2015 seems a long way from the tough economic times of 2008 and 2009, and certainly the economy is much better than it was. But if history is any indicator, tough times will come again, and when they do, will your business be ready?
So far in 2015 we have seen less than stellar economic reports relating to job growth, which raises concerns about the overall economy. Forbes reported in April that March job growth was the lowest seen since December 2013, and was far lower than what economists had forecasted. Even more recently, Reuters reported in May that April’s job growth was again far below expectations. This follows plummeting fuel prices and job losses in the oil industry, among other concerns. No one can predict what the economy will actually do in the months and years ahead, but what is certain is that times will not always be great for your business. Here are three steps to take to make sure your business is positioned to withstand the next--and inevitable--downturn.
Cultivate Your Customers
What if your customers suddenly had their budgets slashed by 50%? Would what you provide be viewed as essential or dispensable? One of the keys to staying strong in a downturn is to hold on to the customers you have. What processes and programs do you have in place today to deepen your relationships with your customers? Vendors that disappear after a deal is done risk getting cut first when budgets dry up.
Prove Your Value
Your customers may seem happy, but if you can’t prove your worth in hard numbers, somewhere along the line you can be seen as non-essential. Are you doing the right things to prove the value your company provides? Or are you riding on waves of excess budget? Don’t wait until your customer challenges you on ROI. Demonstrate--and prove--the value of what you provide on a regular basis through regular reporting. Bake this into your offering from the very start so your customer is aware that these metrics exist and that she can have them at her fingertips if budgets get questioned.
Know Your Sales Formula
Do you have a consistent, proven sales formula that gets results? Or are you blindly throwing darts, hoping to hit a bullseye? Successful sales leaders look to define that magic formula and then “hit the repeat button.” This requires tracking what works, and tweaking what doesn’t. Top sales pros agree that the process should include careful planning and research of your prospect before making a call. A salesperson who has spent time learning about a prospect’s business will always have a leg up on someone who walks in asking a bunch of questions, the answers to which they should already know. Make understanding your prospect and their business a priority.
The economic outlook is always uncertain and we will all face challenging times in business. Use the good times to take steps to position your company--and yourself--to survive when the economy turns south.
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