Despite the trillion plus dollars spent by two administrations, job losses in the U.S. and around the world are at record levels. Most companies are not prepared to make it through this environment.
There is one certainty in this financial mess. All companies have to produce more with less and try to keep existing customers while acquiring as many new ones as they can. To make matters worse, an atrocious financing climate means all companies need to be profitable or as close to it as possible.
Yet in this environment where there is no margin for error there are so many mistakes being made. If you keep making them, your job and those of your colleagues could be next. Here are keys to keeping your job.
Work harder. Work longer hours. Immerse yourself in your profession. Know what your suppliers and your competition are doing. Know everything. Become an invaluable resource to your colleagues. Become the last person the CEO could ever consider firing in their right mind.
2. Have a plan and evaluate and change as needed
Numerous times I have seen companies spend hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars on marketing campaigns and at the end of them the company has no idea how to measure effectiveness. In one case I witnessed a company launch a huge branding campaign and at the end of it they wondered where the leads were: not realizing that lead generation and branding are different things.
3. Act like your life depends on every customer: it might
This may be dramatic but 10 percent of the workforce is unemployed. You aren’t likely to get a job for a while if you are let go. Make sure you sell every customer you can and keep the existing ones as well. If you are on vacation and your top customer contacts you, explain to your spouse the situation and take the call.
It is astounding to me how out of touch companies are with their sales teams. For decades companies have focused on lead generation activities from shows to webinars, and in most cases companies haven’t a clue if the leads they generated were followed up on. The disconnect between management, marketing, and sales is staggering. Remind yourself that your job in life is to sell your products. If you haven’t figured it out by now, make it easy for your company and resign now.
5. Understand when lead generation is a waste of money
How many companies which occupy the lowest tier of a market are spending only on lead generation activities? One company I know competes with Cisco and has an unrecognizable name in the market. They are focusing exclusively on generating leads. Most of these generated leads won’t close because in this economic environment customers need reassurance that smaller companies will be in business going forward. It makes you wonder who is in charge of many organizations and when it became acceptable to not worry about your corporate brand and image.
This is a tough one but all companies are facing debt collection issues. When you do, walk the fine line of being respectful while firm. Sure, some of your customers are going to stiff you but be careful not to alienate the companies who will quadruple their spending in the years to come.
If you are a company where employees leave at 5:00 PM and don’t sign onto their computers and work at night, you need to make changes. This may not apply to the numerous companies funded by taxpayer dollars (TARP, etc.) but for the rest, you need to produce more with less and getting more work done is the answer. Be prepared to let people who don’t work hard go after a few warnings. You are doing their coworkers and yourself a favor. Over time, let go of more and more weak producers. If people can’t step up production in this financial environment they have themselves to blame.
This is a tough economy yes but learn from your mistakes. Companies which survive this downturn are going to be the leaders of the next decade.
You know what? Customers are spending less but spending hasn’t ceased. Ask Apple or McDonalds. Position your products to match the needs of your customers. Having trouble making IP PBX sales? The simple solution is to bundle a SIP trunking solution along with the IP PBX and show the ROI of the combined solution.
The amount of companies which are spending valuable resources updating twitter feeds that no one follows is staggering. Let me understand – you lay off 25 percent of the workforce–and the sole marketing person spends an hour a day updating a Twitter account with 30 followers? How does this work out financially? Don’t do what everyone else does – do things which generate revenue – things which have a purpose and things which reinforce strategy.
There are more efficient ways of doing virtually all things. Minimize risk while attacking new markets/segments.
Your employees are likely scared. You may not be able to guarantee their job security but you better have a plan for getting through this mess. Articulate it at least quarterly. Make sure you are responsive and understand and respond to employee concerns.
Would you buy from a company that has ceased marketing and PR? I wouldn’t? Ok, I might buy candy or gum from such a company but security software? A firewall? Data center products? I don’t think so. If you think the best response to global uncertainty is to become mute you are certainly doomed. Please stop reading here and update your resume.
A few companies have stepped up e-mail in these times as it is a low cost way to get the message out. I have seen some companies go from no messages to one message a day and it is often the same message. This sort of behavior will definitely get the companies in question added to spam lists which guarantee all subsequent e-mails will not be seen by anyone.
It is 2009 – the web is about 15 years old and some companies still admit they don’t have a web strategy. What exactly are you waiting for – a web stimulus program? Scary stuff.
It is too easy to say the economy is tough and to put your collective heads in the sand until things get better. There are two reasons not to do this. The first is a wasted opportunity. Now is the time to find ways to produce more. Work harder. Work smarter. Now is the time to say that when the going got tough you found a way to make it through and actually increased sales and/or profits. When you retire you will not forget what you accomplished.
Sadly the second reason is because we don’t know when we will go back to the old normal. What if the economy stays slow for the next five years? Do you really think you will be around with no PR and marketing for half a decade? Are you working on a plan to get new customers in today’s economy or waiting for things to turn before you try harder?
I realize times are the most difficult they have been in our lifetimes but regardless of who you are, you can do better. You can be a winner. When you cross that finish line and look back at what you were able to accomplish in this terrible market, I promise you will have trouble wiping away your smile.