Business growth in turbulent markets is the test of any company to not only survive but to grow.
Through recession periods like the GFC, (and now COVID) business stability has fluctuated combined with erratic business confidence. Companies are facing sustained market challenges that they have never experienced before. This has become the new status quo, and it may be a long time before we see a strong year on year growth as prior events such as GFC and COVID. There are always opportunities to remain profitable, and many companies are still going gangbusters while others suffer.
Travelling against the wind
In times of rough waters, companies often focus on operational effectiveness and look to marginalise exposure on their bottom line. This may be prudent and necessary in some situations, although it pays to be cautious so as not to undermine the business’s capacity to grow. To achieve business growth in turbulent markets, you need a more aggressive and direct approach to focus on the functions that contribute to top-line revenue, such as the sales force and marketing.
The key to success is to innovate.
Innovation is the key to achieving and leveraging your competitive advantage, although before this can occur, companies must first pull the levers that move them in the right direction to achieve business growth in turbulent markets. Marketing will play a major role in finding that new position in the market and the competitive advantage. Marketing will need to research, identify and test the messaging before it can pass through to sales.
Unfortunately, many sales forces are not calibrated to perform in a new competitive environment, with many sales managers and their reports relying upon industry skills, customer relationships, and product knowledge. Sales forces are often not agile enough to contribute to innovation and new competitive messages. For those companies that have an agile sales force, this is a great bonus to achieving business growth in turbulent markets.
The speed required to bring innovation to the market puts extreme downward pressure on the business. Sometimes the innovation can change the go-to-market strategy. In other cases, it can be repackaging a product or service to a new audience. Fast-tracking research and development projects bringing new products to market earlier. There are many ways of bringing innovation to a business, but it requires thinking outside the square and operating where people are not comfortable.
Functioning in the new market
The direction is set for your business growth in tough markets, and agile thinking must remain at all times. The markets are shifting and will not necessarily settle for some period of time. The emphasis will move, in most cases, to new customers and new audiences, adding additional downward pressure on the company to perform. Considerable sales planning is necessary when developing the messaging you take to market. This should be refined and developed in tandem with sales and marketing to ensure the messaging resonates with the target audiences. It becomes a critical success factor and ensures that your salespeople are building your brand and maximising opportunities.
Measurement will become key to your success. Measurement of marketing and sales functions that provide transparency into the success of each step of the buyer engagement.
The measurement supports agile thinking, so minor changes and adjustments can be continually made to keep the connection between the buyer and the company moving to a positive outcome.
Changing the culture
Once appropriate frameworks are established, a company must seek a cultural change in the sales force that values the new offering to the market and the new knowledge required to implement the new strategies. The lagger of time in transitioning to new thinking can undermine the success of any company that is operating in turbulent markets. Cultural change must also extend to the rules of the company, both visible and omitted. New standards must be set, driven by leadership from the CEO and management. This will foster a new perspective that will ensure staff operate within new boundaries to produce revenue.
Failure to adapt to these changed market conditions will affect a company’s ability to produce a profit. Further, the reliance on existing customers will exponentially cripple sustainability.
If you are faced with requiring business growth in turbulent markets, now is the time to act to ensure you protect your business. Unfortunately, time is not a luxury as months slip into years, and after two or three periods of negative growth, your choices become limited.
To learn more about achieving growth in tough markets, please reach out to the office and organise a time to discuss your specific challenges.
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