and then after COVID-19. You want to be sure that both your internal teams and from a business perspective the clients that you’re working with, that they don’t sit back at the end and say, “Where were you?” You want to be their first call and if they’re not calling you, you need to call them. You need to help them through this.
Fred Diamond: I want to go back to your employees, to your staff. The first question we asked, all three of you said that your #1 concern is your team so what do you think are the main concerns for your people? I’m curious, how are the younger people handling it? This is the third week that we’re involved with this so the whole newness of working from home and everything with Zoom is kind of worn off at this point a little bit. There’s different challenges, how about your more senior people? I want to pose this question to Matt and Eric. Matt, why don’t you take it first?
Matt McDarby: We happen to be in position to help clients who are dealing with a lot of that remote work, work from home issues because we’re in the remote work collaboration and communication business. The main concern that I have for my team is their ability to respond to clients’ needs. Some of those clients, by the way are literally on the front lines of the health crisis in New York, how do we use the precious little bits of time that we have with our clients to help them? I think Jennifer said it earlier, they are absolutely going to remember what we did for them in this time or what we didn’t so balancing all the demands, servicing immediate needs and being responsive to all of our clients is tough, that’s tough for everybody.
For the younger people on the team, I think we have to remember younger people maybe haven’t been through anything like this before. For those of us who lived through 9-11, super storm Sandy, the global financial crisis, any one of those, we know that we will come out of this, it’s a question of when and how it will be different but we really have to help our younger teammates prepare for when we do because we know it’s going to happen. Keeping them focused on what is it going to take to make sure we come out of this a little bit stronger, a little bit better, a little bit more close with our clients, I think that’s the thing to get them to zero in on, rather than worrying about, “My god, is the sky falling? There’s no precedent for this.” There is, we will get through it.
Fred Diamond: Eric, how about you?
Eric Trexler: When I look at the main concerns of my people, it’s been an interesting three weeks or so. They’re worried about their customers, they’re worried about their health, they’re worried about their family, they’re worried about their jobs. What I’m not saying is they’re not necessarily worried about burning out, we have tons of people that are on Zoom 12, 14 hours a day back to back or go to meeting or whatever it may be, they’re working too much, they’re not exercising. You mentioned younger people, we’ve seen an interesting dynamic that we’ve observed in our business where a lot of our younger employees who traditionally don’t need as much assistance from HR, from the business, they don’t necessarily have parents who are ill, they don’t even have kids in many cases where the kid’s sick and they’re staying home from work, they live in high rise apartments and they’re scared to go outside. They can’t go outside depending on what state they’re in to exercise. They may have a balcony or they may have a room, depending on what city they’re in and the dynamics have really changed on the impact. They’re cooped up.
I’ll tell you, in a conversation with my son Michael who’s 12 today, I said, “Do you miss your friends?” and he goes, “No, I talk to them all the time.” The younger personnel are different in many ways but they’re cooped up and they want to get out so we’re watching that very carefully. We’re mandating breaks, one of the early on observations I made was our executive teams working like crazy right now trying to adjust to our customers and everything. The younger employees, the individual contributors are modeling that and they’re burning out, they don’t want to stop working, they don’t want to plan for breaks because they see their boss is not planning for breaks and they’re scared. That over-communication is really critical, I think as we go forward here a couple weeks in were going to start seeing people who have family illnesses, they have illnesses themselves and we’re going to see the concern change and we need to be available for them and for the business.
Fred Diamond: What are you hearing from your customers? Again, we asked the question in the very beginning, “What level of stress do your customers have?” and 94% of the people on today’s webinar said it’s either somewhat or extreme. Jennifer, tell us the actual conversations you’re hearing from your customers. Are they communicating this stress? Obviously everyone’s going through everything, we’re all going through this in the world unlike some of the previous examples we talked about before. You might not have felt some of the things outside of DC or New York around 9-11 after it happened. What are you hearing from your customers? What are they telling you? Then we’ll get to Matt with this question as well. Jennifer, you go first.
