1. Consider Hosted Services, Outsourcing or Cooperation/Collaboration with another service provider in lieu of acquiring new products or adding new services. This way it is possible to offer an immediate service as part of the larger offering and broader service without committing time and capital resource. Obtain an SLA (Service level Agreement) from your provider that ensures your good name is intact with your customer.
2. Offer two-tier pricing: higher rate is for immediate service and the lower means delayed gratification and priced for the recession. Say you normally charge $175/hour for service. Regular 3-day response can be $125/hour, while the immediate or same-day service is priced at $250/hour.
3. Use ‘down-time’ to motivate and train employees. Human resource is more important than lip service. Whether it is offering your staff courses, training or coaching now is the time. Make your sales team part of an implementation or service call and the services team part of the sales strategy. Teach everyone how to act in an industry-specific or market segmented way. Can these groups articulate an ROI (Return On Investment)?
4. Analyse your expenditure and revenue sources. Do some customers/vendors/partners cost you more than they bring in? Now is the time to discover them and ditch them. Be brave about it.
5. Be Japanese not American! Do not sacrifice short-term revenue for profitability by thinking long-term. Now is not the time for a fire sale. Companies shoot themselves in the foot and are setting themselves up for both a loss now and sustained low margins in the future. Remember: it is the net margin that counts and pays the bills not the revenue coming in.
6. This is not the time to stand still. Hire the best talent and obtain the best products and services at a bargain. The best talent and acquisition is available now for cheap and probably leads to a higher income than 2% return on bonds in the bank. Buy now and you get a bargain. It sounds simple, but this requires thinking that is confident and against human nature.
7. Solution selling in a recession does not mean denying the recession. There can be a powerful argument for recognizing the recession – especially when combined with the above notion that now is the cheaper and smarter time to buy. Do not deny that everyone is caught in hard times. The economy is real, tangible and a shared pain for you and your customer. Instead, explore how you product can help lessen the impact of a recession on your customer.
o Could your Business Intelligence software tell your customer how much exposure they have to a downturn and indeed how much they need to cut (when the economy is on the upswing they can turn the software back to measuring transaction costs or the profitability of advertising, etc.)?
o Are you in the banking business? Can your service tell customers how much liquidity they need to maintain in order to weather a global recession? The downturn can and must be your friend.
o Could your manufacturing process tell them firms which configurations need to be produced less of and what the market will demand more of?
8. Focus on the industries that are better weathering the storm or even profiting by it. Country Clubs might be in trouble, but Tim Hortons sure isn’t. Discrete manufacturing is in trouble, but auctioneers are not. There is a recession in New York City, but did you know that Nebraska has a 4.6% unemployment rate, thank-you very much (New York is 7.8% as of March, 2009).
o Click here for statistics: http://data.bls.gov/map/servlet/map.servlet.MapToolServlet?survey=la&map=state&seasonal=u
9. Revisit old leads, old customers for more opportunities and when all else fails, generate good will and future business by showing even better customer service now and add to your personal touch. Take advantage of your competition’s turmoil and their lay-offs, which are lowering their service levels.
Remember that it is less costly (some say by 50%) to tap your existing clients than to acquire new ones. Sell more often, sell more dollars on average and collect faster from your existing clients. Can your customer base support a direct referral program that compensates them upon your completing a business transaction with a company they referred?
10. Don’t be a living self-fulfilling prophecy. Remain active and on the job! Less business requires more work and activity – not less!