John C. Maxwell, the American author, speaker, and pastor who has written many books on leadership has a wonderful quote about growth that says: “Change is inevitable, growth is optional.” There may be another version of this we should be paying attention to, and I think that version is: “Change is inevitable, so is an economic slowdown.”
With the long economic growth we have been experiencing sometimes it’s challenging to remember that we will not always have the economic tailwinds that have been boosting us along. The most recent ITR Trends Report (April, 2019) continues to forecast a cyclical market slowdown. Their latest report states that “The U.S. economy has moved a little deeper on the backside of the business cycle….and the shift in momentum and outcome will feel more pronounced the further we go in 2019. Our analysis continues to point to a probable first-half-2020 bottom for this business cycle.”
The ITR analysts also advise contingency planning in case the cycle downturn is worse than projected, and advise business executives to “not to forget to play offense by devising tactics to beat the business cycle as best you can over the next four to six quarters.”
The timing and severity of economic slowdowns may be a moving target—maybe we are already experiencing it, maybe not. Maybe the next one will have a steeper decline than originally thought, maybe it will be a gentle decline. That’s not my point.
There will be an economic slowdown, and just as ITR recommends, it’s time to be proactive and to play offense. What does that mean to your business and your go-to-market programs?
In most companies, surviving or even thriving, in an economic downturn is possible. Can you grow in a declining market? Of course you can, that’s why you get paid the big bucks.
When the financial recession hit in 2007-2009, I was managing a team of financial compliance experts serving the banking, securities, insurance, and mortgage markets. No one expected the recession to hit so quickly, or to have such a large impact on the financial markets. We lost over 300 mortgage originator customers in 30 days—gone, poof. Never to come back.
We decided that now was the time to demonstrate our management expertise, and took proactive, offensive actions to not only survive the recession but to come out as a stronger player when the economy came back with healthy tailwinds.
That’s important context, because you can either put your head in the sand or you can take the initiative. We took the initiative. Here’s what we did, and I’ll offer these 10 steps as a practical, proven approach.
A wise person reading this article and the 10-step checklist may likely say: “Why shouldn’t I be doing these activities all the time and not just to prepare for an economic slowdown?” You get an “A.”
Having challenges with your pipeline management, alignment of sales and marketing programs, customer acquisition, cost per lead, or overall revenue growth? If you are interested in learning more about building a high-performing Marketing program, please give me a shout.