The business climate today is tough – no two ways about it. What was taken for granted a few years back is no longer valid and companies have to expend a good amount of effort to retain existing business, grow and remain profitable.
What has triggered this change ? The usual reasons are applicable here too – tighter global market leading to increased pressures on margins and hence budgets. Plus business functions are being expected to demonstrate value to the business at every stage which was not such a common ask earlier. And this is not restricted to only the biggies – we are seeing an increasing number of smaller companies adopting rigorous metrics too. All for the good I guess!
What does this mean to companies that sell products and services? One thing for sure – more effort to sell the same. I would treat this as an opportunity to take a hard look at what you are offering and use this chance to reinvent yourself and what you deliver to the client. While thinking on this, I came up with 5 questions you need to ask yourself:
1. Is your offer relevant to the market today? Examine it closely. Do companies have a need for what you are doing today or are they looking for something beyond? For example, selling a product that does not have a cloud alternative no longer makes sense.
2. Is someone doing a better job than you? Are they using better technologies to deliver a superior outcome? Or is there a smarter way of doing things so that time and money can be saved? Examine how you work and see if you can improve on that significantly.
3. Are you adding value to your customer’s business ? As you deliver consistent outcomes, that soon becomes the expected level for your customer. Soon they will want something more and better. This can be in the form of value added services or advice – something that the customer will find useful and will value.
4. Are you thinking ahead? What you are doing today will hold good for only a short while. To stay in the game, you need to be thinking about what’s next and what you will take to market in the next 6 – 12 months.
5. Are you being human? In a frenzied rush to grow and be successful, we often forget to do the simple things right. Meet your customers without any agenda in mind – just a simple conversation to inquire how they are doing can go a long way in growing a relationship. Or treat your team to an impromptu outing. These informal sessions can help forge bonds and help you connect better with one another – key ingredients for a successful venture.