No one knows better than you that your business and your customer's business have changed in the last 10 months. If you remained in contact with your customers during this time, you probably have a good idea about the state of their businesses.
Now as we creep closer to a year of the pandemic and many businesses have adapted and/or are returning to some semblance of normal, is an excellent time to define who you want to be going forward.
A recent "What They Think" video interview with Ace Designs' Sheri Robertson observed that there are going to be winners, losers, survivors, and thrivers in this environment. There already are. Even though she was describing commercial printers, she could just as easily be describing technology and solutions providers—such as those selling RSA's Web to Print and workflow solutions.
The more optimistic hardware and solutions resellers and their customers are hoping their businesses will return to the way they were before March 2020 with revenues rebounding to post-pandemic levels. While that is an admirable goal, I am not sure how realistic it is in the short term.
What struck me most about Robertson's advice (listen at about the 17:10 minute mark) was to "decide who you want to be on the other side of this [the pandemic]," and that at least for her, outside influence is not going to determine if she is going to be successful. She is going to determine if she and her firm will be successful.
What's Your Plan?
You need to decide on a long-term vision that will determine if you are a winner, loser, survivor, or thriver. Maybe you had a long-term vision before the pandemic but have since discovered it did not address a catastrophic event such as an ongoing pandemic.
So, where are you now? Do you expect that business will organically return to normal without any changes? Do you have a plan? Inaction or allowing things to play out organically may work for a select few, but for most, a wiser strategy is getting a better understanding of who you are and how you are going to get there. Maybe that means running a leaner operation, relying more on partners like RSA for expertise or focusing on offerings like production print workflow solutions that make customers "sticky." For a sales organization, particularly those with seasoned salesforces, this may be how you define your business going forward. Focused and lean.
As you redefine your organization, think about how you will communicate with and serve customers and prospects well into the future. If your business is still intact after the darkest days of the pandemic, you are a survivor. I think most of you want to do more than just survive. You can be a winner, but to thrive you need a long-term vision. To do more than survive and win and thrive, I suggest that everyone at all levels of your organization focus on the following:
- Marketing - Continue to keep your company’s name front and center with customers and prospects. Make sure you have a strategy that enables you to communicate with current customers and prospects about the value of the products and services you offer. Quick emails and social media posts are a great way to communicate. We offer our partners monthly newsletters and other resources and information you can share with customers. For example, years ago we put together a marketing success kit from customer examples. It remains a popular resource.
- Scrutinize your budget - Long-term viability and success are dependent on financing and budgeting. This ensures you have the capital needed to fund operations, acquire assets, and fund other critical areas of the business. But don’t just look for places to reduce expenses, see where you can invest in the business for it to grow. RSA has customers investing in their business right now to grow their operations and increase efficiency. You can do the same.
- Encourage employees to improve - This isn't about asking them to sell more but enhancing their knowledge and skills so they are better prepared to operate in the business environment- whatever it may be. By doing so they and your business will thrive. Also, pay attention to your employee’s mental health. Be empathetic as to how the pandemic has impacted them and their families while also motivating them even if customers are not considering buying today.
- Keep planning - If you are not future focused and only thinking in the short term, that doesn't bode well for the future of your business. Business and business continuity planning are essential. Few business owners had a business continuity plan in place for navigating the long-term events of 2020. Now that we've seen how bad things could get, incorporate worst-case scenarios into business continuity plans. Doing so can mitigate the impact of another major disruption and provide a framework for meeting key objectives even if things are rocky for a while.
Resellers serving commercial printers and in-plants have historically faced challenges every day. It's just that those were minor challenges compared to events of the past year. Today's challenges although different, must be addressed to be more than just a survivor. The future of your business depends on winners and thrivers throughout your organization.
Want Help Executing Who Are You in 2021?
Your local RSA BDM can provide you with the critical tools and knowledge necessary to help your business thrive and win in any environment.