Last week was tough. It’s hard to see people you love, who run great businesses, face down seemingly insurmountable challenges. It’s a brutal time for many of our clients.

But this current situation is also full of potential. I’ve run dozens of IDS sessions in the last few weeks. What I’ve consistently seen is that the intense constraints of this moment are forcing companies to shift their status quo way of thinking. They’re boxed in by so many factors–and their solutions have never been more effective, efficient, or creative.

Today I want to share a case study from one of my own businesses–Collegiate Entrepreneurs. It’s a company run by college students who are paying their way through school by painting houses during the summer. Their sales strategy up until this point? Cold-calling, door-to-door. Not exactly quarantine-friendly. 

The deck is stacked against Collegiate right now–but I fully believe that the strategies we’ve come up with are going to make us a better company long-term. Here’s how we’re adapting our sales strategy to the current reality.

Use the COVID-19 Response Playbook. The nature of Collegiate is such that many aspects of the “defense” section don’t really apply. So we’re focusing on the offense and opportunities sections of the playbook instead.

Assess the market needs and your resources. The good news is that the market for our services still exists! In fact, Collegiate thrives in a slower economy because our services are more affordable. Sales season is in the spring, but work doesn’t happen until the summer, and we’re hopeful that we’ll be executing projects with no problem by then.

We also have resources available in our business. Without school and cold-calling, our branch managers have plenty of free time to execute alternate strategies. Which brings us to…

Generate as many ideas on potential opportunities as possible. We’ve been gaming out different scenarios for several weeks now. What if we can flyer drop instead of cold call? What if we can’t flyer drop at all (current reality for our MA team right now)? As a result, we’ve had time to work out the kinks in things like our virtual estimate process. 

We’ve also had lots of team brainstorms to come up with a multichannel marketing strategy. Much of it is online, an area Collegiate hasn’t really explored before now. Assuming it’s successful, we’ll have another way to reach people and sell our services moving forward. And some of our “new” ideas are really old ideas that were still effective even though we weren’t using them anymore (telemarketing makes a triumphant return!).

Choose opportunities to pursue and structure into shorter rocks, scorecard items, or sprints. Don’t just talk and do nothing. All meetings end with clear next steps. Everybody owns something, and everything is owned by somebody. Accountability and execution are critical right now. And productivity is up–projects that would normally be marathons are suddenly being completed as sprints.

Communicate often, even if just to say “I don’t know what’s happening.” Hands down the single best thing to come out of this situation. Our team is closer than ever. I’m giving “state of the company” speeches on a weekly basis. We are getting more (virtual) face-to-face time than we do under normal conditions. The feeling of being in this business together is so important to our collective mindset.

I wanted to feature Collegiate because I am so damn proud of what these kids are doing. They are facing the toughest economy in 70+ years. They are starting a business for the very first time. And they are 100% dedicated to succeeding in spite of all this adversity.

As always, please keep reaching out if there’s anything more we can do to help.

–Eric Crews
Founder & President
Crews Consulting Group

If you’d like to learn more about Collegiate Entrepreneurs, you can visit their website. If you’re interested in a free estimate, reach out to Sam Leask at samuel.leask@collegiate-entrepreneurs.com.


For more help navigating the coronavirus outbreak, visit our resource and information center.

Skimmed it? Here’s the recap:

–If your business is facing adversity, take action outside the status quo
–Use the COVID-19 Response Playbook to assess your company’s strategy
–Revisit old tactics that may have worked well in the past
–Leading and connecting with our team is crucial