Tag Archives: Vendors

How Do You Succeed in Turbulent Markets? Seven Suggestions

A CEO is concerned about a possible downturn in the company’s market. They have survived the Great Recession and want to assure that they continue to survive future downturns. How do you succeed in turbulent markets?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • In turbulent markets, companies do everything that they can to reduce costs. This includes just-in-time ordering – regardless of lead times which they view as the supplier’s problem, delaying orders until they have confidence that they can sell what they order and produce, being miserly with cash, and demanding lower prices – even if supplier costs are rising. Dealing with each of these requires a steady head and creative solutions.
  • Spend as much time as possible meeting with important vendors and clients. Maintain the dialogue. They need you as much as you need them – without your products and services, their business is compromised, too. Spend time finding and cultivating the right relationships in client companies. Most of the time, this will NOT be the purchasing departments, but higher ups within the business units who are being pressed by their superiors to generate sales and revenue.
  • Pushing harder does not work in turbulent markets. Too many others are doing this.
  • Change your message – what used to work does not work now. Adjust your message to the times and adapt your message to your customer’s needs.
    • People want choice, and to do business with those whom they can trust to deliver.
    • Develop good case studies and testimonials – stories that your customer can share with others in their company.
  • Adjust your sales approach – look at SPIN Selling (Status, Pain, Implication, Needs-Payoff).
  • Don’t cut sales and marketing – focus it on the sectors that have cash and who are using the current market to grow. These people will continue to buy.
  • Look at what worked for you in the last five years – this situation is similar.
  • Look at your communications through the eChannels – if your competition is there, you should be too. For example, explore LinkedIn.

Special thanks to Jennifer Vessels of NextStep for her contribution to this discussion.

How Do You Boost Short-term Cash to Finance Growth? Two Approaches

Situation: The Company is seeing an upswing in work and backlog, but doesn’t have cash on hand to support the work. The bank won’t increase our credit line. How can we increase cash flow and better position ourselves with the bank?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • First, try to speed payments from customers or delay payment to vendors.
    • Add a schedule of values to contracts to prompt earlier payment. Sweeten early pay terms.
    • Ask for money up front to cover out of pocket costs.
    • Ask vendors for additional time. They’d rather be paid later than not paid at all and can be surprisingly supportive if approached honestly.
    • Negotiate terms with customers and suppliers in advance. This gives you additional information to take to your bank.
    • Slow down longer pay term sales by raising prices to finance your cash flow needs.
  • Study the ratios that your bank requires in your line of credit agreement. Adjust assets and expenses to fit these requirements.
    • Can you time your sales between quarters to smooth performance?
    • Update inventory counts. Look for uncounted inventory.
    • Look at your equipment. Have you been expensing or depreciating it? Shifting big items to a depreciated basis can benefit cash flow statements.
    • Once you’ve gathered this information, see if your accountant can update or restate recent statements. You may be able to generate enough impact to go back to your current bank or approach a new bank to secure a larger credit line.

Key Words: Cash-Flow, Bank, Credit Line, Payments, Payables, Vendors, Early-Pay Terms, Terms, Inventory, Depreciation