“Dear prospect, I just wanted to let you know I’m thinking of you.”

You’ve only just met once at a conference. A follow-up meeting was going to get scheduled. Then COVID-19 hit. How to follow up with that lead? Sitting in your guest room turned home office, you draft an e-mail. You’ve thought about their business and craft a custom description of your value proposition. You want to add a word of kindness, of showing that you care. You delete it. You delete the whole e-mail. Why would they care about what you’re selling right now? Surely they have other priorities.

In talking with some business owners and commercial leaders over the past weeks, it’s becoming clear that we’re feeling a bit uncertain. Some of us focus on existing customers or on customers who are ‘less affected.’ Some look within our portfolio of products and services and tout its value in the current crisis. We revert to safety. However, we feel it’s not right to be ‘selling’. Most of your leads and prospects are busy homeschooling kids, just like you. Some have been furloughed. They’re concerned with the health of their family and friends, and with the potential implications of this crisis on their financial security. They’re in the same situation.

Now more than ever, consider that ‘Eighty Percent of Success is Just Showing Up.’  To show leadership in times of crisis, look for ways to do that. Just show up. If you have ever been ‘stuck in a bad situation with strangers’, you’ll know that a common threat builds relationships. A conversation about how this crisis is impacting your life and your business can be uncommonly candid and bonding. So pick up the phone, or join that Zoom meeting and turn on that camera.

And if you have anything to offer, no matter how small, bring it without strings attached. It may cost you little but could build a fortune in goodwill. We’ve all heard of companies shifting to making face masks and shields. But everyone can help others in small ways. My consulting company offered a free spreadsheet to help with PPP loan forgiveness calculations and loan applications to anyone – for free (of course). Steelcase offers professional pictures of its collection as a custom background for video conferencing tools, so nobody has to see your basement. Join the helpers. Your prospects and your leads will come to you when this crisis is over.

Authored by: Marcel van der Elst, Senior Director

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