VUCA: “Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous” Source: Army War College Strategic Leadership Primer, 1st edition.
Considering the many adaptations that we have had to make in order to continue serving our clients (which in turn means adapting to their equally changing demands) it is important that we re-evaluate the characteristics and aptitudes that sales professional will need to acquire in order to create a competitive advantage in the current VUCA environment.
Like many, the HVAC industry is quickly assuming an hourglass shape in which highly specialized and highly profitable organizations are on top and commoditized low-profit businesses are at the bottom. The complexity in both circumstances requires a non-transactional leader who is capable of leveraging organization resources and smart collaboration in order to secure more and better business. They will need to exemplify their organizational values at the highest level. They will need to learn to collaborate–effectively working in teams that better meet the complexity of their clients’ needs. Perhaps most importantly, sales leaders must be able to “think, act, and influence in ways that promote the stability of the organization.”
The Army War College Strategic Leadership Primer 3rd edition defines it as follows:
“On a holistic level, this interpretation of environmental scanning in a VUCA world ought to lead to the creation of a vision that is aligned with the best estimate of the future environment. The organization’s vision represents an idealized representation of what the organization should strive to become. The subsequently developed strategy, however, should explicitly align ends (objectives), ways (concepts and methods), and means (resources) to ensure that the organization’s resources are committed in a manner that allow the organization to succeed in its current and future environments–in short–to enact vision. Strategic leaders must therefore ensure that they align the vision with their interpretation of the changing environment, and that the organization’s strategy is aligned with this vision. Similarly, the structure, culture, personnel policies and technology also need to be aligned with the vision and strategy in order to achieve the vision and maintain competitive advantage.”
Notice the emphasis on alignment and resource allocation. Sales people must understand that the complexity facing our clients has reached a point that individual–no matter how hard working–is capable of accommodating.
By now we all know that at some level our jobs have been immutably changed. How significant this change will be remains to be seen but it’s greater than simply conducting meetings remotely. The speed at which people and organizations have adapted in inspiring and encouraging. This forced evolution casts a fresh light on topics that have not been scrutinized for a long time–including those of a durable sales professional.
At Frosty Freeze Air Conditioning we believe that our customers’ safety and well being is our number one priority. Therefore we have implemented the following best practices in order to ensure the highest level of protection. Beginning immediately:
Every member of our team will take a temperature reading before coming to work. Thermometer readings will be updated daily and posted on our website in the “About Us” section.
Team members will be issued clean uniforms prior to shift. Uniforms will have been disinfected with anti-bacterial fabric spray and are returned at the end of each day for additional cleaning.
Team members will be issues chlorhexidine gluconate soap and required to wash their hands according to AMA guidelines.
Tyvek protective suiting will be issued to all field team members who are required to wear them while on-site.
Industrial grade nitrite gloves will be worn during the entire service, maintenance, or installation process.
Our staff will wear N95 masks. In order to prevent interference on the phone we have adopted AI voice assistants to meet our customer service needs.
Team members have been given Sani-Cloth germicidal wipes. Field team members will be required to use these wipes and to provide homeowners with post-cleaning results using Control 3 test strips indicating that disinfectant rates are at surgical levels.
Cavicide surface disinfectants will be used to clean surfaces in our customers’ homes.
Field team members will use CIDEX OPA disinfectants on all equipment, controls, duct work, and in-home surfaces.
Field team members will utilize Lavex trash bins that are solely dedicated to containing all installation related debris. Bins are fogged on a daily basis.
Thermostats will include disposable screen covers.
Field team members will be given sealed vegetarian meal kits, including disposable utensils. These meal kits will be delivered via drone.
Following an installation or service appointment homeowners will be given the option to receive a complimentary disinfectant fogging procedure in their home.
Personal temperature readings will be taken at the end of every shift. These readings will be updated on our web site.
