Leadership lessons to learn in a tight market

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CEO of Antiriad, the leading provider of B2B marketing solutions. Data driven. Tech enabled. Obsessed with growth.

Every leader intends for their company’s growth to go “up and to the right,” but the realities of the market can sometimes get in the way of that. When the economy turns, leaders typically look for ways to increase efficiency, cut costs and find new opportunities to offset potential shortfalls and drive sustained growth in a challenging macroeconomic environment.

Much of this effort is needed not only to grow in difficult market conditions, but also, with the right approach, to pave the way for competitive leadership and operational excellence. As someone who has been through some highs and lows, here are some lessons I learned that have served my businesses and me well.

Contents

Where to achieve the greatest efficiency

• Visualize your team. After a few tumultuous years of pandemic, work from home and growth and market uncertainty, creating a great team culture should be a priority. A strong culture can help teams work better together and focus on goals without significant investment. So use a common sense test on the structure of your organization. Keep it simple and purposeful. Ensure that strategic plans and the processes and structure of what has already been put in place still make sense and meet their intended goals.

• Make sure your marketing and sales teams work together. When these two growth-oriented teams Work well togethercompanies gain tremendous efficiencies, including shared goals, coordinated lead management, shared customer priorities, and shared metrics.

There is a natural tension between marketing and sales, and that’s fine. Without that tension, accountability can suffer. Sales will typically demand better go-to-market support and more leads, while marketing will demand more content and resources. The best way to find the right balance for your business is with shared processes and metrics.

• Perform a data audit. See where you can leverage insights more effectively. Data-driven analytics can be used by different departments to enable smarter recruiting, cost savings, revenue growth, technology efficiency and much more. You can also use data to identify important new trends, such as whether new customers and site visitors have similar titles to old customers or whether the buying group is evolving. Consider merging disparate customer databases to create one robust customer record in a centralized database.

• Get more out of what you have. It’s natural to focus more on shiny new tools instead of making better use of the ones we already have. But sales and marketing are more tool tired than ever before. Don’t go for a huge integration or major new implementation. Keep it simple and use common sense. Sales enablement tools should enable sales – check if yours are doing their job. Sales and marketing automation tools should streamline processes – see if your processes are as streamlined as they could be. Go back and evaluate all use cases.

• Meet technical partners. See where you can get more out of your tech stack. Gartner notes that technology extends far beyond the IT department and supports almost every department. That’s why I think it’s critical to have an efficiency-oriented approach to technology use to get the most value.

Where to cut costs (and where to double)

• Be smart about spending. In a recession, it can be easy to cut the “big stuff” on the budget or wipe out many seemingly small things that don’t seem to be the core of the business. However, it’s usually better to use performance metrics to drive those decisions, not emotion. For example, if a large, annual event is pricey but generates a lot of new customers, it might be worth keeping it despite the expense.

• Support your customers. A difficult market is also difficult for customers. Now is not the time to reduce the focus on current customers, which are usually one large part of the new sales potential. Ensure customer teams prioritize high value and growth potential customers. Often the squeaky wheel gets the grease when that squeaky wheel may not hold much potential value to the company.

Where to look for new opportunities

• Invest wisely. A down economy is one smart time for M&A if the company you want to acquire is undervalued due to the weak market. Making the move when others aren’t reduces competition for the most desirable acquisition targets. It’s also a good time to get ahead of the market and capitalize on the additional markets, talent of the verticals and integrated approaches that are likely to drive growth going forward.

• Be a partner, not a supplier. Customers want more holistic solutions from fewer providers and partners. Efficiency works when complexity is minimized. If your customers are using the recession to reduce their complexity and their number of partners, it’s important to become indispensable. Deliver service levels that exceed expectations and make life easy for the less resourced customer. New opportunities often come only after a supplier begins to provide a more frictionless experience.

I have experienced the value that comes from each of these strategies. Whichever tactics you choose, it’s critical to adapt to ground conditions, which can change quickly in more volatile times. Change with them and don’t let past decisions under different circumstances limit your flexibility to adapt.

The information provided here is not investment, tax or financial advice. You should consult a licensed professional for advice on your specific situation.


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