Future Proofing Your Business

By Guest Blogger Shelley Mann

Image of a hand holding a clock

The other day I was speaking to a colleague about challenges we have faced in our sales careers.  Rightfully so, the recent pandemic and its economic impact came to mind quickly followed by the global recession in 2009.  The obvious link between the two for both of us was the impact on business and the need to be flexible in how we approached performance.

I found this conversation extremely relevant to our current situation as we face ever present headwinds economically and the continued talks of a downturn or, gasp, recession.  While prevailing opinion is that any recession will be relatively shallow, it will affect business performance.

Immediate reactions by most companies are to reign in spending and costs, often cutting back in spaces where you should not – Sales and Marketing. While focusing on how you can reduce your expenses is imperative to weathering an economic downturn, having a strategy and spending in spaces that will drive your overall topline revenue are key to thriving through a downturn.

Okay, that is a lot of words about what might happen…so what about actions you can do today to help your future-proof your business?

Here are my suggestions:

1. It is time to streamline your expenses.

The time to evaluate your business model and understand where you can and cannot cut expenses is before a downturn sets in.  Ask yourself the question of where you can and cannot cut back – and be ruthless. If an expense line is not revenue generating or critical to the performance of your business, do you need it or just want it? Can you outsource some roles to consultants to save on compensation or benefit costs? 

As I said earlier, cutting marketing or sales spend would be detrimental to your business. In fact, if you have any opportunity, leaning in with extra spend in these spaces will pay dividends. Case in point: During the pandemic, many hotels furloughed or laid off their sales teams – no one was traveling so why do they need sales? Challenge was, as essential business continued to need support, they could not get in touch with anyone. The hotels that won were those that kept sales and marketing in place. They were able to quickly capture short term revenue and were also leaps ahead of their competition as restrictions started to loosen leading to quicker recovery.

2. Create a sales strategy around Total Account Management

What does this mean? Well, in the Business to Business (B2B) sales space, this means approaching each current and future account with the idea that you are focused on fully developing all potential revenue streams.  When performing discovery on the account, it is asking open ended questions focused not only on your existing business solutions but on any challenges that the client is facing and investigating how you can help. The best place to discover alternate business streams is by talking with your existing clients.

Let me give you an example. While chatting with several people recently about what I do, I started to get questions around if I provide Sales Coaching.  While this was not on my professional radar, the more I was asked about this, the more that I started to consider the prospect as a viable new way to help my clients as well as increase my revenue potential.  

This leads me into #3

3. Have you investigated all alternate business opportunities?

There are three questions you need to ask yourself when considering alternate business opportunities: Are there spaces you do not currently fill that you have the capability to; is there a large enough market for this alternate business opportunity; and do I have the bandwidth to build and offer something new. Bonus question is will you love building and offering something new.

In my personal example above, the new line of business is relatively close to what my main business model focuses on, I have had enough interest to signal there is a market, and I can modify some of my existing processes quickly to enter this new opportunity.  Bonus for me is that I really enjoy helping others to succeed and this will help me connect with even more business owners to grow their revenue!

4. Final point: What are your mitigation strategies?

I shared with you earlier an example from the hotel space and how some were able to thrive when most did not.  Those that were the most successful started to ask the right questions: Who is still buying? How are they buying? How do we get speed to market?

All good businesses have a strategy plan in place. Great businesses revisit this plan often, watch the trends, and can pivot their strategy quickly when the need arises. Plan, then plan for the worst of times.

Final thoughts…cut where you can, think Total Account Management, investigate Alternate Business Opportunities, and have mitigations strategies in place. We all hope to operate our businesses in good times, but we also need to make sure we are prepared to drive revenue when the economy is sub-optimal.

Shelley Mann spent 20+ years in sales and sales strategy roles in everything from fortune 500 to family-owned businesses. Shelley started her business, Strategic Sales Advisors, with a commitment to help small to mid-sized businesses optimize their sales structure, teams, and processes to grow revenue. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge and experience. 

Want to know more? Visit Shelley’s website at: Shelley Mann, Strategic Sales Advisors