Finding Sales Opportunities in the Supply Chain of Supply Chains during COVID-19


At Barrett, our goal is to help businesses stay in business and keep people in jobs so we can sell better for a sustainable future.

And right here right now, the world as we know it will most likely seem overwhelming to many of us and for a good reason – the unprecedented health and economic impact of COVID-19.

We are in unchartered territory.

We’d either have to be living under a rock or completely oblivious for this to not have some physical and psychological impact on our wellbeing, employment, livelihood, share portfolios, families and communities. This situation affects us all regardless of status, wealth, gender or nationality.

But all is not lost. As I keep saying we’re all in this together, which means we can all work together to find better ways to navigate our way forward as well. There is always opportunity somewhere, we just need to know where to look.

So Monday 23rd March 2020, Victor Perton, from the Centre for Optimism, Robert Masters and myself created a webinar to help businesses look at how they can develop adaptive business and sales strategies that help them adapt and stay in business during and post COVID-19. We discussed:

How do we keep selling & doing business during COVID-19 lockdown?
Where are the opportunities within the Supply Chain of Supply Chains?
What makes us optimistic about the future?

You can view the whole video here (53 mins)

Or a short version here (18 mins)

Here’s a brief summary

Systems Thinking and the Domino Effect

If we are going to realise opportunity in the time of COVID-19, we need to take a systems thinking approach to business and sales because, now for the first time for many, we are seeing  that we are more and more affected by the interconnectedness of everything.

For instance, the negative impact of the domino effect of industries being slammed shut by the government i.e. tourism and hospitality and the volume of people immediately finding themselves unemployed. Equally the positive domino effect with certain sectors going into overdrive and needing lots more people and resources to keep up with heightened demand.

See below the list of jobs that are going to be in high demand across certain sectors such as health, food production, cleaning, etc.

The Supply Chain of Supply Chains

Supply chains are not linear, instead they are a complex web if interrelated businesses working together. In the video I use the example of an apple getting from the farmer’s orchard to us, the consumer, and everything that goes into making that happen.

As many of us struggle to get our orientation we need to stop, take a step back and look at where there is opportunity:

  • Where are the opportunities within our existing client and prospect base and our normal target markets?

Depending on your answer you may need to go to question 2.

  • Where are the opportunities outside of existing client and prospect base and normal target markets?

If you current market place has dried up it’s worth taking a step back and looking for the industries and sectors that are already in high demand, and will be in the near future. Then look for their supply chains. Each of the links in that supply chain have supply chains underneath.

Ask yourself, which of these links adds more value to the supply chain (instead of just cost)? E.g. intermediary just adds costs; a warehouse that helps with distribution and availability adds value.

Here are 3 questions we need to ask ourselves:

  • Where are these businesses in the supply chain links?
  • Think: Are you one of them or could you become one of them? (Know-how, assets, machinery, ability to adjust)
  • Can you service them? Can you become a resource for them?

It’s not just market segmentation, but a thorough analysis of specific sectors or industries we can work with. See apple to consumer example in the video.

All people and businesses involved are interwoven and connect to infinite other businesses, like a fractal goes deeper and deeper the more you zoom in. And, by the way, in times of distress and extremely high unemployment, we strongly advise against behaving like an arsehole going after opportunities that replace people instead of helping them gain employment. Just saying.

What makes us optimistic?

Despite the toilet paper saga, many people are coming together to help each other in many, many, ways. Just think hand sanitiser production lines at wineries, gin distilleries, LVMH, etc. Or people adapting scuba masks to ventilator masks and so on. 

Despite the high rates of unemployment happening there are jobs available in other sectors.

Jobs in High Demand

There are likely to be many different types of jobs available, including:

  • Cleaning and sanitation of buildings, public spaces and transport
  • Food services and home catering
  • Health care and carer/community support roles
  • Outreach for people who are isolated or who need supplies delivered to their homes
  • Manufacturing roles including food manufacturing
  • Logistics including warehousing, security services and driving roles
  • Customer service and call centre roles
  • Waste management
  • Environmental management
  • Outdoor work including regional infrastructure damaged by bushfires (e.g. walking trails)
  • Agricultural, including fruit harvesting

How can Barrett help you stay open for business?

In the spirit of we’re all in this together, this is how my team and I are able to support you in helping your business stay open for business. We have developed our Staying open for business during & post COVID-19 support package, including access to a Business & Sales Triage Team to help business, owners, sales leaders, sales and service teams, and sole traders make informed decisions about what they need to do and how to do it. We are very aware they are all looking at how they can stay in business during these difficult times.

At Barrett, our goal is to help businesses stay in business and keep people in jobs. We’re offering REMOTE business and sales consulting, facilitation and education / coaching services including cost effective remote short and snappy remote ‘fire drill’ and ‘best practice’ 1on1 and group sessions:

  • Group webinar sessions about what to do and how to prioritise sales and other relevant topics
  • Sales strategy and sales market segmentation – how to adapt and find the opportunities in the supply chain of supply chains (see the video)
  • Client care and crisis management for client account management
  • Best practices skills sessions for sales and service teams to retain clients, keep deals on board, find hidden opportunities, etc.
  • Coaching for senior leaders and sales leaders to effectively navigate these times and remain cool headed and focused
  • Remote and online education in sales, service and leadership practices
  • Well-being and purposeful optimism 1on1 and group coaching sessions to aid mental well-being and resilience
  • Plus a whole lot of other topics as well

Remember, everybody lives by selling something.

Related topics

We have published a few posts to help tackle some of the practical and emotional challenges brought about by the current situation:

Open for business – how to keep selling and doing business during COVID-19

What to do when there’s panic in the air – get focused and get selling

How are we selling and buying when the house is on Fire?