Jennifer Ives: It’s a great question. Our culture is one that both internally and also with our clients, we’re very open, we’re transparent, we have very deep relationships as I think that Matt and Eric do as well. We’re trying to one, as I mentioned before, proactively reach out, not wait for them to call us because if they’re under a great amount of stress and pressure sometimes it’s hard to figure out which way to go, which way is up on that. We’re calling, we’re making proactive calls, I think it’s really important, I believe in that strongly, I recommend it strongly to everyone listening today. Proactively reach out, understand, have those conversations because again, we’re either going to emerge from this with a better relationship or a more disconnected relationship and you want it to be on the better side, you want to be the call that they made to you.
We build digital technology, we build digital software so we’re working with companies that have digital products in the market that are consumer driven so many of our clients are actually doing really well, they are needed right now. Some of them have virtual platforms, some of them are in healthcare IT, the list goes on so they need us because they need to double and triple down on their digital product in the market. We have a few customers who are related to hospitality in some industries that are really hard hit. Those conversations are about how can we keep product going for you and how can we be supportive? How can we strategize with you? How can we offer some of our brains on from conversations, some of our really smart and talented people that maybe you haven’t had contact with before because you haven’t needed them. Putting them on the phone for half an hour and then of course I think everyone probably will touch on this on the call and in future conversations, but what do you do about the contracts and payments especially when you’ve got clients who are really going through major changes in their industry and their industries in particular have been hit hard?
Our conversations are really centered around how can we lean in, whether that company is actually doing better because their technology or their digital product is needed during this crisis or if it’s not needed, how do we lean in and share those ideas and thoughts with them to help them through this? Again, I’ll just repeat: don’t wait to be asked, don’t be generic, be really specific in your offers of help and help them gain clarity whether it’s contracting, whether it’s pricing or whether it’s ‘what do I need to do next’. Be very specific and proactive in those conversations.
Fred Diamond: Thank you. Matt, how about you?
Matt McDarby: Our customers are asking them to help them pivot a bit. We did our jobs really well going into this year, we were clear about what their big strategic initiatives were and what the big issues were in their environments and what they were trying to achieve over the next year or two and lo and behold, three months into the year all of that had to shift. What we’re hearing from some of our clients, and this is true where we have our strongest relationships with people at senior executive levels, is they’re saying, “Look, we clearly have to rethink what our priorities are. Can you help us?” That’s a great conversation to be invited into.
No organization would have that with every client, but they think about the mid-level managers, the director level folks that we work with saying virtually the same thing. “I know what I said I was going to be able to commit to mid-year or later this year, but that has to change.” We have a choice, are we going to try to push them if that change doesn’t suit our own agenda or are we going to stop, listen and try to be in position to offer ideas even if it means we don’t necessarily have a solution then and there because we know that they value those partners who are really focused on helping them achieve whatever outcome they want to achieve? That might mean backing off, that might mean helping them to reprioritize so I think that’s the thing that our customers are looking for from us right now.
Fred Diamond: What would you say the #1 skill you would tell a sales professional who works for you should be. If you had to tell them one, what should they focus on right now, today April 1st, 2:21 Eastern Time? Eric, how about you? What’s the one thing you would tell your people to work on?
Eric Trexler: I think you should know it, I’m not sure about learning it, but I think setting goals. The whole world has changed, come into each day, each week, month, set a goal for that day, set a goal for that week and make sure you’re on it because we’re working a lot. The question is are we working on the right things, are we doing the right thing? That forethought I believe for a sales professional is the most important thing they can bring to the business right now. “This is what I plan to accomplish today” and then evaluating and the end of the day, the end of the week, the end of that month, “Did I accomplish that?” The world as we know it has changed, what we did three months ago is not going to work today, we’ve got to evolve and we have to do it quickly so I think setting goals and holding yourself accountable measuring is probably the one thing I’d recommend.
Fred Diamond: Matt, how about you?
Matt McDarby: This one is universal, I think listening. Really listening, understanding what your clients are saying, why they’re saying it, what do they really mean. I think that’s a skill that all of us, even those of us like many of us on the line here have been selling 10, 15, 20 years, it’s the thing that separates really great sellers, people who execute great sales calls consistently. It’s not about my value statement or the question I plan to ask, it’s “Am I really tuned into the answer? Am I present?” In a time like this it’s especially important, “Am I really hearing what my customer is saying or am I drowning it out because there’s something I’d rather hear?”
