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Not making your targets? Don’t despair!

Most companies are facing their biggest challenges of peacetime history as we navigate through the Coronavirus pandemic.

Some won’t make it.

Falling sales and profits?

Many are keeping their heads above water, but their 2020 market and product development plans, sales targets, and profit forecasts haven’t just been shot through – they’ve been dive-bombed!

This is a massive challenge for sales and account managers who are primarily “numbers driven”. They derive their purpose and measure success purely on quarterly sales performance, and by that indicator they’re crashing.

We have been speaking with clients across sectors, and a consistent theme has come through that right now customers don’t want to be heavily “sold to” by suppliers. They want:

  • help to get them through
  • to be listened to
  • flexibility
  • co-created solutions and services that will assure mutual value in the “New Normal”

They want relationship.

I find it somewhat ironic that hard-nosed “just sell it; I don’t care to whom” sales people are now having to spend their time building relationships with customers rather than ‘selling stuff’. This isn’t news to us. We established Customer Attuned on the conviction that good B2B business relationships are founded on trust, interdependence and mutual commercial benefit.

So, what’s to be done when you know you’re not going to meet your target this year?

Here are some things to think about that can bring out some positives from the current crisis.

Have you noticed that under normal trading conditions many important projects and investments get cut or delayed “because we’re just short of our target”? We’ve seen it many times, when a budget gets cut in month 12 to help ‘get over the line’. The sad thing is that it’s often longer term and strategic investments that suffer, to the detriment of the customer or employee experience.

Right now shareholder and stakeholder expectations have moderated enormously. They want to see survival assured and solid recovery / transformation plans in place to adapt to and win in the New Normal.

Slash and burn cuts might help with the former, but not with the latter.

We would argue that now is the time to make highly focused strategic investments that will reap benefits for years to come, not just in the next quarter.

These include:

  • Customer centricity. Is it just talk in your organisation or have you genuinely aligned around who actually pays your wages?
  • Trust. Are you building it, or compromising it through counter-cultural, knee-jerk, or short-term tactics?
  • Insight led. Have you noticed how data driven the response to the pandemic is? You will need to have more data science capabilities than ever before to understand and adapt to the New Normal. Customer value management (CVM), re-segmenting your base, and AI-supported decision making will be key steps in your recovery.
  • Account management for long-term relationship quality. Or will you revert to a short-term, finger pointing and numbers obsessed culture?
  • People! A key component, adapting competence and capability frameworks and development plans to get the most out of the new ways of working that result from these points and the lessons learned in surviving the pandemic
  • Systemic, end-to-end value chain management that joins up supplier management right through to customer management. You won’t be able to afford silos and internal politicking in the New Normal
  • Digital transformation. You will already be doing this – what can be accelerated because of what we’ve learned during the crisis and lockdown? For example, IoT (Internet of Things) has been talked about for years, but all-of-a-sudden it’s a key enabler of tech-driven Covid-19 track-and-trace initiatives (Apps). What are you doing to capitalise on its heightened recognition and acceptance?

I hope these points spark some hope for a successful future? At Customer Attuned we can help you with any or all of these opportunities.

Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss any aspect of business recovery or business re-engineering.

Peter Lavers

Peter Lavers is a co-founder and Director of Customer Attuned Ltd.

An expert in CRM and customer experience management, Peter is regularly recognised as a top influencer in the subject.

He's a SAS Collaborator and IBM Futurist; and regularly features in "top people to follow" lists for Customer Experience, Customer Service and Customer Success.

His early career was 18 years with Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motors, after which he jumped the fence into business consulting, helping clients improve customer experience and value.
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