It started when my mom slipped last week and broke some bones in her shoulder. Ouch! So now I’m getting on a plane to Atlanta.
Whenever I travel somewhere, I naturally think of the business prospects I could visit as part of my trip, so I started making a mental list of client contacts in Atlanta…
That’s when COVID hit me (again) – there ARE no clients for me to meet with in Atlanta… or anywhere!
Oh yeah, that thinking is SO 2019. We don’t meet WITH people anymore.
The virtual world is the real one
In the old world (a.k.a. last year), we used to make a distinction between the “real world” and the new, emerging virtual or online or digital world. Now that difference has not only faded, it’s reversed! I have MORE opportunity to meet with an East coast client virtually from the West coast than I do being ON the East coast. The virtual world is now the “real” one.
Time zones are the new geography
My daughter recently left her tiny, expensive apartment in San Francisco to attend a friend’s wedding in Denver. Her only concern was the one-hour difference between her location in the mountain time zone and her company in the Pacific time zone.
Recognizing that she could work remotely from Denver just as well as from an apartment in San Francisco, she decided to extend her trip for three months as she continued to work “remotely”. WFH is really WFA(nywhere).
In the COVID world, the world is better described in terms of 24 time zones than as 195 countries on 7 continents. In this way, Germany is “closer” to Algeria than the UK, because they are on the same CEST time zone, but the UK is on GMT.
So aren’t we making too much of a temporary disruption? Won’t things be getting back to “normal” again soon, and all this hyperbolic talk about change will appear overblown and silly?
Good question. But the latest thinking about the pandemic seems to indicate that we won’t see any meaningful change in our current situation until next summer.
In a webinar, I recently participated in a poll of sales and marketing leaders about their perceptions of when life will be back to “normal” (whatever that means). The unscientific consensus was that we (in the US at least) will not be out of these woods until next summer as well.
The Pandemic Relationship Effect
Why does this timeline matter? Because we are being “retrained” to rethink our understanding of proximity and relationships that have been hard-wired into our brains for the last several millennia.
Even if the world returns to exactly where it was again next year (which it won’t) – we will have been trained by the prior 1 ½ years to think and act differently by then.
According to recent brain research, humans form a new habit in 18 to 254 days and an average of 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic, so our “new reality” will be thoroughly baked into our brains by then. Either way, the pandemic relationship effect is much longer.
So what does this mean?
To start, it means that every B2B relationship is subject to change… including complete erasure and redefinition. Customers and companies that have co-existed for decades because of their unstated but assumed proximity will find themselves further apart literally and figuratively.
Conversely, companies that prior to the pandemic would not have known of each other are now potential customers… or competitors. The promise of the World Wide Web has now been replicated in human relationships… they can happen anywhere,
Questions for you to ask
All these changes don’t happen without disrupting how and if B2B prospects buy. To add value to their companies today, B2B marketing leaders need to know:
- How has the new definition of business proximity changed notions of “local business” and “trading areas” for you?
- How has ‘time zone proximity’ expanded your market size and definition?
- How has this changed why you lose deals? How can you win them again?
- How has your customer’s view of competitive alternatives expanded? What does that mean for your positioning and GTM strategy?
How you can learn more & move ahead
We will be continuing this series on the new (COVID-shaped) rules of B2B sales & marketing over the coming weeks. Please contact us with your thoughts and questions at the address below.