Fred Diamond: Jennifer, how about you? What would be the #1 skill you would tell people to work on?
Jennifer Ives: Eric and Matt just hit on two incredibly important skills and I think this makes a nice layer on top of it, get really comfortable at on-camera conversations. That might not be a skill, it’s more of a tactic, it’s more of something very easy to learn. Understand where your computer is, understand where that video camera is, understand what sound is like and isn’t like, understand the bandwidth in your house. I think those are really important tactical pieces not just in sales but everyone really needs to understand over the last couple of months as everything has turned virtual.
Fred Diamond: Jennifer, I have another question. We just got a question that came in from one of our listeners and again, if you’re listening to today’s webinar just submit questions through the panel. This is a great question. People aren’t meeting right now, you’re not going to meet someone for a cup of coffee, how would you approach new partnerships? How would you reach out to someone pretty new that may be ahead on your list that you have no contact with, maybe you’ve seen them on LinkedIn but they’re brand new. Is now the time to reach out to new people to start developing those types of relationships? Matt, I see you shaking your head so I’ll get to you after Jennifer but Jennifer, why don’t you take that?
Jennifer Ives: I say yes. You should be talking, sharing knowledge at all times whether we’re going through COVID-19 or we’re going through virtual meetings instead of in-person meetings. A good sales leader is a good leader as a good leader is a good networker. Continue to build your network, I continue to talk about freely giving your information and your insights and your advice, your thoughts, continue to do so. I would be very careful about how you reach out to new prospective clients at the moment.
One, you want to be really hyper-focused on your current clients and two, if it makes sense to reach out to new, I’m SVP of Global Partnership so my job is to reach out to new all the time and I’m finding that those conversations are very different. Knowing the industry that he or she is focused on, but what I would suggest is really understand what that industry is going through and come to that conversation listening, empathizing with where they might be and I would go in with a warm introduction or leveraging LinkedIn and understanding how you’re connected, why they would want to talk with you at a time of crisis, why is it that they might want to give you 30 minutes of their time even more so than 6 or 8 weeks ago if you were calling into someone new for the first time. I would approach the conversation differently, again, be incredibly empathetic to the challenges that they might have on their plate today, those challenges are going to be different from 8 weeks ago and be very aware of it.
Do not waste their time, understand where they’re coming from, add value in that conversation. These are things I would recommend 8 weeks ago, more so now but understand where they are today.
Fred Diamond: Matt, how about you?
Matt McDarby: That’s good advice from Jennifer. I think the key is it’s tempting but we can’t get into the idea that people don’t want to talk right now. I think about conversations I’m having with colleagues and every one of us has some version of, “You know what? I thought to pick up the phone and call so-and-so, haven’t talked to them in a long time.” I know the question was about new people and that does carry a certain degree of requirement for prep and really being tuned in and trying to understand where this person is coming from, but think about also that next level or next layer of people in your network that you just haven’t engaged with in a while who might legitimately value the call.
This is an unprecedented time, I can’t think of a time when I’ve been secluded in my office by government order and there are a lot of people right now who are looking to stay engaged. Just because they’re prospective buyers doesn’t mean that they’re off-limits, they may very well value the human interaction so I think it’s a really good idea to reach out and let’s face it, the thing that’s still true is people love to chat especially if they can talk about something that’s important to them. Combine that with everything Jennifer said about prep and understanding the market, I just think it’s as good a time as any, maybe a better time, in fact to have that live interaction with people because we need it.
Fred Diamond: Eric, I’m interested in your thoughts on this. Today is April 1st, happy April Fool’s today, everybody. We’re all essentially living through the biggest April Fool’s joke in our history. Prospecting, today’s the first day of the new quarter, I wonder how many companies were paying attention to the fact that it was the end of the quarter yesterday and a lot of companies traditionally do. Are you directing your team to prospect for new business and if so, what are you telling them to do?
