With the COVID blues all around us, it is difficult to get excited or plan for 2021. However, proactive businesses who take this current market lull as an opportunity to set themselves up for future success will be best positioned for growth post-COVID. Here are five considerations for businesses as we head into 2021.
- Don’t let your brand go dark
The natural tendency during a downturn is to reduce costs, including scaling back on marketing and business development efforts. A short-term retraction is justified as you weather the storm. However, businesses that disappear tend to recover more slowly than those who remain active and present during downturns. In the 2008-09 recession, organizations that remained focused on building their brand grew 10%-30% faster post recession than competitors who pulled back on their marketing efforts. From social media to community partnerships, explore ways to keep your brand active and engaged as we navigate through COVID.
- Invest now in systems, tools, and training
During busy periods, the common refrain from many organizations is frustration around ineffective marketing tools, underperforming systems, or poorly trained and overwhelmed staff. Why not use this time to address the items that are lacking in your organization? Does your proposal template need work? Is your CRM sub-standard? Is your website out of date? Have you researched all the prospects in your pipeline? Can you upskill your current team? There are several ways for organizations to make good use of the COVID slowdown and be better prepared to hit the ground running when market conditions improve.
- Leverage centres of influence
A difficult market increases the desire of most sales professionals to target new business and reach out to “cold” prospects directly. However, people generally tend to be unreceptive to unsolicited, direct approaches. Instead, you should seek to identify a target market’s centres of influence and leverage them to access your ideal client. A centre of influence can be a person, organization, association, communications channel, etc. that is already known and trusted by the ideal client. Do you have an existing relationship with those centres of influence or can you find a mutual beneficially way to partner with them to increase introductions and referrals? Strategically working with centres of influence is a far more effective way of reaching your ideal client than relying exclusively on direct sales.
- Give more than you take
When was the last time your client heard from you when you didn’t need something from them? If all your efforts to engage the market are focused on promotion and serving your own interests, the market will tire of you quickly. Instead, focus on ways of adding value that have no direct benefit back to you. Can you introduce your clients to those in your network to help them grow? Can you share relevant articles related to new opportunities? Can you offer a fresh perspective to an existing problem they are facing? By seeking to help first, you will drive benefit back to your organization long-term.
- Maintain a positive mindset
It is easy to feel ground down from the seemingly never-ending bad news around COVID. Growth-oriented organizations focus on what they can control and seek to remain relentlessly focused and positive despite difficult market realities. There are no market conditions so challenging as to preclude opportunities. Remain positive and look for the bright spots that are still out there, then focus your energies on those. Encourage your team to show up for their clients and colleagues in a way they will be proud of years from now.