The National Bureau of Economic Research marked June 2009 as the end of the recession that began in December 2007, and the beginning of an expansion. The recession lasted 18 months, which makes it the longest of any recession since World War II. And for small business owners and their key employees, it’s been a L–O–N–G 18 months,
Historically, however, small businesses emerge as winners from an economic downturn. If you have survived, you are probably stronger than you were before, and you are much more agile than your larger competitors, who have survived by cutting costs, cutting staff, and cutting back.
But benefitting from the recession is not automatic!
Here are five key steps to take as you position your company to grab market share in 2011:
- Get an up-to-date understanding of how your competitors are positioning, what they are promising, and what claims they are making. Have their customer targets or deal-size targets changed? If so, how will you position relative to them?
- Review and revise your Target Filter, or create a new one if you haven’t completed that exercise previously. Big companies have cut costs and hoarded cash for two years; today they are more ready to spend. However, you need to understand the winners and losers among your prospective larger customers and understand their timeline for recovery.
- Big companies are more skittish than ever about making purchase mistakes. But they are also far behind in the innovation curve. Understand exactly what would frighten them about doing business with you. Address those fears head on with tangible evidence of your capability and stability. Pay special attention to the double-edge of “pain” that they have—not only the pain of the problem they are trying to solve, but the even more fearful pain of implementation demands and internal discord. Make it painless for them to do business with you.
- Know the buyers and how to satisfy their needs. In addition to the people who have always been at your Buyers’ Table, this recession has brought out new requirements for purchasing agents, procurement specialists, RFP purchasing, and selection consultants. Be certain that your sales people and Subject Matter Experts are “expert” at identifying and meeting with all members of the Buyers’ Table early in the sales process.
- Revisit your sales process steps, focusing on what you need to learn and what you need to tell at every step. If you do not have a clear company-wide sales process methodology, it will be hard to grow your company at the rate that you desire. When every sales person has his or her own methods, you do not have a process that you can understand, manage, train to, improve, or scale.