The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will not be like that of a hurricane that causes great destruction, then ends, and repairs begin.  The effect will be much longer and farther reaching, and the recovery continuous. There has been and will continue to be much change.

One thing you know is your customers are experiencing stress. Business stress comes from fast growth, insufficient business, and uncertainty.  Everyone is facing one or more today, including you and your customers.  Everyone is looking for solutions.

And you, if you are not involved in conversations with your customers, the following things are true.

  1. Your customers consider you a vendor, not a strategic partner. As much as we like to believe we have deep relationships with our customers, problem-solving requires getting all vested parties together. If you are not part of these conversations, you are only a vendor. There is an adage in sales if you are not hearing from your customers, someone else is.
  2. You treat all of your customers the same (or they believe so). Fair, but not smart. You treat your best customers in the same manner you treat your worse. And vice versa. Procedures like this may be efficient, but they don’t grow relationships. After all, “best customer” is a status each of them can earn. Everyone in your company should know who your top customers are and what they require to keep them that way.
  3. You will be unprepared to impress your customers with your response to the upcoming shifts in their business. If their business is growing, you won’t be ready for the increased volume. If their business is shrinking, your customer may open the door to your competitors, seeking a better deal.  If they are simply struggling, you won’t know how to offer ways you can make their life more comfortable that are non-price oriented. There are many like shorter order times, flexible financing, access to information, consignment inventory, long-term agreements, etc. When you are the incumbent, customers know how you work with them, but tend to discount your ability to do things another way.

Don’t just think you know what is going on with your key customers.  Know.

And don’t delegate this process to your sales team. Your sales team already has an existing relationship, process, and outcome with the customer. Sales.  Nothing wrong with this, but the expected normal agenda is hard to overcome.  The best time to establish a deeper connection is when neither party wants anything from each other than to understand more deeply.  Those relationships pay dividends, especially at times like these.

Got questions?  Want to talk?  Set up a time for a Zoom session here.






“Make your product easier to buy than your competition,

or you will find your customers buying from them, not you.”

  • Mark Cuban


Leave a Comment