The COVID-19 Pandemic and

Business Development

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

9 July 2020

One of the last debilitating pandemics in the United States occurred 102 years ago – The Pandemic Influenza of 1918. I’m sure there are some folks alive who survived it; however, I’m not sure many of them have the wherewithal to discuss their business experiences during that time. Even if they did, sales cycles and sales patterns have since changed. The Pandemic Influenza lasted for over a year. It killed approximately 675,000 in the U. S. and 50 million worldwide. It had a large impact on society, our way of life, and our businesses.

I’ll Stop When It’s Over

When the COVID-19 Pandemic started to take hold in the U.S., I began drinking more regularly. I’m not proud of the behavior, but it was the coping mechanism I selected. While talking to a friend one day, I remember saying, “I’ll stop when the Pandemic is over.” (I figured that would be sooner, rather than later.) But as the days turned into weeks, and the weeks into months, I realized I had to take matters into my own hands. Enough was enough. I put myself on an adult-beverage hiatus and worked through my feelings of isolation, fear, anxiety, and loss of control.

“In order to move on, you must understand why you felt what you did and why you no longer need to feel it.” ― Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

After working through some difficult feelings, I was able to see the forest for the trees. I accepted that we were going to be isolated. I accepted that I was scared, and being scared was okay in such an uncertain climate. I let go of the anxiety because I allowed myself to feel it and realized I could mitigate some risks but couldn’t control the future. And most important, I relinquished the need for control.

I’ll Start When It’s Over

When the COVID-19 Pandemic started to take hold in the U.S., we began scaling back on our sales efforts. In other words, we halted them altogether. We felt it was the wrong time to seek new business when some businesses were having a hard time staying afloat. We felt it was irresponsible to focus on new business when there were so many unknowns. But why did we feel that way? More pertinent now, is it time to realize we no longer need to feel that way?

If the last Influenza Pandemic lasted over a year and COVID-19 follows suit, can we afford to keep our sales efforts halted for that long? I’m not merely talking about financially —how about creatively? How about mentally? While we adore our current clients and their brands (we did create or re-stage them), there’s also an element of energy that radiates through us when a new client comes on board. And it’s invigorating for the whole consortium.

Should we start again when it’s over? Or should we try to understand why we felt this way and why we no longer need to?


What do you think?