Eric Trexler: I am but you have to be very careful here. I fully agree with Jennifer and Matt but you have to be very careful, we’ve seen in the cyber security space a lot of what’s appearing to be profiteering, a lot of people who are out there just trying to take advantage, we’re seeing it from the adversary, we’re seeing it from the companies. We have a very strict policy, anything we’re doing whether it’s sales plays, you name it, has to go through the CEO at this point to ensure that we’re not coming out and looking like we’re taking advantage of that because trust is so valuable to our business.
You’ve got to provide value, if I gave you one word it would be value. If you’re going to talk to a customer or prospect, you better understand what that value proposition is. You’re sharing something somebody else in the industry is doing like them, you’re bringing them something that you perceive to be value. If you’re calling up and saying, “Hey, I don’t know you but how can I help? What can I do for you?” I probably get five of those calls a day, they’re a total turnoff for me, I’ll never do business with that company again unless I don’t recognize that they called me during this time. I need value and I need it now and I think so do our customers.
Fred Diamond: That’s a common theme, of course. There’s a couple common themes that frequently come up on the Sales Game Changers podcast, adding value is by far #1 and #2, Matt brought this up before, is listening. Matt, you spent a lot of your career as a sales trainer working for some very successful sales training companies. Let’s talk about new prospecting right now as well, what is your opinion? Are you directing your people to do new prospecting?
Matt McDarby: I am. We have to do the work now to make sure that we’re in position to grow when we come out of this. We are coming out of this, we can’t simply turn off the pipeline development effort. There’s another way to look at this, we all are probably getting messages in our inbox and in our LinkedIn message stream from people who are hitting us with very much messages entirely about them. Every once in a while they’ll get creative and they’ll start a message with, “These uncertain times” or, “COVID-19” as the subject line and it has absolutely nothing to do with my concerns in this current environment, it’s just a cover for their very seller-centric message.
If we pay attention to their examples it gives us a very clear vision of what not to do and what not to do is approach people with what is clearly a blanket message that is clearly meant to take advantage of a topic and a subject line that everybody is going to automatically pay attention to because COVID-19 is everywhere. Instead, what I’m recommending the team do is we’re taking rightful shots here for lack of a better analogy, we have to reach out to the right targets with messages that are relevant. If they have a tinge of how to address a problem that our customers are dealing with right now and this everybody-working-from-home environment, that’s cool but let’s get to the point really quickly right in the very first sentence, keeping it above the fold, as they used to say or as my old [Inaudible 30:42] would call the KISS principle – Keep It Simple, Stupid. First sentence, you’ve got to be talking about something, that there’s an outcome they can’t achieve or there’s an issue you know is going on in their industry. Say it quickly, do it in a way where you avoid using the ‘I, me, my’ language and you have a shot. If you don’t do that, you’re going to end up in the trash like most of the other prospecting messages that we’re getting today.
Fred Diamond: Once again, if anybody has a question, feel free to submit it to the panel. Right now you know where everybody on your team is, everybody is at home. Maybe they’re going for a walk or something but for the most part we’re getting government mandated orders to stay inside unless it’s essential, so we know where everybody is. Everybody is in their home office or probably looking at a screen so you know where everybody is. I’m curious, let’s start with you, Eric and then Jennifer, I’m interested in your thoughts on this. How often are you now communicating with your team? Do you stop everything at 5:30? I’m just curious, how are you communicating to your team? You know where they are, you know that nobody is on physical sales calls, nobody is going to events, nobody is going to meetings. Let’s start with you, Eric and then Jennifer, take it. How often are you communicating to your team and how?
Eric Trexler: I used to go to the office 4 to 5 days a week. Obviously the method of communication has changed drastically. Fortunately, I have team members across the globe so we’ve always communicated via Zoom and phone, we’re having a lot of Zoom sessions as I’ve mentioned, as we’ve talked about here. The first thing I’m doing is keeping the standard weekly support cast calls, one-on-ones, leadership team calls. What we’ve done after that, though is we’ve added fun, we’ve added happy hours, we’ve added biweekly lunches where we don’t talk business, we just talk about what’s going on. I just got a game psychologists recommended called Table Topics. Stupid topics to start dialogue not work-related to make people feel okay, feel like they’re part of a community. We’re working as much as we used to, maybe a little more, what we don’t have is that water cooler time.
