Want To Know How To Prosper In an Economic Recovery?

Want to know how to prosper, not just survive, in an economic recovery? There are 10 new basic business truths for achieving that, and Janet Schijns, vice president of global channels at Motorola Inc. (MOT), laid them all out on Monday at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo. As she made clear, the steps are not easy but if implemented correctly, they do mean profit in 2010 and beyond.

First, though, Schijns made three predictions for technology and the sales process as the world emerges from one of the worst financial downturns in decades:

  1. The worldwide computer will replace the World Wide Web. Any application will be available to anyone.
  2. Technology for all. In other words, as the democratization of technology takes root, and small companies, too, enjoy the benefits of products such as unified communications and VoIP, agents must include those firms as customers. Schijns said smaller businesses tend to spend more money per person than enterprises.
  3. Lead formation. The traditional way of generating leads is a dying art thanks to social networking. “The crowd” – think LinkedIn and Facebook participants – has taken over lead generation. Companies post their opinions and those views are taken as gospel. Stay on top of the message, and make sure your employees are contracted to follow the rules as well.

With those forecasts in mind, Schijns then led attendees through the 10 steps that will help them get ready for a recovery – whenever that might occur for them.

10. Being competitive and wise – not smart – will be the key. More profit from a recovery will come in the first 18 months of said recovery than in the following seven years.

9. How you go to market has changed. Your customers need to cut their capex from about 40 percent of their budgets to 20 percent or 30 percent. You must sell from a service-level-agreement perspective.

8. The days of direct mail and e-mail and postcard marketing are pretty much done. “Something’s coming that we can’t control and it’s the social network. …It’s really going to be how the market goes to market,” Schijns said. So, on sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook, focus sales messages on time to deploy, productivity; and then cost. This will pull leads to you. And get “search optimized” now. Reserve all combinations of your personal and work names on the major social networks and also buy domain names.

7. Turn green into gold. The emphasis on sustainable equipment and technologies isn’t a gimmick. Granted, it’s not a deal-seller but it is a deal-closer, Schijns said. Promote the green value proposition by being green, not just selling green – through vendor certifications and practicing what you preach. This will give you about a year’s head-start over your competitors.

6. Make price matter. Focus on the value of the investment. Companies do get what they pay for and before long, many are going to realize that the cheaper platforms and products they’ve bought during the recession are just that – cheap. Evaluate your pricing and hire an expert if you must, because it is a science, not an art, Schijns said. Move customers back toward normal pricing, away from the deep discounts seen in 2008 and 2009.

5. Take a closer look at managed services. Be the curator or aggregator, not the creator, of these platforms. Sign with the right service providers now, said Schijns, and don’t overlook managed mobile services.

4. Talent refresh. Do you have the right talent for privacy, security, cloud computing, pricing and social networking? The notorious talent oversupply will only last about another seven months, according to analysts, so now is the time to hire new people.

3. Stalk a customer. Well, with permission anyway. Follow several key workers to see how they’re using your technology, then write about it in your blog and/or on your social networking sites such as Twitter. These types of observations and testimonials will do far more for your company than a “we can do this” statement.

2. Forge strong relationships with your vendors. Find out which of your suppliers sold more through direct salespeople than through the channel during the downturn so you can determine who’s the best partner for you.

1. Finally, are you the leader you need to be? As Schijns said, in 2009, companies spent more money on trade show giveaways than they did on leadership training. If you glean nothing else, know this: “This is the year of leadership,” Schijns said.

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