Small business owners are looking to ease out of lock down and start to broadcast to the world that they are still in business. Many believe that they can communicate with their immediate contacts and their wider world solely using social media and emails. Having been out of the office and working from home, some of my clients are still hiding behind their screens. They believe that they can isolate themselves to sending out various messages and then the world will come back to them. Emails and social media platforms have their place but right now there is no real substitute for the phone. When I challenge clients on this, the common responses I get are: ‘ I dont want to disturb them…’; ‘they wont want to talk to me…’; ‘ I don’t like the phone…’ ; ‘ they don’t pick up…’. etc. etc. So , how do you get to know them? How do you find out what their problems are? What are you really afraid of? There 3 good reasons you should pick up the phone.
Reason 1: You should talk to your employees
You know them well, after all you employed them, but you cannot assume that they feel alright just because they are now based at home. As an employer, it is your duty to ensure that they are OK, both from a personal perspective as well as a work perspective. Do not ignore them if they have been furloughed, in fact it is probably more important to keep them informed and interested so that they are fully motivated when they return. Your employees all want to feel that you care for them and their families – its been a tough time. See our earlier article: leadership in turbulent times
Reason 2: You need to re-assess customers and suppliers
As the Lockdown is easing and businesses are looking to get back to some sense of normality, it is important to continue to keep in touch with your business contacts (customers and supplier), not only, to let them know that you are still in business, but also reassess them in terms of risk to you as a business. Are they still going to be around in 3 months? If so, how are they doing? if not, what impact is that going to have on you? Losing a large customer or a key supplier can have a disastrous impact on your business, especially as lockdown eases. Make an assessment and put plans in place to mitigate the risk. The earlier you can do this the more time you have to make contingencies.
Reason 3: You have to get more customers on board
The saying ‘people buy from people’, is particularly apt in this context. Uncertainty in the market has severely disrupted the sales pipelines coming into small businesses. Using social media to show that you have solutions to their problems and that you are an expert in your field is great. It can also help to create a pool of prospects. However, converting a prospect to a customer is so much easier if you invest time in them, understand their problem and speak to them. As we are still under lock down restrictions: pick up the phone and talk to them.
There are various ways to keep in touch with people in business, however, emails and social media have little or no sentiment are a one-way broadcast communication – that is assuming that they get to their desired destination.
Do not hide behind Social Media and emails, use the 3 reasons you should pick up the phone. Don’t be reserved and ‘British’, let people know that you are alive, that you have energy, you are interested in them, and above all, that you care.