With most economic experts predicting that Australia is heading towards a recession, the question is... What can your business do NOW to ensure your business continues to grow in these tough economic times?
Any business leader worth their salary packet, will be considering this question right now. And whether or not the economy heads into recession or not, hits harder than expected or not, now is a great time to think critically and allow time to reflect and reset.
Here are some thought starters for your critical thinking and the challenge for your business to thrive in tough times.
Get your marketing and sales teams working ahead of the game
Firstly, it’s essential to get your marketing and sales teams aligned. Successfully integrated marketing and sales teams is perhaps the easiest and quickest path for growth. When marketing and sales teams don’t align, they become reactive and it’s hard to get traction. It’s not easy to get ahead of the game but it is essential for continuous growth ambitions. Here are some tips on how to get your marketing and sales leaders working on the business if they are currently stuck in it (and most are).
Simplify/dumb down the messaging, processes, structure, vision. This sounds easy to do but as businesses grow our natural inclination is to add complexity. Demand focus, simplicity and brevity.
Delegate and elevate. If you can’t achieve this then you need to review people issues blocking this progress.
Predict with accuracy short- and long-term cycles. Putting effort into forecast accuracy will enable better prioritisation and resource allocation and avoid issues piling up.
Systemise so that it becomes easier to achieve simplification. If systems are followed by everyone then the business becomes predictable.
Structure to achieve the above. You need the right people in the right roles. Over time personalities and ‘the way things are done around here’ mentality can be a real growth road blocker.
Focus on your sales pipeline
Filling up your sales pipeline with new leads now before times get tough is a smart move because as hard times hit you will already have the momentum to progress deals through before customer confidence takes a dive.
For example, let’s look at the following scenario.
Let's say that your sales pipeline is currently containing 30 qualified leads and your close rate per month is 25%. Then roughly 7 new customers will be generated each month. That’s on average 84 new customers for the year.
However, what if you could double the qualified leads to 60 by early next year? Even keeping your conversion rate at the same percentage, that’s 180 new customers for the year, which is predicted by some to go into recession.
The point is that the thinking and work you do now, today, has a material impact on the time when the biggest impact of a recession is likely, so now is not the time to sit on your hands.
Define and stay true to your collective ambition
After the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 MIT’s Sloan School of Management conducted a study into those businesses that came out of that economic downturn stronger than beforehand. They developed a model called The Power of Collective Ambition. The model is a summary of how leaders and employees think about why they exist, what they hope to accomplish, how they will collaborate to achieve their ambition, and how their brand promise aligns with their core values.
These businesses that succeeded during and beyond 2008’s tough economic times never made the mistake of following a single focus, such as profit. Rather, these businesses encouraged their team members to collaborate in building their collective ambition to move beyond singular goals taking into account the key items required to achieve and sustain excellence.
Has your business defined its collective ambition? If so, stay true. There are seven components to the model that have been found to drive successful businesses and brands. We’ve developed a seven-question assessment to help you audit your business in these seven components.
Take the assessment here.
Show courage not desperation
We are all familiar with businesses that become desperate during tough economic times. Staff are laid off, budgets are slashed, team members become stressed and it becomes a race to the bottom for many businesses.
It takes courage to be proactive instead of being reactive. Stepping up your marketing and sales investment now rather than waiting for the downturn to hit requires courage. During a downturn, business don’t stop making purchases however as the competitive pressure increases, are they going to choose your business? Do you have a more engaging brand story? Is your website experience better? Are you helping and educating more remarkably than your competitors?
If you show courage – particularly now, then the answers to these questions will be in the affirmative and your business will thrive and grow during tough times.