Tick, tick, tick….. if you listen carefully you can hear the market moving. It never stops – always moving, changing, finding the path of least resistance.
Often when the market changes – it comes as a surprise. You may find your infrastructure, setup, overheads, sales team skills and makeup are wrong for the current market. Tempus Fugit!
At this time of year a lot of businesses are planning or reviewing their performance. With this in mind I have included my guide / clock which may help you understand what behaviors to look for and what your focus should be for you and your team.
Here is how to read the model. Just like a clock it reads from 12 Midnight clockwise. Start in the center & chose the center quadrant which best describes your current business:
- Peak: Business is booming and never been better,
- Shrinking: Business is falling and very competitive,
- Slump: Business is at best flat and it is even hard to find low margin work,
- Expanding; Although not highly profitable, inquiries are increasing and demand seems to be growing.
The next circle represents the key activity the business owner / director needs to deploy to that market context;
- Negotiating with your suppliers, employers and any contracted providers. Generating more competitive terms with clients and suppliers alike
- Investing: Key infrastructure, software and support services. Investing in research, strategy product development management and planning.
- Marketing: Communicating brand values internally and externally. Good public relations, media coverage, making news – being newsworthy & getting your value in-front of your prospects
- Selling: Leaving no money on the table – maximizing your revenue & sustainably harvesting the market
The next (third) Circle represents your key focus with your sales team
- Firing: Get rid of the non producers. If the bottom 20% of your team don’t even earn their own salary – I bet if you had to pay for them with your own salary you would let them go. So be nice but be firm.
- Motivating: Now your team is smaller – although they have the skills – they need to be motivated and engaged with the challenge – so create incentives – make them short term and based on behaviors as well as results.
- Hiring: Inquiries are coming in and demand seems to be growing although your margins are still low – now is the time to be recruiting and building your capability – although this will increase your short term overhead it will ensure you are well placed to profit from the next market cycle.
- Training: Invest in the tactical selling skills and behaviors your team need to maximize every sales opportunity
The final – outside circle represents the ‘mindset’ of your team in relation to the prevalent market conditions. I encourage you to study the model and relate where your business is and then how your current strategies, tactics and behaviors relate back to the market and importantly what you are doing to prepare for the next stage.
Each quadrant of the clock is not balanced – ie if your market has been flat or in a slump for x2 years it does not mean the next period will be of the same length. Your particular business may go through the entire cycle on a monthly basis where others may spend years in each quadrant. The key thing is to adapt and change your strategy and tactics, find areas which are in expansion and growth and move into those asap.