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What Works Now?

As business leaders today, we are faced with a tremendous challenge: The worldwide economic downturn.

Cash and credit are dwindling, sales for most are off significantly, and the morale of your people is sinking. This is not a time to reflect. It is a time to act, decide, and energize your people with urgency. 

Most of you overestimated how well your company would do in the downturn. Because that’s what you wanted to believe. Now you have seen that it is ugly for you as well as for just about everybody. Revenues are off in the range of 20 to 30% for the best of companies, and much worse for those in the hardest hit sectors. We are not out of the woods yet, 2010 is projected to be not much better than 2009. What are you doing to prepare?

It seems that CEOs and business owners fall into one of two general categories. The first group is meeting the challenge head on, proactively making changes to adjust to the new reality and positioning their businesses to become stronger and capture more market share now. The second group is trying to survive by hunkering down and waiting for things to improve.

Which of these groups would include you?

The CEOs and business leaders in The B.E.S.T. Group all would be included into the first group and here are some of the things they are doing:


  • The CEO/business owner are spending at least 50% of his/her time on business development

  • Looking at their sales organization. Do they have the right people? Do they have enough? Could they add a commission sales person? Is the commission plan they have working?

  • Reviewing their sales process and following it.

  • Identifying their unique selling proposition and using it to their advantage.

  • Approaching their existing and prior customers for more business often.

  • Developing a prospect list of ideal customers (Reference USA, NAICS, AGCSD, etc.) and a strategy to contact them.

  • Measuring all activities and comparing them to the plan.

  • Considering whether their people need sales and/or negotiation training.

  • Developing a sales backlog report and reviewing it at least weekly.

  • Abandoning strategies and products that don’t fit the core business and aren’t profitable.

  • Reviewing their advertising budget and strategy. Increasing it in areas where it is working best.

  • Doing everything they can to maintain prices. Selling their value. When they are forced to reduce prices, they get something of equal value in return; a trade off. Remember, that during a recession, people will pay more to get quality because the cost of failure can be fatal.


  1. Communicating with their team often. Letting them know what is going on; how badly the company is being affected; sharing the pain. Employees will work harder and be more willing to make sacrifice and change if they know what’s needed to survive and remain viable.

  2. Analyzing whether they have the right people on the bus. There are a lot of good people available right now. A recent study by Robert Kelley and Janet Caplan of Bell Labs employees found that only 10-15 % of them achieved outstanding or star performance. More importantly, the study found that these star performers were eight times more productive than the average employee. So having the right employees on the bus could save you lots of money.

  3. Questioning every technique that worked during boom times.

  4. Calculating their Break Even Point and doing everything they can to get it as low as possible without cutting sales. Every thing is considered; lease, supplies, wages, etc.

  5. If their sales backlog report is telling them that you need to downsize, they are doing it quickly! They know that work expands to fill the time you have to do it.

“Life (and business) isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” - Picasso

Actions to take now:

  1. Think about which group you are in. If it is the second, do you want to remain there?

  2. Decide which of the things in the list above you should do in your business.

  3. Decide who in your business should do the task, assign it to them, and establish a date to have it completed.

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