Now is a Great Time To…Right now is a terrible time for most businesses. Sales have plummeted, doors are closed, and employees have been laid off by the tens of millions.

And yet…

There’s always a positive in every negative situation. I don’t want to sound like a Pollyanna (because I’m definitely not one), but it’s true. And if you’re a salesperson, marketing executive, small business owner, or CEO, you need to find the positive and act on it. Because if you can do that, not only will you make it through the current crisis, you’ll be positioned to succeed in the aftermath.

What kinds of positives? Well, right now is a great time to…

Define your ideal client
Clearly understanding who your ideal customer is enables you to maximize your sales and marketing efforts. What do your best clients have in common? Where can you find more of them? What’s the best message to communicate to them?

Check on your customers
How are your existing clients doing at the moment? How can you help them survive this turmoil? Now is the time to strengthen your customer relationships. Taking care of your clients today will ensure they stay with you for life.

Give something away
HBO is giving free access to 500 hours of its best programming. Taco Bell has been giving a free Doritos Locos taco every Tuesday. Wendy’s is giving customers a free Frosty with every order. Gold’s Gym and Planet Fitness are providing free workout videos. (To work off those tacos and Frostys.) Hotels are giving free rooms to medical personnel and first-responders. And they’re all getting free publicity for their efforts. What could your company give away?

Find ways to partner with other companies
Which of your competitors could you conceivably partner with to do something neither of you alone could pull off? And what companies who aren’t competitors, but serve the same market that you do, could you cooperate with for mutual benefit?

Identify a new market
Who else needs what you provide? How could you tweak your existing products or services for a different customer base?

Create a new product or service
What do Rice Krispies, Miracle Whip, chocolate chip cookies, Diet Coke, ketchup, Twinkies, and the aforementioned Doritos Locos taco have in common? (Besides the fact they’re all delicious?) They were all invented during economic downturns. Ditto for Scotch tape, the iPod, fluorescent light bulbs, nylon, car radios, tampons, and the electric razor. I’m currently creating two new keynote speeches and a new coaching program. How could you innovate your way out of this crisis?

Improve your social media efforts
Social media is an incredibly powerful sales and marketing tool, and yet most companies don’t use it effectively. Right now is an ideal time to explore the platforms you’re not currently using and get better with the platforms you are using.

Study and train
Among the most common excuses people give for not engaging in professional development or training their teams are that they’re too busy or they don’t want to take their people out of the field. WELL, YOU’RE NOT VERY BUSY NOW, ARE YOU? And your people sure as hell aren’t in the field! So use this downtime to arm yourself and your teams with new skills, insights, ideas, and tactics.

Hire people
If you’re in a position to hire people, there’s never been a better time. There are more than 26 million people looking for work, which means you have the pick of the litter.

There are always opportunities around. They may not be the opportunities you were expecting, they may not be as big or as plentiful as you’d like, they may not be easy to find, but they’re there. And how well you survive this crisis, and how well you do after it’s over, will largely depend on how well you identify and act on the opportunities that exist.

So seize them. Now.