My article is focused on the ‘coalface’ of a business, namely, new business generation, sales and marketing and is not directed at employees in administration, operations or back-office roles who service existing business and are not developing new pipelines.
Let’s take a look at a list of conventional ways to develop business which are no longer effective or are currently very muted:
+ Face to face presentations
+ Meeting a client for dinner or coffee
Yet, unfortunately, sales or marketing knowledge and expertise has not adapted to a new environment. Corporate gurus or sales managers are still promoting the methods above on the assumption that, post-Covid, things will be as they were before.
Anecdotally, I have seen various business models suffer in the new environment with the marketing of professional services being just one of them. A simple case study being that of your standard unloved U.K. high street face-to-face salesperson (perhaps haranguing passers-by for charity donations or selling them on savings on their electricity bills). This business model is now virtually impossible to implement whilst salespersons are socially distanced or wearing a mask. Events businesses being another example but, equally, professionals such as accountants, lawyers or surveyors who had previously marketed themselves using tactics on the list above are suffering. Many business models have become permanently disrupted or muted to the extent of being unprofitable. In our opinion, many are likely to fail once sales pipelines built up in previous months and years dry up.
On the other hand, online retail has boomed and digital marketing has become more important than ever. This can present huge opportunities for those businesses looking to generate income in new ways in a new business environment…. an environment which has now permanently changed.
Is Face-to-Face Sales Dead?
In a word…no. In my opinion, face-to-face advice, sales and counsel is not dead. Instead we have to see it as evolving.
When was the last time you actually spoke to someone for a purchase ‘face-to-face’? Perhaps, a used or new car salesperson, an estate agent, a professional in the legal or financial field? The list appears to be diminishing over time. In fact, it is likely that you did most of your research online prior to visiting the legal professional or purchasing that house or car so a face-to-face salesperson may have only confirmed or augmented your choice. In our opinion, their role has changed.
How to Adapt?
Do you know what the following terms mean? SEO, PPC or SEM ? Perhaps it is now time to learn about them and the opportunities they provide?
”Charles Darwin also said in On the Origin of the Species that it’s not the strongest or most intelligent of the species that survives but the one that’s most adaptable to change.”
Now is the time to think differently, perhaps in order to survive but also to potentially thrive in a new environment. Here are some examples of adaptability:
+ A seminar becomes a webinar
+ An event becomes an online event
+ A coffee with a client becomes a Zoom call or a meeting on a chat application
‘Disruption’ and the Inevitable Death of Old Ways
The Venture Capital sphere is fond of the term ‘disruption’. Well-resourced teams of analysts in the VC space spend huge amounts of time and money looking for investments in e.g. start-up companies or new technologies. These new technologies, processes or methods, they hope, will be ‘disruptive’ to the old ways of doing things. They hope that their investments will take away market share from the incumbent, their investments will grow rapidly or even that whole new industries will be built.
”Charles Darwin said that the extinction of old forms is the almost inevitable consequence of the production of new forms.”
The question is whether you are positioning yourself on the right side of positive change with regard to developing business or whether you are about to be ‘disrupted’ yourself.
New methods of business development will evolve, however, early adopters will have a head start and large organizations will, by nature, take more time to evolve and adapt meaning that more nimble players can capture new business.
With change comes opportunity and professionals, business owners and investors should position themselves in order to take advantage of it rather than being left behind as one of the inevitable dinosaurs in a graveyard of less adaptable entities.