Managing An Unpredictable EconomyApril 19, 2016 . .
With this unpredictable economy, every business has been through ups and downs, and they’re going to continue for the foreseeable future.
What do you do when the inevitable happens and things slow down? Panic? Sit in a dark room and bemoan your situation? Layoff your staff and close things down? Or do you take the opportunity to become more competitive and differentiate yourself from your competition?
With the right mindset, slow times are an opportunity – a chance to take a step back, breathe, and look deeply at your business.
Undertaking a discovery exercise on your business can help clarify your vision, focus the direction (strategy), then ensure you’re being very effective in getting there (how).
Start with Vision
Is your company’s vision clear and communicated throughout the company? Who are you? Why do you exist? What makes you special? People want to connect to a bigger vision. It harnesses their passion.
- What should your company look like after this slow period passes?
- What about in five years?
- What makes it unique?
- How does it create value for its customers?
- What’s its ‘WHY’?
The vision for your company is vital in developing simple strategies and ensuring everyone is moving in the same direction.
Develop Simple Strategies
Do you suffer from chasing-objects-syndrome? Symptoms include a need to go for every opportunity.
Simple strategies are key to the success of your business. By keeping it simple, your team can easily focus and determine what actions to take. Robert Murray, a strategy Yoda at Incrementa, suggests a maximum of three strategies for maximum effectiveness.
Optimize your Processes
We spent time with a manufacturing customer recently to help them prepare for and select an ERP system. As part of this process, we work with clients to develop a clear understanding of their business processes through process mapping.
As we walked through a simple process, the number of steps and decision points grew and grew. The process had grown organically over the years, adding decisions and steps to overcome shortfalls. Eventually the process map looked like a giant plate of spaghetti!
The CEO was shocked, but now understood why the process required multiple fulltime staff.
Between helping the company rethink the process and their new ERP system, the process dropped to less than one person.
Unstructured processes have a tendency to grow without anyone knowing, becoming less and less efficient, more error prone, and potentially massively impacting the bottom line.
Why wait for the market to rebound? If you have a great product (or service) and the value proposition is clear to your customers, market conditions have much less impact.
- Look at your sales process. Is it well structured?
- Do you have clear targets and a methodology to close work?
- Are you using a CRM to track your sales process?
- Are you building relationships with the right people?
- Are you penetrating the right markets?
One of Incrementa’s previous clients managed to increase their sales massively without acquiring a single new customer. We helped them move from a very dated CRM (think a simple customer list) to one that included full order history and a semi-automated, structured sales process.
Once data migration was complete we found a number of opportunities:
- Customers who purchased their equipment > 10 years ago and have not been contacted again – time to replace the ageing systems!
- Customers who purchased equipment more than a year ago and had never bought spare parts or had maintenance done!
Just in these two areas, there were more than 5,000 prospects. Over the next year they worked through these prospects and increased sales by more than 20%.
… and changed the post-sales process to ensure there were always touch-points and alerts to create tighter relationships with existing customers.
Don’t miss out
Slow periods are an opportunity not to be missed. Take the time to step back, focus, prepare, and then grow.
Mike is a Technology Strategist, Project Superhero and Cyber-Security Simplifier. He is a partner at Incrementa Consulting a boutique consulting firm dedicated to helping businesses be more successful. You can connect with Mike on Twitter, LinkedIn or the Incrementa website.
This entry was posted in Growth, Operations, Vision & Strategy and tagged Business, CRM, ERP, Goals, Growth, Motivation, Optimization, Process Improvement, Purpose, Recession, scalability, Strategy, Targets, Vision. Bookmark the permalink.