Tag Archives: Delay

How Is The Economy Impacting Your Sales Plan? Five Views

A company is revising sales forecasts for 2016 and seeks the advice of others. A combination of low energy prices and shaky financial markets sparked by the Chinese decline has left many questioning whether they should revise their plans to account for an economic contraction. How is the economy impacting your sales plan?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Niche Software Company – we are coming off of a good year. Our industry has seen low impact so far. Going forward we are cautiously optimistic. A couple of clients have delayed projects but didn’t cancel.
  • Services Company – hiring has been frozen. Adjustments to staff count have already been made. Clients are asking us to contact them again early in the second quarter. Opportunities exist in the health care area.
  • Hardware Company – we are running scared. We have cut business and personnel expenses to assure survival. A large customer just announced new plant construction earlier this week – this may help to turn things around. We are assuming this will be mean a longer term rather than a short-term opportunity.
  • Niche Software Company – cutting personal/business expenses. Long term things look favorable, but we have to survive the short term. Attendance at a large trade show this month was a little above last year but we don’t know whether this will yield a significant increase in sales.
  • Trades – Projects with big bank backing are on hold. We see large scale bidding wars for projects. Where there used to be 3-5 bids there are now 15 or more. Looking for consolidation of competition – especially union–based shops.

How Do You Sell in an Uncertain Environment? Six Suggestions

Situation: A company’s customer base is experiencing market softness and uncertainty. Customers are tightening budgets and delaying purchase decisions. How do you boost sales in an uncertain environment?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Offer incentives to prompt customers to buy now instead of waiting. Two potential options:
    • A limited time discount – Sign by <date> and save X%.
    • Pre-announce a price increase. Follow this with a promotion – buy now, before the price increase.
  • If you are selling a service, package your service options in smaller chunks while pricing them so as not to erode your margins.
  • Consider 30 day trials for $X, or discounted pricing for large or committed long term purchase contracts.
  • Examine your sales process. Are your sales people speaking to the right people? Try to move the sales process up a level if this gets you to the decision maker.
  • If some of your sales people are significantly outperforming others, give them incentives to share their sales techniques with other members of the sales team.
  • If the issue is sales productivity, leverage someone else’s sales team through a partnership. The partner incurs the sales cost while you focus on implementation.
    • Look for opportunities where a partner can sell your product on top of theirs to boost value of the overall offering and increase their own top line.

How Do You Make Time for Initiatives? Four Approaches

Situation: A company is enjoying a good year and is busy both adding new business and serving current clients. However, the CEO finds that when business is good he doesn’t have time to focus on all of his initiatives. This frustrates him. How do you make time for initiatives?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • How extensive is your To-Do List? If you have two or three major, time consuming initiatives, and a host of small tasks, prioritize both categories. Focus on what you can do given the time you have available. Put lower priority on the smaller tasks, and delegate as much as you can, or put them off until things slow down. This will help deal with your frustrations.
  • Block out time for yourself.
    • Do this early in the day, before you have lots of distractions on your desk.
    • Allocate 1-2 hours early in the morning, and get to work a little later. Let you staff know that you are not to be disturbed unless it’s an emergency, but that they will have your full attention when you get to the office.
  • Plan you initiatives, segment them into smaller pieces, and schedule them.
    • Use Mindmapping to segment them, or a piece of software like MindManager to assist your thinking.
    • Among the segmented pieces, look for opportunities to delegate to free up your time and involve staff in the initiative.
  • Develop a Task List in Feature/Deliverables terms with a broad timeframe.
    • Prioritize and build into your Quarterly and Annual plans.
    • Again, look for opportunities to delegate.

How Do You Bridge a Short-Term Cash Crunch? Three Options

Situation: A technology company has grown rapidly over the last year. Two customers representing a significant share of business have temporarily reduced orders for one quarter, resulting in a cash crunch until these orders resume. How do you bridge a short-term cash crunch?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Do you feel relatively secure that once the quarter is over these orders will resume and your cash crunch will be resolved? If so, ask your bank to increase your cash line. Explain the situation, the companies involved, their order history and the expected timing until you get your next payments. A letter from each company saying that they plan to resume orders will help your case. Be aware that the bank may request a personal guarantee to substantially increase your credit line.
    • If you have to personally guarantee a line of credit extension, make sure that you see this as an acceptable risk, and that you can trust the customers to come through with their orders as promised.
  • If you produce products or subcomponents critical to these customers, ask whether they will extend a bridge loan or make a payment against future orders to assure their place in your production queue once their orders resume. You may have to escalate this request within the customer companies if you are currently dealing with purchasing personnel or lower level management.
  • Can you redeploy excess labor to other projects during the cash crunch? You will have to do this carefully so that you can rapidly redeploy these resources to priority projects once a large order comes in from one of these customers.