On the way out the door that morning for work, Mark was excited about the presentation he was to make at noon at the prospect’s office. For the past two months, setting up the meeting with everyone at the prospect’s company had been a major exercise in logistics. People were coming in from everywhere. Yes indeed, thought Mark, head down to the office, print out the final version of the proposal, bind it, get the slides done, a good one. He knew that Mary would help, and while she was doing her thing, he’d get on the phone to those five leads.
As he walked in, he knew something was wrong. Folks were just standing around. Mary even had her feet up on the desk.
“What’s this,” he asked to no one in particular, “casual day at the office?”
Greg looked up. “Well, Mark, bad news and bad news”
“Say what?” responded Mark.
“Computer system went south during the night. Took out most of what’s been input the past week. Earliest it will be back is tomorrow afternoon. Hope you have what you need already printed out for your big one.”
“You’re not serious,” said a worried Mark. “I’m screwed with it.” He felt the panic growing inside.
“Look on the bright side,” said Mary, “at least you didn’t have any orders pending. Hope you printed out those leads from yesterday. It’s all gone.”
Mark is dead in the water. His new leads are not going to hear from him today. His important presentation is not going to be made because the computer system that contains everything he needs is dead in the water. Do you think his prospect is going to want to hear how the company’s computer system is down?
It is Mark’s fault, not the computer system’s fault, that he will not be making the presentation nor contacting his new leads. Mark had a responsibility to plan ahead. He didn’t.
And what do you think is going through Mark’s prospect’s mind when he calls to cancel?
Gee, if the proposal can’t be delivered because of a downed computer system, just what is going to happen to any orders I place? Don’t they have a plan in place for things like this?
A fair question. Mark can back pedal all he wants, but the end results are no presentation and the raising of ugly questions in the prospect’s mind.
Would you like to be Mark’s competition for as long as it takes to get the computer system back up?
You have to analyze what could go wrong and set up a plan to take care of negative consequences. You probably have seen the TV commercial where the company’s 800 order number went on the blink and it wasn’t fixed for a day or two. They had no plan to deal with the situation. What was the result?
Deciding what needs a fall-back plan is simple. What tasks do you do during the day that require you to do more than breathe? Most of us have to commute. If your car breaks, do you have a plan in place to rent one? From whom? What are their requirements? A few simple phone calls, made today, can take care of making this plan. You may never need to rent one, but if you do. . . .
If the electric power goes out, do you have any sort of battery that would allow you to continue critical tasks? Do you have printouts?
Is your phone system dependent on electrical power or can you continue to use it during a power failure? Most office phone systems need the electric company. What will you do if they can’t supply power?
List the tasks you normally do during the day and list what tools you depend on to accomplish those tasks. Now plan an alternative when the dependable things aren’t working. It’s only a matter of time until they don’t.
The only things you have to lose by not doing this are money and your reputation. Are they important to you?
Remember Smokey the Bear? “Only you can prevent forest fires.”