What do I do next in the World we do not know ?

What do I do next in the World we do not know ?

24th April 2020

You will see from my LinkedIn profile, I am a seasoned Sales Professional who has worked with hundreds if not thousands of companies and organisations around the world in a career spanning several decades.

During my career, change has been a constant. I learnt early on in my first foray into sales despite common perceptions about the world of sales, that as a creative person who enjoys taking on challenges to help my clients find viable and effective solutions to fix problems and improve outcomes, salespeople are and can be positive agents of change. With this back-drop over countless engagements with a wide variety of clients covering both Commercial and Public Sector markets, I thought I had seen it all. Now I sit on the edge of a world we do not know.

A key defining and consistent aspect of the way I have conducted business has involved building Trust and maintaining integrity by meeting people face to face often over a period of time, to help establish that important physical connectivity that we all thrive on. These important interchanges have happened in a variety of places and locations but what has been a regular part of this activity has been the fact that mostly people have been travelling to physically meet each other in the workplace.

The experiences formed from meeting people in person has been invaluable over the years. That experience along with the benefit of learning from visiting new surroundings and widening my understanding on how the world works has also been invaluable in helping me in business and life in general.

My early foray into sales was all about physically meeting people in their workplace and establishing relationships that would hopefully prove viable for all parties involved. As social animals, this approach has until now stood the test of time.

Now as a result of the pandemic and the impact it has had on my established and successful way of working, I am continually looking to adjust to the current situation and maintain an air of positive outcomes in what has been in living memory by far the World’s most impacting agent for change both in social, political and economic terms. Over the past few weeks as I have had an unexpected gift of more time to ponder and witness the chaos unfold, my over-riding question that occupies me is “What is Next?”

What do I mean by “what is next?” It relates to my deep uncertainty about the change impacting all known business and social structures around me . It includes having to wait for my clients to themselves see the “fog clearing” as they too adjust to the reality of their new world with the changes being unleashed and from a purely selfish perspective, for them to be able to release funds for the supply chain again whilst the clients wrestle with the challenges they are also facing during the past weeks. Meantime any dialogue with clients what this new world change indeed means for their own businesses future and the uncertainty they are facing both with regards to their own clients has been not unnaturally challenging as they too do not have the answers that I seek in terms of my own business interests.

What has starkly struck me as I seek to adjust to the new world we are in, is that quite possibly the way I have worked with clients, colleagues and partners for several decades, has possibly gone for ever. Whilst it has become the ‘norm’ to enthuse about the so called new found joys of WFH by many of those doing it for the first time, having been a Home or Remote Worker for the best part of 20 + years, it seems to me to be somewhat over-blown and losing sight of the connectivity and close engagement that we have all too often taken for granted when we were more physically interacting with each in business along the more established lines. The way that I and many people do business is the connection and benefit we gain from meeting people face to face in a variety of ways. With the mass move through necessity of many workers now likely Home Working permanently, a question I have also been asking myself is how does this ‘old dog’ adapt my existing skills and learn new tricks so as to remain viable and productive into the emerging new world that we do not know?

How will I now meet those prospective new clients I aspire to do business with or indeed find those suppliers and partners who I want to develop and build meaningful relationships with? Will business life now consist entirely of conducting endless Video and Telephone Conference meetings as well as email conversations ? How will I prospect and meet new contacts? Will it all become too task orientated or will we still have the ability to enjoy ourselves and whistle whilst we work? Yes, you can organise a late end of day “Beer O’Clock” session with your clients on a video conference if that works for them and you, but is that really the way that new business relationships can be forged and how many “Beer O’Clocks” can the average sales person manage in a week without resorting to dangerous levels of drinking too often and too much? How to earn and gain Trust to even have the clients want to have a beer and share small talk in the first instance?

In my experience building Trust is not an art form. Trust has to be earned not bought and often takes many meetings over a period of time on all levels, for people to decide they are comfortable committing themselves to trusting people. People form relationships away from the workplace by meeting each other often over a period of time to establish trust and connectivity.

Technology has done and will increasingly form a key part of that process of maintaining relationships without regular physical connectivity as we move increasingly to a digitised environment. Technology is indeed a great enabler and will always be a change actor whether we like it or not, but do we lose our humane touch and all that defines us as a race, along the way?

All my current thinking is now about post virus. What are the new paradigms we are all going to have to address in the long term against the backdrops we are all seeing and being affected by?

Michael Hoddy
Written by Michael Hoddy - Guest Blogger from The Technium Global Limited
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