Well, fall and Halloween are here, the leaves are falling and a scary time is had by all. Unfortunately, it looks like the U.S. economy might be following this trend.
In recent days, numerous reports and corporate earnings are showing a downward trend in revenues and profits with warnings of more to come, including layoffs. What about you and your business? Like leaves, are revenues/profits falling and are things looking a little dark and dreary? Are you scared? Should you be, or have you prepared? Let’s talk strictly about sales.
Try this analogy: Sales is like financial planning; it needs to be diversified and regularly monitored and adjusted.
Using oil & gas an example, until a year ago, things were great and those servicing this sector were hitting the leather off the ball and knew, from history, the industry would take a downward spin; albeit not as fast and bad as it did. It was too good to be true or last (as the saying goes: “All good things must come to an end”).
What to do?
Following are some suggestions to minimize the risks and improve your position. But before you look, as yourself this question: Do you truly understand your served markets and individual customers? OK, now look:
- Look at your historical sales, margins and profits: While many disagree, go back as far as you can (1999 would be great, just before the .com crash). What has happened to your business in each of those years relative to the overall economy and the rest of your industry? Are you ahead, behind, or the norm?
- Identify your served markets and customer types: What does the makeup look like by sales, margin and profit?
- Which customers and markets should be re-evaluated? Looking at history, the present and the future, what does each of these look like and do they fit your business model?
- What does your current forecast look like: You should have a formal process and monitor it.
- What does the future look like? Looking at individual customers, markets and customer types, determine what the future growth opportunities are as well as how to capture them and when (VERY POWERFUL).
- Resource management: How is your salesforce spending their time? Does that “big” account really need to be called on every week (hint: likely NOT). Alignment the sales effort with the rest of the organization.
Of course, in order for this to work, you must be open to reality here and honest with yourself. Do you truly understand your served markets and individual customers and what lies ahead?
Are your leaves dry and brown or brilliantly colored and will you be a Grim Reaper or Wonder Woman/Superman this season?
Chuck Kitchen, Principal of Business Betterments, has 30 years of industrial B2B manufacturing and distribution experience and offers assistance growing and sustaining sales and profits. He is a Sales Advocate, bringing a total business acumen to the forefront (he has successful P&L and Board experience too) and eager to help others (not consult per se, but instead, listen and offer help). In addition to a diverse background in manufacturing and distribution, he has developed a proprietary, web-based SaaS program to help organizations improve and sustain revenue, margins AND profits. Learn more at: www.businessbetterments.com. You can contact Chuck at chuck@businessbetterments or (612) 412-1341.