Three words of advice to small business owners navigating the COVID-19 crisis in Northern Indiana

Input Fort Wayne is launching a weekly blog series by local small business owners as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. This is Week One of Jim Wilcox's blog.

Jim Wilcox here. I’m the owner of the Sandler Performance Center in Fort Wayne and South Bend. We are a training and consulting company that works primarily with small- to medium-sized businesses in Northern Indiana, offering the leadership development and sales management training in the time-tested Sandler method.

Our focus is on eliminating business blind spots and helping companies and individuals use their strategy, structure, staff, and skills to achieve their next level of success. 

At our Sandler Performance Centers in Northern Indiana, we serve businesses and individuals in three key areas: Sales Process & Methodology, Management and Leadership Development, and Organizational Excellence.

Since our work is critical for small businesses right now, COVID has had a relatively limited fiscal impact on us so far. We are blessed in that we are viewed as essential by our clients from a training, coaching, and consulting perspective. But we are definitely feeling this pandemic’s effects in other ways.

Since we first opened our doors in 2014, we expanded to two locations with a total of five employees, including myself. Our biggest challenge right now is not being together physically as a team and with our clients—since we are built mainly on the notion of live, “in-person” training on a reinforcement basis.

Despite this, we are finding creative, new ways to deliver value and train our clients to think ahead of their competition, so they are well-positioned to come out of this pandemic on a strong trajectory. After all, we are all about selling, managing, and leading through the good times and adversity alike. If we cannot do it on our own as an organization, then how can we teach it to others?

When COVID-19 first hit, our team made three rapid decisions:

  1. Move everything to virtual. About half of our private training is virtual, so this was a relatively easy shift.
  2. Pay it forward to our clients and others by over-serving them in every way that we can.
  3. Double down on our daily behaviors while working from home, which means:
    1. Maintain a daily routine. (We started a 7 a.m. team call as part of this.)
    2. Engage at a higher frequency in dialogue with prospective clients in an empathetic manner.
    3. Reach out to current clients to assess their position and their needs not just once, but with frequency as we go through this.

I believe these swift changes have helped us adapt and serve our clients well so far.

Thankfully, we were well prepared and equipped to work from home so that we could continue to deliver high-quality training and consulting services to our clients virtually.

My advice to business owners navigating this crisis would be to monitor and examine three key areas of which we have total control.

  1. Your attitude. Ask yourself: What is the attitude or mindset of my people and myself?  Mindset is always key, but especially important during difficult times. We should monitor our mindsets closely and frequently during this pandemic, which changes day-by-day.
  2. Your behavior. Set a routine, and track what you and your people are doing. Then measure the results.  Are these behaviors producing the desired outcome? If not, rework your behaviors until they do.
  3. Your technique. Use this time to augment your current skills, learn new skills, and practice what you do until it’s second nature. This will only help you in the future, no matter what happens

Attitudes, behaviors, and techniques are fundamental principles of the Sandler Training.

In fact, we refer to these three as the “Success Triangle.” Being on top of this trifecta can help us ensure we’re achieving measures of success regardless of what obstacles we’re facing.

This blog is part of an ongoing, weekly series in Input Fort Wayne, following local small business owners as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. To see Jim's next blog, subscribe to our free weekly email newsletter, or check inputfortwayne.com next week.

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