Don’t worry this is not an economic treatise about the definitions and causes of economic downturns sometimes called recessions. Rather, it is an explanation of how we can think about these events differently, and, when these circumstances surround us, how we can improve our results regardless of what the media tells us.
While regional, national or global level economic indicators can show that an economy is slowing down, that people are losing their jobs and the like, I believe that for individuals, a recession is little more than a change in circumstances that we can choose to participate in . . . or not. I would argue that recessions don’t even exist for us as individuals, unless we allow them to.
Recessions and Our Response
First, if you are reading this and have lost your job or are facing significant changes in your situation due to the events being labeled “recession”, please don’t get angry with my comments, but continue reading with an open mind. Use these ideas to be proactive in dealing with the opportunity you are now facing.
The media and/or politicians may say we are in a recession. And yet, businesses are still buying products and services (though perhaps a bit less than ‘normal’) and businesses are still hiring employees and moving forward.
The key for you and your business is to be the one who gets a larger percentage of the orders or the interviews or job offers that are available. In this proactive way you can choose to recognize that recessions are macro not micro events. You have a choice about how you will view the event the media calls “recession.”
What I’m saying is that times might be a little tougher and that it might not be as easy as it used to be (or will be again), but so what? You can succeed through a better plan and a bit of persistence. When things are a little tougher, it simply separates out those who are prepared to work harder and more creatively.
Our Best Response
After you have readjusted your views on what a recession is, and how you can most proactively view those circumstances, your next actions should be focused on the source of your income and profits: Your Customers.
You may call them something else: Clients, Patients, Students, Participants, Users, or Participants. Or you may be thinking, “Kevin I work inside the organization, I don’t deal with our paying Customers.” That’s fine, you still have Customers. Other departments, the people who you give your work to, the people who give you work, all of these people are your internal Customers. (If you “only” have internal Customers, read on, apply the points and wait for a special message for you before I close.)
Whatever you call them and whoever they are, your Customers are your personal recession buster – but only if you focus on them more completely, deeply and consistently than ever. Think about it this way – your Customers are the source of all revenue for your organization; your Customers write your paycheck. It makes sense to build and deepen your relationships with them always, but that is never more true than in times where they are buying less and probably distracted by the economy themselves.
Your Customers are looking for new solutions. Your Customers want help. Your Customers need you.
Here are five ways you can focus on deepening your relationships with your Customers, starting right now.
Get in touch. Stop by, make a call, send a handwritten note, send an email (in that order of priority – the further up this list the more valuable the contact will be). Let them know you care, take the effort to be connected.
Stay in touch. Don’t make this contact a one-time event but part of an ongoing process of staying in touch, connected and at the top of the mind for your Customer.
Ask how you can help them. No strings and no qualifiers. Do you appreciate it when someone offers to help you with something? So will your Customers, even if they don’t take you up on the offer.
Educate them. Send an article, share an idea. After you know how you can help or what their challenges are, it will be easier to determine the best things to share based on their interests and needs.
Focus on serving not selling. People buy from those they like, trust and respect. Sales will come. Focus on the person, building the relationship and serving them.
These are just five ideas – you probably can come up with fifty-five more. Your challenge is to find ways to be relevant, helpful and available to your Customers.
A Final Thought
Before I close, I promised those with internal Customers a final thought. If you will do the things above, you will help your internal Customer better serve the paying Customer. When you sparkle in these efforts, they may even get ideas from your actions to apply with their Customers.
Regardless of where you sit in the organization you can have a direct impact on business success by your actions. Focus those actions on improving relationships with your Customers, whoever they are.
Potential Pointer: Recessions can be damaging events to you and your business, or they can be a perfect reminder and stimulus to improve your results by deepening and broadening your relationships with your Customers. When you make the right choices and take the right actions in building Customer relationships you will thrive in any economic situation.