Crises create chaos in a business. They also threaten a business’s existence. The stress generated from these events is profound and it wears you down to a place and space where you can give up hope and get destructive. If that is too dramatic, it can fray your nerves leaving you operating on raw emotion and impulse.
Both are terrible.
To take control back, you need a plan. Yet, a plan in a crisis is hard to come by because often you are working with deep uncertainty. But there is a plan. It includes being able to change direction frequently until you stabilize the business and regain control. What tells you to change direction is where data becomes essential. Without it, you will work on impulse energized by either fear or a cavalier, destructive, all-or-nothing drive.
Listen to the podcast of Pavlo Phitidis’ discussion about creating and using data to make decisions in a crisis, from The Money Show on 702 and CapeTalk:
That is the conversation I had yesterday with a business owner.
Desperate for revenues and cashflow, he set his sales team out and into the wilderness. His instruction to them: Get whoever, however, whenever, anyhow, anyway, and anywhere…on board. We need sales.
He was right. They needed sales. How he wanted to get sales was the flaw in his plan. And it almost sunk him.
Stick to your knitting and remain focused on your value stack. Don’t ‘pivot’ without very careful consideration.
Run your numbers on the new offers you believe will sell in a crisis given the changes that your customers have and must undergo. Will these numbers help you to preserve your business?
Set up a sales process and articulate the sales steps: what, why, who, when, where and how much?
A system is: Activities in a sequence that can be measured and taught. So identify the selling process, to deliver your changed offering, and the activities that make up the sales story.
In short cycles (daily) measure the activities. When the deals don’t come in straight away, don’t recreate the whole process, go through the data of what, why, who, when where and how much to see where your customers are falling off and address that point.
Pick up the patterns of behavior of your customers through the sales process and tweak it to cater to the customers.
Do it with more than 1, or 5, or 10, or 20. You owe it to your team to have certainty and confidence that the offering and system works. They need to believe in it, to sell it.
Don’t do more and burn your relationships. If you apply it to all your customers, and it isn’t working, you undermine your social capital, and your team’s confidence.
Make the changes in your sales process based on the data, and make only 1 change at a time and get it right.
Repeat the process and make subsequent changes, each time fixing or adjusting only 1 element of your sales process. This builds confidence in your team and creates a positive cycle.
Structure determines behavior
Once settled, and you have identified which customers and which offers are working, incentivise that behaviour in your team. It may be very different to the aggressive sales approach which won pre-Covid.
Time is not on your side, every action must count but while emotion clouds judgement, data keeps you sane. Act on data.
The seed of innovation and a reset business lies in a systematic approach to resolving a crisis. Not doing so could result in losing an opportunity to rebuild the business, relevant to your customers and as a result, reignite it to make up for lost revenues.
We are fallible and we are all prone to extreme emotions in a time of crisis. Seldom does an emotional knee-jerk or gutfeel in this environment result in a good, solid decision. Data clears the reliance on sight in a storm and reduces it to the cold, hard rational purview of a radar and GPS system. In a storm, as it will save your ship, in a crisis, it will save your business too.