Our team members will be administered COVID-19 health screenings on a monthly basis. These screenings will be held as Facebook Live events.
Thank you, we look forward to earning your trust and business.
I recorded this conversation last week after a couple of days of feeling really low. Eric brought perspective and insights that were spot on. Leadership, management, motivation, overcoming fear, and focusing on the things that actually matter. The introduction is completely off script but it’s where my headspace was at the time. Take care of yourself and your tribe. Be safe.
I’ve spent hours and hours this week on Zoom, WebX, FaceTime, Skype. I’ve also had to learn how to use Adobe, update my website, start a Facebook page, manage on-line payment applications, distribution lists, edit podcasts and video, build newsletters and host on-line chats. Every one of these rogue waves has either exposed a blind spot in my ham handed strategy or reminded me of the blessed importance of good friends.
If we want our companies to grow older we are going to have to get younger. More flexible. More open minded and adaptable. Joyful to learn. Happy to be alive and with the people I love more than anything in the world.
I’m excited about going backwards and I hope you are too.
Elaine Damschen and her husband Todd own Mainstream Electric, Heating, Cooling & Plumbing in Spokane Valley, WA. In this podcast Elaine shares her beliefs and best practices regarding leadership, networks, her influences, and ways that she stays positive during times like these. I was again reminded that collaboration is the best strategy and that positive people sharing positive energy lift everyone up.
If you would like to learn more from Elaine her email address is email@example.com.
Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Tom Wittman. Tom offers a balanced perspective on virtual selling platforms, tried and true selling tactics, and the evolution of sales. Tom’s recommendations are just what we need while the service industry adapts to life during social distancing. Enjoy the podcast, stay safe. #flattenthecurve
Matt Tyner is the Marketing Manger for an HVAC company that employs 400+ people and that services a multi-state area. He is accountable for the digital strategy, budget, implementation, and results. Prior to his current role he designed and managed digital campaigns for boutique level clients. The things that matter most to me is that Matt is a smart, no-bullshit guy who pays attention to the trends but is never distracted by “shiny new toy” syndrome. I hope that you’ll find his recommendations applicable.
I interviewed Justin Riley in 2018 when his on-line/e-commerce platform was hitting a stride. Since then it’s grown exponentially in both scale and profitability. While many contractors are limited by social distancing Justin’s technology provides limitless sales and service opportunities. This is a fantastic podcast for any business owner who is tired of cancelled service and sales appointments and is ready to shake off the traditional constraints associated with in-home selling.
Thank you for listening. I appreciate your support. We’re in this together. Flatten the curve.
Let’s assume that you spend your time on three separate types of activities with three corresponding outputs.
Activity/Output #1: Low leverage, low output. These activities include disseminating information, updating clients on topics that may or may not improve their output (trip points!), and content that can be emailed, downloaded, or included in a newsletter.
Activity/Output #2: Medium leverage, medium output. These activities include some type of standard training or motivation, although the uniqueness is questionable because your competition has their version of the same message.
Activity/Output #3: High leverage, high output. These activities are highly customized around your customer, reflect their aspirations, and are scarce. As such they help you differentiate your services and force your competitors to play catch-up. These activities create positive leverage that allows you to increase the clients’ output.
Take a look at your calendar from last week. Classify your activities based on the descriptions provided above. Where did you spend most of your time? Where should you have spent more of your time? What types of activities will you reduce? What things will you say “No” to a lot more this week than last?
Remember, everything you do with your time should improve your clients’ production. Have a great week, Matt.
You have to distinguish between activity and output. As a salesperson your activities do not always improve output. Some activities actually impede your output. Spending time with low output/low loyalty clients, clients who ask you to give 100% of your effort without reciprocity, or simply disseminating information are bad time management decisions. Every hour of your day should be spent improving your leverage in order to improve your output. That is the essence of a salesperson’s job. So take a look at your calendar. Is it optimized for output or are you just filling in the blanks to stay busy?