We’re doing Zoom yoga here at Forcepoint, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at noon. We’re doing everything we need to do, I’m doing random check-in calls so I have a contact list of my entire team and I’m just checking in to see how people are going randomly as of my leaders in the business. We’re inviting executive leadership, the CEO is invited into some meetings so that he can be involved, we’re keeping people very up to date, we’re very candid and transparent here on what’s happening, what’s going on with the business because they’re worried, they don’t know what’s happening. They don’t know if they’re going to have a job tomorrow so we’re over-communicating on the state of the business.
We just completed a very good quarter, what we’re doing, we’re asking for help is the final thing. Our business relies on our companies, our people’s abilities to do their jobs effectively and service their customers so we’re asking them for help, too and we’re asking them what they need. We’re doing a lot.
Fred Diamond: Jennifer, I’m curious, is your team’s day ending at 5 o’clock? You know where everybody is, everybody is at home, no one’s traveling, no one’s going to the beach. I’m just curious, has the day expanded? I know a lot of people listening on today’s webinar and obviously the sales leaders we have here, I know it’s not a 9 to 5 job, you all do a lot of hours and a lot of work but I’m just curious because we’re all at our desks in our houses now. Has the day expanded? I’m curious on how you’re managing out there today.
Jennifer Ives: I think this is so important as leaders to make sure you’re checking in with your teams regularly. I do believe the day has expanded and what I’m hearing more and more is that people are sitting in place for 4, 5, 6 hours sometimes not realizing it because they’ve gone from one meeting to another, to another potentially with clients, internal meetings, client, client, client, internal meeting. As leadership at 3Pillar we are proactively reaching out from the CEO founder, David DeWolf all the way through the company to say, “Here’s what my day looks like, this is how I’m making sure that I’m setting boundaries between work and my family.”
This is a unique situation where it’s not just that you’ve chosen to work from home and you’ve got children or others at school or maybe a partner at work, you’re all home together, it’s really important. Again, it goes back to empathetic leadership, understand where your team is at the moment, help them delineate, make those delineations, I was just having a couple of conversations with some team members this morning and sharing how I was now blocking off my lunch time during the day. Also, I’ve learned from other leaders that I’ve reached out to that have been working from home for many years and I’m now blocking out two breaks during the morning and in the afternoon. They’re getting filled in but I’m filling them in, the very least is allowing me. You try to model for your team members what it is that you can do.
We also have team members who have little children and they’re trading with their partner, they’re taking care of the kids in the morning, they’re working in the afternoon and then after children go to bed they’re sending emails at 10 and 11 o’clock at night and they’re doing a piece of their work much later in the evening and sometimes in the middle of the night.
We want to be sure that those folks are being taken care of in that they understand and they have support around the boundaries that you can set. I think it’s really important to set those boundaries. It’s really important as Eric and I think Matt has also mentioned in the conversation as well, it’s really important to bring fun and silly into the conversations. We’re hosting happy hours, we’re hosting lunch roulettes where we sit down and we put our names in a Google doc and at random three people are chosen to have lunch with each other. We’re hosting Netflix movies where you can watch them together, lots of different ways that you can bring some fun back into the virtual but to your very specific question, really important to help your teams understand that it’s alright. You should encourage them messaging you and having those open conversations and they open dialogue with you as to, “Here’s what my day looks like, this is when I need to do this for my family, this is when I can be working, I’m going to be working from 10 to midnight on X, Y, Z project.” That over-communication goes both ways.
Fred Diamond: Tell us something new, one thing each that you all are doing as a response to this. We’ll go from my right to left with Matt then Eric then Jennifer. One thing new that you’re doing.
Matt McDarby: Me first? Boy, we’re doing a lot of things new, let me think about the one. I’m surrounded by people who are experts at using collaboration technology so we get ideas regularly from the team. One of the things that we’re doing new is creating team spaces to share everything from little bits of competitive intel and things that are going into the marketplace to another team space that’s about the very specific situation we’re in right now with COVID-19 and then there’s one that I’m kicking off here shortly. We have a team standout twice weekly, 15, 20 minutes where I’m going to interject a quick challenge for people so we’re using our team space to throw a little fun, creative challenge out to the team that we’re going to talk about live during the next team standout.
Fred Diamond: Eric, how about you?
