There’s been a lot of discussion in recent months about exactly what the road to recovery looks like, doesn’t look like, or should look like. And there are a multitude of competing opinions on this subject. Here is my take: As you look at your own organization’s road to recovery – however you're defining it – I would suggest closely examining three basic areas: the competitive landscape, the shifts in the market, and the critical decisions that may need to be re-evaluated within your own organization. Let’s look at each of those in turn.
The competitive landscape. The past year has compelled us all to make decisions about responding to a new, and often startlingly different, business environment. No matter what industry we are in, there was some kind of major change for us to deal with. And those who did not quickly adapt paid a price for their inaction. As a result, we need to take a moment to assess how our competitors have responded to those changes because, based on what they’ve done (or not done), there may be new threats to evaluate and new opportunities to pursue. For instance, are there any potential new alliances that have snuck onto the radar screen in recent months which could give us an advantage moving forward? Sometimes a change in focus transforms a former competitor into a natural ally. Similarly, we need to explore whether there are any major competitors who have still not gone virtual, or who are dragging their feet in that area. Are there any players in our space whose inaction basically begs us to go after their clients? Finally, are there any new competitive initiatives on the horizon that could affect our market share? We need to know the answers to these questions so we can decide how best to deal with the threats, and how best to leverage the opportunities.
Shifts in the market. News flash: Buying patterns and priorities have shifted, often dramatically, over the course of the past year. In our world, for instance, company platforms are equipped with refinements that make it less and less likely that sales leaders and sales professionals would ever need to leave it. So, we have to make it easy for people to build us into their platform! Another example: Just about everything sales professionals do is now being done virtually. At Sandler, we have made it a priority to adapt to this shift. Between March 15th and June 1st of 2020, we completed over 3,500 virtual two-day boot camps. We were able to accomplish that feat because we were already heavily invested in virtual training, so we were well-positioned to ramp up that initiative and make a strategic shift, giving us about a four-month head start on our competitors. The underlying idea here is pretty simple: Shift your product and service offerings to track where you believe the puck will be moving. That means taking an objective look at what's going on in the marketplace... and making informed projections about what’s likely to be going on six months to a year ahead.
Take a look inside. Determine whether any changes need to be made to current staffing plans, because changes in the competitive landscape and in the market are going to affect our business plan. That means (to use a baseball analogy) that our lineup card and the depth of our bench may need to be tweaked or even dramatically changed. We may need to upscale some people, enabling them to make a bigger contribution at a completely new level. We may also need to cross-scale some people, so that they can thrive in a new team, inspiring them to be more effective and efficient. And that’s not all we need to look at internally. For example, does our process require improvement? The past year put stress on all of our organizations, and that stress has not always been easy to deal with. But guess what? It also serves as a unique opportunity, as it perhaps pointed us toward certain internal processes that may not have been as tight as we needed them to be. We can fix those! In many cases, people may have been struggling with new responsibilities they inherited. That’s a sign that the playbooks we set up for the position may not have been as well-designed as we thought – another process to examine.
Here’s the big takeaway: We need to set priorities. We must decide which buckets we are going to be assessing, as sales leaders and as entrepreneurs, to make sure that our organization capitalizes on its fair share of opportunities in the months and years ahead. The three priority areas I’ve just shared with you are, I believe, a good starting point to begin planning your organization’s path forward on the road to recovery.
To learn more about making that journey, register for Sandler’s Virtual Summit to see my live presentation on The Road to Recovery, which will cover these issues in depth. Hope you’ll join us!