By Mark Roberts As companies adjust and learn to sell in the midst of…
By Mark Roberts
In my last post I shared insights from an excellent article published in Harvard Business Publications. Why this article was timely and needed is several CEO’s and CFO’s as well as business owners, Private Equity firms and Venture Capital firms are all having discussions on how to reduce costs but not hurt future performance. How do I save the business today and not set it up to fail in the future? I shared a tool to help business leaders consider much more than revenue by salesperson when rightsizing and retooling their sales teams in my last post. There is one critical Data point everyone must consider in addition when reorganizing and restructuring sales organizations but sadly most will not.
In this post I will share what this last piece of critical information is you must capture to strategically pivot, reset, retool and reorganize your sales organization to survive today and thrive post Covid-19.
As I work with business leaders they are frustrated and often anxious about the future of their business. If you have been in business for a while like me, you have lived through economic disruption and challenges. You adjusted and survived in 2008 and the stock market volatility. You may have seen some revenue disruption after 911 but your team adjusted and grew through those challenges.
Many businesses have seen disruption since the growth of Internet shopping and quickly pivoted and now offer ecommerce on their websites. Many B2B businesses have been forced to reset and adjust their go to market strategy as Amazon is quickly becoming a dominant force in B2B product sales and is disrupting traditional channel partner relationships. If any one of these disruptions were to hit again, we know what to do. We know what we learned before, remember what worked and what failed and have a playbook of sorts to dust off, maybe update a bit and then implement.
Covid -19 is nothing like what we have ever experienced before and therefore many teams are struggling to develop a strategic plan to not only survive but also thrive after Covid-19.
What makes this current disruption so unique and hard to navigate?
Covid -19 was not a single event we experienced and worked through. It is an on going event with new information daily. Not all businesses have been impacted the same. Some businesses have seen little disruption, some have experienced an increase in revenue and many have seen orders drop off 30% or more. Many businesses are dealing with canceled orders they built product for, customers having difficulty paying their bills on time not to mention the emotional toll this crisis has had on employees, their families and coworkers.
We are adapting with virtual selling, and Zoom calls are becoming the norm for many once outside sales professionals. Salespeople are using this time to up skill and adjust how they serve their customers by leading with empathy and improving our active listening skills to truly understand how our customers are dealing with this crisis, how have their businesses been impacted and how can we best serve them today?
Sadly, some organizations are making knee jerk reactions to this challenge without looking at data and taking a broader view. They are downsizing their workforce, implementing mandatory furloughs and pay cuts until they have more information to develop a more strategic plan. I see many distributors for example significantly reducing inventory and counting on their manufacturer partners for drop shipping orders. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of anxiety, concern and even fear.
The good news is you have a strong leadership team with experienced people. They have proven time and time again if given unfiltered data that is prescriptive they can develop strategic plans to survive now and thrive when we come out of this crisis many of us are experiencing.
As I shared in my last post teams are gathering data as fast as they can and searching for trends to develop scenarios and identifying specific trigger events that will activate their future plans. Teams are pouring over KPI data hungry for insights to develop plans and lead their teams through this disruptive market condition. The trouble is many leaders have tunnel vision looking at lagging indicators and need to have a much broader and creative view of this situation to develop the right strategic plans.
As I eluded to in my last post there is one major data point I always consider when retooling and reorganizing sales most teams most leaders are not considering that would add tremendous insight to not only survive today but be one of the few organizations that makes strategic pivots now and thrives post Covid-19.
What is this illusive data point most teams are failing to consider?
Now is the time to intimately understand your customers and be able to answer questions like:
Why do customers buy from you?
Why don’t customers buy from you?
What do your customers consider your value proposition to be today?
How are your buyers buying?
Have your buyers’ buying journey changed in the last 30 days?
Do your buyers have new buying criteria they did not have 30 days ago?
What do your buyers want and expect today?
What are you doing today they no longer value but is adding to your cost to serve?
In a Harvard article recently released titled: The Most Important Metric You are not Tracking Yet, the author shares how most organizations consider themselves to be customer centric, but they are failing to take into consideration how their customers’ needs and expectations have changed since Covid.
Many teams again are pouring over inward facing KPI’s looking for insights, but they are failing to understand CPI’s.
What’s a CPI?
A CPI is Customer Performance Indicators.
The author shares there are two elements for something to be a CPI:
- Outcomes customers say are important to them
- Outcomes are measures in increments important to the customer
What are some increments that are important to customers?
Many people think CPI’s are the same as your Net Promotor Score. Your NPS is one of your KPI’s and measures if someone would recommend, refer others to do business with you. NPS unlike a CPI however does not provide the connection to single intended customer outcomes.
Who in your organization might value a current CPI?
- Marketing – how customers are buying, where are they shopping. how they are making buying decisions and what is their exit criteria today?
- Sales– what do buyers want and need from salespeople today? What are their expectations on services like speed of quote, minimum order quantities, terms, returns…?
- Product Management– understanding product use cases and identifying if product requirements have changed
- Customer Service – customer expectations on metrics like first time issue resolution, ease of accessing someone, ability to resolve issues quickly and completely
- Operations – customer expectations with regards to order accuracy, turnaround time, shipping orders complete
- Finance – tracking and reporting the value you have provided the customer with your product or solution
To make strategic decisions in such a volatile and uncertain business climate we need to consider various sets data not emotion.
We not only need to gather internal data and customer voice insights but we also need to do so quickly because in many cases if it takes you months to gather information it will be to late by the time you try to use it.
Companies who will survive and thrive post Covid -19 will gather data quickly, capture the voice of their customers and establish current CPI’s then assess their sales and other teams on their ability to deliver to the customer stated needs and expectations. Sales organizations that will not only survive but become market leaders post Covid-19 will gather data quickly accessing many data points and develop strategic plans for today and post Covid -19. They will be Agile and adapt and often pivot long before their competitors in fear mode making decisions based on emotion.
It’s time to gather your internal and customer voice data to help your team develop your strategic plans to weather the Covid-19 storm and come out stronger and more effective when it passes. I my goal in this post was to coach everyone to find the voice of their customers today when shaping their sales and service organizations for today and the future.
Leveraging data coupled with voice of your customer feedback is a proven no smoke and mirrors process I have used for over 30 years to help organizations experience explosive sales and profit growth.
If you would prefer my help providing unfiltered, unbiased data in 7-10 business days lets schedule a call and I would be honored to serve your team and position your team to become stronger today and a market leader in the future.