Doom and Gloom Economy

March 30, 2008 at 4:20 pm | Posted in Business | Leave a comment

As bad as the economic news has been recently, if a newscaster came on and said “A 10-mile wide meteor is going to hit earth within the hour” I think most people would sigh and wryly add: “It figures.”In the midst of a general malaise such as this, lots of folks start to feel they have a right to expect nothing but the worst. Budgets are shrinking. People are far more judicious about their corporate and retail purchases. The belt is tightening everywhere. The outlook is gloomy. Times like these will definitely expose the metal of a company and how we all plow through it will have a lot to do with how strong we are on the other side.

One of the first things that gets exposed is how much a company really knows about itself. It’s similar to a football team that cruises through the first half of its season winning every game against inferior opponents. They neglect the fundamentals and never dedicate to a particular strategy. Instead, they just try lots of different things, and because the competition is weak, things work and they win. This leads to a false sense of security that quickly becomes exposed when they start playing better teams. When they heat is on, they find that they have become a jack of all trades, but master of none. They have no roots. No fundamental anchor. Sounds simple and overly obvious, but if you don’t know EXACTLY who you are to your customers, to the market, and to yourselves, don’t wait another day to figure it out.

Once you’ve made sure your executing internally, dive into empathy mode with your customers. Focus on the customer’s customer. I recently spent a day with one of our new customers learning about their business. I tried not to pitch any of our products until I first understood how they do business, what their fears and concerns are, and how do they help their customers to succeed. Only then am I able to become a consultant who is seen as someone trying to help them succeed during a difficult time. As a consultant, help them understand how your products and services will help them through these challenging times. Find ways to convey ROI (Return on Investment), whether it be in terms of hard or soft dollars. Position yourself as a tool to help them through this, not as an expense they need to avoid.

This stuff may sound like “Sales 101” but I believe they are things the whole organization needs to understand. Too often during good times, most folks in the company can simply do their job and not see the big picture. That is bad for a whole slew of reasons. Take this time to get everyone on the same page with confidence in your company. It’s now more important than ever, and confidence is contagious.

These are tough times, indeed. But if taken as a opportunity to refocus on you and your customers, chances are that you will come out way ahead of the game when things turn back around. Good luck to us all.

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