Eric Trexler: I think I’d like to give my marketing team some props here. We’ve been talking about our customers going through digital transformation. A massive amount of my marketing budget annually goes to shows, the government is big on shows. Obviously the shows aren’t happening, they’re cancelling. My marketing team has done a phenomenal job transitioning to digital from the physical shows that we used to do and they’re even ahead of the budgets, we can’t get our money back until the show actually cancels, there are several hundred thousand dollars ahead on the digital transformation from a customer outreach perspective compared to what we’re getting back from the customers’ shows that are cancelling. We’re expecting to see a lot more customer communication, a lot more contact as we have to pivot, that’s probably the biggest or most significant thing where I’m just seeing leadership from the front from the marketing thing.
Fred Diamond: Jennifer, one thing that’s new that you guys are doing as a response to this.
Jennifer Ives: It’s similar to Eric, we are freely putting information out into the world through live chats. We’ve been hosting many live chats for our clients for those who lean on 3Pillar Global for product information and up to date information. They’re going so well that we will be doing them when everyone gets back to normal, when the uncertainty changes to certainty and we’ll be doing them then as well.
Fred Diamond: From a sales professional perspective, next 7 days, what are going to be the big challenges? Jennifer Ives of 3Pillar Global, what do you think that big challenge is going to be?
Jennifer Ives: I think that as time passes and with the new lockdown orders in place not only here in the DC region but around the world, this is going to start wearing on people and the frustration is going to start to set in so it’s really important to stay creative with our teams about ways to connect as well as ways to stay connected as well as reminders to them about that work-family balance and boundaries. As leaders we need to proactively share and demonstrate those work-family boundaries and continue to support the teams who may be struggling with the family needs and ongoing concerns. Things are changing on an hourly and daily basis so it’s staying true to being transparent, communicating actively with your teams and in your company as leaders and it’s about being empathetic with your teams and what they’re struggling with to deliver to clients. Then that empathy extending to your clients. Fred Diamond: Matt McDarby, how about you?
Matt McDarby: I think helping people to focus on their work in a way that’s healthy right now. Everybody’s gotten some commuting time back, there’s a silver lining to this and the work itself, the work day does create some normalcy even though a lot of us find ourselves working at home 5 days a week when maybe we never do that or we only do that a couple of days a week. Helping people see that the work is still somewhat normal even though the environment has changed and when you get that commuting time back maybe it means looking around my own office, maybe there’s something you can do to reorganize. Maybe there’s that little project that you have the extra hour or if you’re in the DC area, two and a half hours of commute time back to focus on something you just haven’t been able to get to. That’s what I mean by focus on this work environment in a way that’s healthy, the balance is important, you’ve got to get away from this stuff. The final point here is draw the line, if you’re not accustomed to working from home know that when the work is away, it’s away. Don’t keep coming back to it, separate yourself from it because you can develop a very unhealthy balance of the work if you’re not disciplined about drawing hard lines between work and the rest of your life.
Fred Diamond: Eric, why don’t you bring us home? Again, I want to thank Jennifer Ives, Eric Trexler, Matt McDarby. Eric, final thought here. What do you think are going to be the big challenges for the next 7 days from a sales perspective?
Eric Trexler: For me it ties into mindset, you mentioned it here at the end of the show. I think mindset is going to be so critical, going back to what Jennifer talked about, this is a new world. Things are changing, the novelty of it is wearing off, we’re now in solitary as opposed to, “Hey, this is kind of cool, I don’t have to commute to work anymore.” I think we need to focus on action versus activity, I think it’s too easy to get lost in the fact that, “I just worked 12 hours, this was great.” We need to fail fast, we need to look at what’s working, what’s not, we need to be able to evolve very rapidly. The new normal, as I call it, is changing constantly. Understand what that is, work with friends, work with peers, try to figure it out. If you’re experienced you’re changing it up, if you’re new you might have an advantage, you’re learning for the first time and you don’t know what should or shouldn’t work so you might be more creative. I agree fully with Jennifer, the next couple days, the next couple weeks we’re going to settle in and this becomes real for people. We’ve now been at home four weeks and we probably have 6 to 8 more to go. It’s all about mindset.