Recently I promoted a conference because I liked the producer’s industry experience and what I heard him say. Furthermore, experts I know and trust recommended him. But from the start, the event was chaotic.
I have 30+ years in sales and marketing, mostly in management, including six years owning a small business. Additionally I directed numerous seminars. I know that life happens. People who put on events or own small businesses need courage because they will deal with crises.
This summit reminded me of lessons that apply to managers in small businesses. Interestingly, despite the frustrations participants had, most still benefited. They made the connections they wanted and learned from the speakers.
Three Key Lessons to Turn Crisis into Opportunity
– Confirm your “product” delivers as promised
– Sales skills and management ability differ
– Communication eliminates fear of the unknown
Confirm Your “Product” Delivers as Promised
I used to think people who were honest and authentic would do what they said. At this event, I discovered someone can be completely trustworthy and well-intentioned yet fail to live up to my expectations. It’s even possible for him to not be aware that he failed to deliver what he promised.
Had I applied the lessons I learned about hiring, i.e. to check applicants’ references before employing them, I might have avoided apologizing later for the chaos. Nevertheless, I realized during this event that the leader is like a ship captain during a major storm. He must appear as calm as possible. By example, he or she will inspire the crew with a feeling of direction and confidence that they will survive the madness of the storm.
Sales Skills and Management Ability Differ
I found from experience and reading that selling and managing are two different skills. Interestingly, it’s rare for a superior salesperson to be a great manager too.
This is why I advised a couple clients to hire a general manager for their small business. They excelled as salespeople. Unfortunately, they hated managing.
Communication Eliminates Fear of the Unknown
Communication was the other major breakdown. People hate the unknown. They will put up with much if you let them know what is happening and if they feel that you are trying to fix the situation.
Apologize for the chaos. Inform them what you are doing even if you don’t yet have the answer. Keep them updated. And, be sure to appreciate their patience and understanding.
At some point in your small business career, life will happen thereby putting you into a crisis. How you handle the situation determines whether you win the loyalty of your customers or whether you see demands for refunds. Minimize problems by first confirming your products deliver. Hire managers to manage and focus salespeople on selling. Third, communicate with team members and customers about what you are doing to correct the situation. Although crises are nerve wracking, they can be an opportunity to strengthen your connections.
More from this contributor:
First Person: 3 Areas to Improve Communications in Sales and Management
First Person: How Information Overload Impacts Small Business Management
First Person: Stress Management for Small Business Owners