You’ve managed to get your company through the past few months which have likely been the most challenging and stressful time you had to incur. However, you are still not out of the woods yet. You have to think about how you will move your business forward in the “next normal” which is now looking to be volatile and uncertain times.
To not only survive but thrive in this new environment, it is vital that you undertake the seven steps of post-pandemic planning.
Step 1: Talk to your clients
Your clients endured a lot of stress and change over the past several months. It is critical to have meaningful conversations with the decision-makers within your key clients. Whether it be via phone, video or Face-to-Face, have discovery meetings with them. The purpose of these discussions is not to sell but rather to gain an understanding of key questions such as:
- Where is their business at now?
- What has changed within their business?
- What are now their key priorities?
- Where are they headed?
Gaining insights to these areas will provide you with a clear direction as to how best to deliver value to your clients which will enable you to retain them and potentially identify additional revenue opportunities.
Step 2: Shorten the planning cycle
Despite the volatile and uncertain environment we are in, it is still important to be planning for your business, looking forward for the next 12-16 months. However, given these current conditions, your business must be flexible and adaptable. Therefore, you should review your business plans every 90 days to determine if your assumptions about the way forward are still valid and then modify them accordingly.
Step 3: Establish innovation teams
These should be cross-functional teams that are focused on business innovation. This means that the team is looking for improvements and/or new introductions that can be made across your business.
There are five types of Business Innovation that should be considered:
- product innovation
- service innovation
- process innovation
- marketing innovation
- organisational innovation.
To position for sustainability, profitability and growth, you should be looking at multiple ways that your business can innovate. You can identify opportunities to innovate by “listening” to the trends, developments and needs within the industry and markets in which you operate.
Step 4: Do a value chain review
This should also be conducted by a cross-functional team which examines the following:
- What you deliver: e.g. products, services, advice.
- How you deliver: e.g. service levels, channels, fulfilment.
- How you promote and engage e.g. marketing, sales.
Two key questions should be core areas of focus for your value chain review:
- What are the needs and priorities of your business buyers?
- Are there opportunities to improve?
Be sure to share these learnings across the company and also integrate them into your business planning.
Step 5: Conduct scenario analysis
Based on the market conditions as well as customer requirements, identify the different types of scenarios that may exist for your business, how it would respond and the potential impacts.
Step 6: Establish your metrics
Determine the measures of success that you will use to evaluate the strategies and initiatives your SME will be undertaking.
Step 7: Execute, measure, and communicate
Execute your prioritised strategies and actions. Examine the outcomes achieved and determine:
- What you did well?
- Areas for improvement.
Communicate learnings with your employees and clients.
Don’t delay. Mobilise your teams and start putting these steps into action to get your business running effectively in this “new norm”.
Michael Haynes, B2B Customer Strategy Specialist and Founder, Listen Innovate Grow