Friday, August 28, 2020
Christopher Lyon’s business is named after the French word for sunflower: Tournesol.
Sunflowers are known for turning to the sun, and Lyon has done a lot of turning of his own to keep one of the top commercial site furnishings businesses in the U.S. running during COVID.
“It’s been one pivot after another, almost every day,” says the owner and president of the Union City, California-based company for the past 25 years.
“One of the things we were best known for was having an awesome sales team that got out to travel into peoples’ offices, meeting with them, reviewing plans and talking about solutions. That suddenly is gone.”
So his sales team adapts to the “new normal” of virtual calls and presentations by re-thinking their roles with clients. They can’t travel, so they are working more like “trusted advisors” to customers and prospects.
“It becomes a very different selling prospect that we are only starting to figure out.” Lyon says. “How do I change what I’m doing every day? How do I present myself differently? How do I make sure that I’m engaging my customers in a virtual world the same as I would if I were walking into their offices? How do I get their attention in a world where everything is coming at them from a screen?”
Lyon is also leveraging technology to foster community and help manage the upsurge of email in a world where everyone is remote. Moving to a popular social platform has helped centralize communications and made it easier for his teams to connect and stay up on company news. Collaboration software and virtual meetings have also been useful, although he points out that when you have more than a handful of people on a video call it gets hard for individuals to connect.
“We’re looking forward to getting back into our offices and have that physical interaction,” he says. “Being face-to-face is so important for the team.
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