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Tinderbox Top Tips

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#5 You don’t need B2B Customers… You need to build partnerships

All good salespeople routinely think about what their customer needs from them and align their services and products. With the world rapidly changing to cope with the coronavirus measures, it is even more important than ever to switch your mindset from thinking about ‘Customers’ to building ‘long term strategic Partnerships’. Rather than focusing on what your business needs from your customers, think about what your partners need and what you and your organisation can do to support them and the challenges that they are facing.

Right now, just like in your own business they will be rapidly making changes to their model, feeling anxious about how this will impact them financially while adapting to working from home.

Our top tip is: Do not presume to know what they are facing… Pick up the phone or video call them!

Show empathy and concern for them as individuals as well as for their business. Share your own experiences and reassure them that you are prepared to do whatever you can to help. Be upbeat and positive, while remaining realistic.

Explain clearly what steps you are taking to safeguard the supply of the products and services that you provide, and demonstrate your partnership credentials by asking:

  1. What specific challenges are they facing?
  2. What advice or assistance are you able to provide?
  3. What adjustments can you make to ease the pressure on their business?
  4. What changes would be beneficial to the products and services you provide?
  5. What else can you do to support?

Take careful note of their responses and put together plans and adjustments that will make a meaningful difference to your partners. Follow up promptly to confirm the changes and actions that you have taken and check in regularly for further opportunities to support.

So what will you sales partner see? A proactive supplier‐partner that cares and is willing to go above and beyond what would normally be expected.

By resetting this relationship to this new partnership level, you will prosper in the long term, and have a partner that will be more willing to support any changes that you need from them.

Their loyalty to your business will be immense, making it inconceivable for them to consider switching to a competitor in the future.

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#4 Consider the Effect of a Change in Workplace on Your Employees

Many workers will be experiencing a strange situation, in terms of where they are being asked to function, for the first time in their careers. Management need to consider carefully the physical, mental and emotional effects on these individuals. Over frequency of contact in the early stages is a really good idea to ensure that all is well. Make the contacts positive and start with praise or good news.

One to one remote contact is essential to allow the individual to feel comfortable about any personal concerns. Now’s the time to take a ‘work in your employees shoes’ and see the world as they might see it. It will make you a better Manager in the future ‐ so start in these tough times.

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#3 Crisis Communication: What do you need to do and how should you react?

Hopefully you’ll have a Crisis Communication plan and a Business Continuity plan in place within your organisation, although it would be entirely understandable if the contingencies included don’t cover the current situation.

Within any such plan should be a Stakeholder Map so you’re clear who you need to contact and when in the event of a crisis. Now is the time to be dusting those off, and if you don’t have one, create one. Without a map or plan then somewhere along the line you’ll forget a stakeholder group that is important.

As an organisation you have to be proactive, and have a clear understanding of the impact and effect will be of what you’re saying on those receiving your messages.

Communications should be as regular as necessary, unambiguous and, where necessary, soothing and thoughtful. Here is some advice for three key stakeholder groups.

Customers:

This isn’t the time for bravado. If you’re 100% confident in being able to provide your product or service, then that’s great, let people know you’re open for business and they’ll be delighted.

But if there are any doubts at all (do you know you won’t be shut down by this time next week?) then be as up‐front as you can. Customers will forgive you right now more than at any other time in your history, as long as you tell them clearly and don’t raise their hopes when you can’t guarantee delivery.

If you’re expecting disruption to your service, be honest and let them know as early as possible. If you can include a solution for existing orders or subscriptions in terms of refunds or delaying payment/future promises, then all the better for them. Be open and helpful and try to find solutions that fit with what your customer is thinking.

Employees:

Their prevalent feelings will be fear, uncertainty, concern and a million other negative worries. Their Health, Safety and Welfare MUST be your number one concern at all times, especially right now.

Of course you have a business to run and you need people to do that, but you have to understand they’re probably a little fearful about even going to work, which is highly unusual.

They will be thinking of what they’d do if they or their family got sick, or how they’ll juggle finances and commitments if their children’s school or nursery shuts, or what they’d do in the future if the business struggles or folds.

You should update regularly and clearly each time there’s something to say. Fall into line with Government advice and consider the effect of every word. If you can find alternate solutions to standard working practices that help protect their health or minimise risk on their future employment, then consider all ideas.

Suppliers:

As well as most of the above, many of your suppliers will be relying on your business staying open and operational for themselves to be able to do so, so don’t forget them in any communications. Be clear so that they can plan themselves and understand what might be around the corner.

For all of the above, and for any other stakeholders such as holding group boards and any associates, try to work out the best plan for your business. Although it’s hard with an ever‐changing landscape, try to plan ’What If’ scenarios fully and what that might mean to everyone, and be clear that the situation is changing on a daily basis.

Everyone you encounter and need to communicate to will appreciate honesty and timely communications in these testing times.

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#2 Working From Home

People who aren’t used to it can find this challenging from both a work and personal mental health point of view.

Five Top Tips:

  1. Test and make sure you can access all systems and online folders remotely, so you can work seamlessly.
  2. Establish a routine. ‘Go to work’ properly by getting dressed and ready as usual, and if possible find a room or space in your home that’s away from the main living areas.
  3. Have daily calls or video meetings set up with your teams or associates to keep regular contact with the outside world.
  4. Take regular breaks. Don’t under‐estimate the value of the chats you have around the office and the time spent making a coffee and moving from your desk usually.
  5. If possible get some fresh air each day. Establish a routine where you get outside and get some exercise for half an hour each day.

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#1 Focus On Cash. Cash is King

Profits can usually bear a relatively medium-term hit as long as you don’t run out of actual money to pay the bills.

Stop spending any cash you don’t need to immediately, not when you eventually start to find things are tight ‐ by then it might be too late. Don’t completely stop everything, but be certain you need to spend what you’re spending.

Gather in as much cash as you can from customers and any other sources you have available as quickly as possible. Find ways to sell your stock more quickly, look at your services and consider short-term discounts for immediate projects if you can resource it. Think about how you can offer your products and services to new markets via new channels if that’s appropriate?

Look ahead to your medium‐term forecasts and try to work out what revenue might not be coming in and what impact that will have.

Chase your debtors. Get extensions on paying what you owe if you can do so without that company suffering in turn.

Focus on cash and build up your defence shields as best possible.

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Get In Touch

If you think your business could benefit from a 1 hr, no obligation call with us to discuss any coming challenges, contact us at:

david.t@tinderboxbusinessdevelopment.co.uk

07747 023610

David Turner

Managing Director

 

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