Perspectives on survivalJuly 29, 2020 by Anderson Hirst in kojo blog
Without realising it, one of the most influential business books I have read is “The Living Company: Habits for Survival in a Turbulent Business Environment” by Arie de Gues, written way back in 1997.
Books on business survival have not so popular in the last few years. If your sales organisation made it this far in the pandemic, congratulations! If you are worried about the future of your sector / your organisation, now could be a good moment to flex your strategic thinking.
The lesson of the potato growers
Arie de Gues’s book looked at companies who have survived a VERY long time. Over 700 years in the case of one Finnish company. He drew lessons from these great survivors. One of the lessons is how potato growers in the Andes survive year after year, through very challenging environmental conditions. Not through optimisation of one ‘super -species’, but by allowing a very diversified crop of species in the fields, and seeing which ones thrive.
Sales organisations over the last 5 to 10 years have focused on ‘relentless optimisation’ at the expense of diversification: Finely tuned tech, analytics and rigid sales processes.
What does this mean for sales leaders? It means allowing for multiple experiments with products and services, to see which ones customers value the most. Yes, it means you won’t have stellar growth year on year. But you will survive. You will learn what customers are prepared to buy in an uncertain world
Digital marketing and revenue generation
When the wind blows strong, it’s easy to tighten the sails and make good progress. Make hay while the sun shines, to mix metaphors. This is a bit of a success trap in way. Customer buy, sellers sell, money is made. Why not just keep going that way?
The rise of the digital marketer shows us there are many other ways to generate revenue. Posting ads on your site, reselling other products / services, becoming an on-line marketplace and providing subscription services for example.
Right now, could be a good moment to gather your brightest brains together and think about new business models. You can use a tool like the business model canvas to help you. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Model_Canvas
If you don’t think of the ideas, maybe your competitors will. Or worse still, companies that you did not consider to be competitors might up-end your industry.
Essential reading for sales leaders
Unless you had your head in the sand, you will have noticed a VAST amount of technology entering the sales arena. If you want to read about some really innovative examples that are already in use, we recommend Clearbit’s book “Data Driven Sales Learn how B2B sales leaders at HubSpot, Salesloft, and other top companies use data to grow faster”
If you are feeling a bit embarrassed by the slides you are presenting at virtual meetings today, read Nancy Duarte’s design guide (Slideology) to building presentations. With lots of visual examples, you will soon learn the principles of excellent slide design and presentation.
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