The age of wariness

In these times of economic stagnation and decline there are some watch-outs for business leaders and managers to ensure their businesses do not fall under any perception of instability. There is a pervasive sense of wariness in all aspects of business conduct. You see this wariness demonstrated by banks and financial institutions who are reducing lending to business. You see wariness in credit managers who apply more scrutiny in opening new customer accounts. Companies are watching their supply chains for any hint of instability among their vendors. It is going to be part of the business landscape for the foreseeable future.

As a business person you need to be aware of what signals you and your business may be sending to others. I do not suggest you become paranoid, but consider some obvious ones. Your language when you meet a prospect or client in person needs to be positive and upbeat. Do not get caught bemoaning tough times or doom forecasts you read or hear in the media. Make sure that you still look the part. This might be superficial but people will judge you by your appearance and a scruffy appearance can send the wrong signals about your state of viability. Make sure you return calls promptly and your email regularly. I could really go off on a rant about un-returned phone calls and lack of follow up. A prospect or client does not perceive a lack of diligence in communications as signs of busy-ness; they perceive it as signs of an dis-organised or pre-occupied person. Monitor your team and ensure they are also presenting well and responding with discipline and diligence to all communications.

When you are selling do not deviate from a solid sales process. In tough times you may find some of your competitors skipping sales process steps and trying to score a sale without a relationship. They will also be prone to drop prices and offer ‘value adds’ to close a deal. If you have experience in b 2 b sales you understand how dangerous selling to a company without some foundation of relationship is. If you start the process with price discounting it is hard to avoid appearing desperate. Keep your prices where they are and explore other ways to secure a sale by matching your clients’ needs.

If you are using social media, do not let your activity lapse. I wish I kept track of all the websites I visit that are out of date. I visited one consulting company website yesterday and the last blog was late last year! This consulting company is focused on helping IT companies grow sales yet the perception I had when noticing the gap in blogging was negative. If you are blogging then do so regularly. If you are using other tools like Linked In, Tumblr, Google +, Twitter or Facebook then do not ‘gap out.’

it is times like these that give some firms the chance to dominate. You can keep building capacity and performance in bad times as well as good.

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