Seven skills and qualities that every leader should have to survive a crisis.
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Hello and welcome to JP Moery’s Association Hustle Podcast. President of The Moery Company, JP’s mission is to arm today’s associations with insight and strategy to thrive and a progressively complex and competitive business landscape. 21st century associations must move forward with a little bit of hustle and revenue development at their core.
I have spent some time over the last several weeks reflecting over leadership qualities and skills needed to survive the unprecedented time for our business. Here are some of the things that I have learned that have helped us survive – and in some ways flourish – during the pandemic.
Go where the money is
The first and most important thing that we, as a business, do was go where the money was. One of those things included the PPP loan. There was a moment in February and March when there was no money in association sales, membership, and sponsorship. Everyone locked down. Where was the money? The money was with the government. We as a business, felt like, “Hey, this is what it’s for, let’s go for it!” We spent a lot of time and effort trying to secure the additional funds and it really helped us navigate towards future.
Long standing virtual workplace
We have had a virtual workplace for years. When the pandemic hit – and we had to shut down the office – our work was not disrupted. We measure work based on what we do, not where we’re at. So, while people were struggling with making the switch, we were already set up for it.
Diversified revenue streams
It is important to have diversified revenue streams, but without losing focus. If you have been listening to the podcast for a while, you know that we do association sales in membership, advertising, sponsorships, and exhibits. All of that work over the years has also allow us to develop about 40% of our revenue to come from consulting in those same areas including value proposition, dues levels, membership categories, sponsorship pricing and inventory. Our ability to have the consulting work and the sales work in the same areas of expertise is really important because, in some cases, the sales were really dried up, especially in sponsorship. Membership sales activity stayed pretty consistent. If we didn’t have multiple streams, we would have had a big problem.
The consulting and sales work is different in terms of the revenue stream, however, we remained focused on organizational growth.
Know your strengths
What are you best at? What is your core competency? To us, it is important to us to know how to describe our value to our prospects. We had a pull to get into meeting management and we’ve lost business because we’ve been focused on our core competencies and not on being an all-inclusive consulting operation. I never thought that we would be the best at meeting management, expositions, or trade shows. I know that we’re the best when it comes to membership development, strategies, and sales for trade associations. What stopped be from expanding our portfolio was the Jack Welch theory: if you’re not number one or two at something, get out of it.
Get paid for your work
There are a lot of sales groups in the association space and others in the advertising space that will do sales and business development for commission only. We get paid commission and we also get paid to pick up the phone, craft email campaigns, host webinars for non-members, sift through crappy old prospect lists, track everything in Salesforce, and do sales development campaigns for our clients. We get paid a retainer to do that in addition to commission.
We know that we’re not the cheapest group in town. We lose sales because some think they can get it for commission only. However, if during the pandemic we were commission only shop, we would be out of business. For my friends in the association space who think that they’re getting a deal because they pay internal, or external, sales teams commission only: you’re not getting their best work. Believe me, you’re not because they’re going to do just the easy stuff. And we know that there’s no such thing as the “easy stuff” now, for sure.
Create a crisis plan
I set up a crisis plan in late March with a set of criteria for when to pull which lever. If scenario A happens, I’m going to pull these levers. If we hit the lowest point, then it’s over and we’ll need to pull up stakes and try to do something else to survive. I create the plan in the early stages of the pandemic and it gave me comfort knowing I could get through anything. I was more proactive about it.
Everybody’s got a strategy until you get hit in the mouth. I felt like I put a strategy together before I got hit in the mouth and it helped me know how to respond when I do get hit in the mouth.
There are many more survival skills that a business leader and organization should have in their toolbox, however, these are the ones that came to me this immediately – things that helped us survive and thrive this year. We’re going to be up this year, somewhere between 5-10%, depending how the last few days go and I’m counting my blessings these last few days of 2020. We’ve had a lot of great partners that have stuck with us and I appreciate them. It’s a knife fight every day and this year was the most difficult one since I started this business. Having said all of that, we can still pay people and we’re still delivering the very best value to our clients. We had to get better at all of this because we had no other choice.
Hey, I would love to send you a complimentary copy of my book, Association Hustle. Send me an email to JP@MoeryCompany.com or by filling out the form here. Thanks for listening. Talk to you next week.
We hope you enjoyed this edition of JP Moery’s Association Hustle Podcast. We’d love to connect with you. Check out our blog at moerycompany.com and subscribe to our weekly newsletter. You can also connect with JP on LinkedIn and Twitter at @JPMoery, as well as The Moery’s Company’s Instagram and Facebook page. To purchase a copy of JP’s book, Association Hustle: Top Strategies for Association Growth, go to JPMoery.com.
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