Hope you had a wonderful July 4th weekend with your family? While July 4th celebrates independence it also is a moment for reflection and appreciation of the American spirit. A sense of resilience, perseverance, ingenuity. A “can do” / “will do” attitude. A willingness to move ahead, conquer and excellence regardless of “today’s predicament.” Somehow, “we” know it will be better and “we’ll” make it better, turning survival into thriving and success. July 4th also represents the \”starter\’s gun\” to the second half of the year.
Business travelers will remember dates between March 13-16 as “the last time they traveled” over the past 3 ½ months due to COVID-19. It has roiled the business over the past few months but, we’re adjusting, and will again.
Which gets back to another hallmark of July 4th. It represents mid-year. And the weekend represents the opportunity for a reset and a second half sprint to the end of year.
What it takes to lead the field
There are three major tasks for each company to consider over the next six months.
- Execution over the next two months to retain business
- Identifying demand opportunities for late Q3 and Q4
- Planning for 2021
But all need to essentially be conducted simultaneously but they require thinking about the business differently.
Phase 1 Execution is all about:
- Ensuring safety of employees and customers, for today and longer-term. Don’t think about “stop gap” moves.” COVID will be here for “awhile”, so make the right investments. This will help in saving future costs, gaining trust from staff and customers and highlight that you are thinking about the business for tomorrow.
- Delivering on customer needs to capture sales over the next two months is critical. This requires defending share and, opportunistically, taking share.
- Closing business to “catch up” from April. This is the “V” that people hoped for, albeit consolidated into a few months.
- Execution is about July and August
Phase 2 Demand Generation
This is the time, September 15th – November 15th, that has many concerned. The question is “will their be projects that will fill this pipeline / backfill backlogs?” There is concern about funding for these projects. Are investment funds available? Is there willingness to invest in certain types of projects? Will companies need to reallocate investment funds into PPE funds? Will some businesses have cash / resources to invest? Many questions … but there are other industries that are growing.
Earlier DISC overviewed some potential markets that could represent opportunity. For the contractor market, it\’s understanding value-added services, account penetration and perhaps helping selected ones target specific segments.
With your sales organization you can develop a \”target account program\”. Or consider a short-term promotion. For manufacturers, account-specific marketing can generate opportunities, cost-effectively.
Demand generation takes a different skillset than execution. This is where the “value”, or “skill” of sales comes into play. Additionally, true marketers are revealed.
Account targeting. Clearly identifying and communicating your value proposition. Targeting segments. Focus. All are critical to demand generation.
Selling isn’t about closing, it’s about the customer wanting to buy.
I had a sales manager years ago who said should never sell a customer anything. He / she should understand your value proposition, and more importantly the benefit of working with you and want to work with you so that all you are saying is “when do we start.”
Nothing anyone has is “needed”, but “wants” it. How can you become “wanted”?
Be creative, be aggressive, talk to customers, expand horizons to identify new opportunities. Risk takers win here, and this time period will “make or break” the year and be a springboard for 2021.
Phase 3 Planning for 2021
Not all tasks are sequential. Planning for 2021 is something that needs to occur simultaneously with Phase 1 and 2. The planning “timeframe” frequently changes by size of companies. In fact, some manufacturers start their planning process this time of year.
2021 planning is going to be unique.
- Do you “plan” expecting today’s COVID environment or a different one? For how long?
- What is your expectation of the market?
- How have your processes been impacted?
- More importantly, how are customers and their customers being impacted? What are their new expectations? What is their outlook?
- What is your “horizon”?
A key first step is gaining “customer” insights. This should be 360o input. From end-customers / contractors, distributors, salespeople (and reps / RSMs), perhaps even employees or suppliers (but not necessarily raw materials unless soliciting cost insights). Ask their opinion about market, their opportunities, how “you” can improve and more. Those who contribute want you to succeed.
Next, ask departments how they can improve. How can “you / they” be easier to do business with? What additional value can each bring to their customers? What processes need to be improved? How can utilization increase? What is their value proposition, and the company’s, today and what could it be?
If you are in sales, the issues are the same, but about your goals and \”account package\”. Where are customer needs? Where are they going? What is your value proposition? How can you generate more? What do you need to be successful (or, more importantly, what does your company need to do to be more successful with your customers / in your territory?)
Ask what is important for account retention as well as for taking share. Then prioritize.
It’s about asking for information, seeking opportunities, developing ideas, changing models and anticipating the future, knowledgeable. Going into 2021 companies will be more conservative with investments and will seek to reallocate current funding. Focus and enhancing models will be critical.
Obviously, there is more that goes into planning, but the process starts “now”, which makes the second half of the year a sprint. Much to be accomplished in a limited time because, once it gets to around November 15th the year disappears in the blink of an eye.
Resilience, perseverance and ingenuity can help turn a \”challenging\” first half of the year into a profitable second half.
Are you ready to sprint and lead the pack? Have you motivated your team to lead the field?
And yes, a third party can be effective in asking questions to uncover insights and bring ideas.