Quick, Look Busy... Here Comes the Boss

Last Updated Aug 7, 2009 6:35 AM EDT

There is a wonderful, happy coincidence coming to a head in the world of business. In a recession, staff try to look busy in the interests of self-preservation.

That is very convenient for the business leaders because, in a recession, companies tend to overburden staff and trim the fat if they see people who aren't breaking a sweat.

So, all good so far as long as 'looking busy', rather than strategically growing your business, is your prime objective.

The organisation I work for sells professional services, to a fairly niche market. In a recession of course we have to work harder to sell these services, which means different things to different people, even within the same organisation.

  • Mindset One. Pick up the phone and if you used to make 20 calls per week, now you need to make 200. Ask if they're buying, if they're not, hang up and call the next one. Blanket bomb enough people and for every 500 you call, one or two might agree to meet for a coffee or come in to hear a little about us. Be warned -- very few, if any, will buy big ticket professional services based on this approach, but you will look busy to the boss.
  • Mindset Two. Pick up the phone and call a smaller number of carefully selected targets where you have recognised a potential need. Take time, if they are willing, to learn more about them and what they need. Suggest a meeting to discuss in more detail. Meet them over lunch and eventually get to a point where you can offer services based on need and genuine knowledge of their business. Cultivate 10 leads like this and one or two may convert to real contracts, thus meeting the business growth objective.
Be warned the second approach requires calm and collected minds and a confident approach which doesn't benefit from sounding flustered or panicked. It is therefore not good if you are trying to fulfil on the 'looking busy' objective.

It's not up to me to tell anybody which approach is the best. But for the record, it's the second one.

(Pic: g-hat cc2.0)