Survival of the fittest: Time for SMEs to embrace essential change

New risk factors to economic growth and inflation are causing unprecedented levels of volatility and unpredictability. Businesses – especially smaller businesses – need to be brave to survive.

New risk factors to economic growth and inflation are causing unprecedented levels of volatility and unpredictability. Businesses – especially smaller businesses – need to be brave to survive.

The economic outlook is changing fast and taking many businesses by surprise. Following a multitude of risk factors – COVID-19, labour shortages, and now the impact of geopolitical conflict – costs are rising, budgets are shrinking, and reactions from businesses are poles apart: accelerate digital transformation plans or stop and take stock. 

But only one of those approaches will succeed. Global economic volatility is set to endure for years to come and, with recent figures showing a sharp increase in companies registering insolvent across England and Wales, this is no time to ride out the storm. 

Change is essential and companies have no real choice but to get to grips with new economic realities. To do so requires more insight into customers and prospects, eradicating inefficient or manual processes, and finding better ways to manage and engage a new hybrid workforce. 

Driving revenue 

Opportunities still exist: they have not disappeared altogether. But the downturn in demand is hitting some harder than others. As a result, businesses need to ensure they can accurately assess the implications for the company, its customers, and prospects if they are to find ways to grow while minimising wasted activity. This means decision-making needs to be far more insight-driven.

Can we identify customers that still pose good upsell opportunities? Do we have a way to identify customers that are a flight risk? Are we analysing buying behaviours to understand new habits that dictate how and when is best to engage? These kinds of insights are central to a company’s ability to quickly adapt and pivot in times of economic uncertainty.

Enabling a hybrid team

Recruiting and retaining skilled staff remains a challenge at a time when management is still coming to terms with a new hybrid workforce – a model that makes the onboarding of new employees more complex and time-consuming. Not only is vital customer and sector knowledge harder to keep and come by, but the remaining workforce is under huge pressure to be more productive. 

Businesses therefore need to capture this customer and prospect information to bridge the gaps and help bring employees up to speed faster. They need processes in place to actively use this information to drive revenue. But they must also ensure remote teams are looked after. For example, are certain individuals within the remote sales team underperforming – if so, management needs to know. Early intervention is key both to safeguarding the sales pipeline and minimising the risk of losing a member of staff.

Unlocking essential insight 

Companies need to adapt fast to new challenges. What will give us a competitive edge? Should we trial a different approach in one part of the business? Without the right tools and technology in place, businesses simply cannot know. They are unable to capture the data required to support effective, consistent processes and respond quickly to economic volatility.

Agile businesses are leveraging digital transformation to create new sales and marketing playbooks, automate processes, and ensure individuals are productive and efficient. These businesses are automating workflows and reducing manual effort. And, with every change, they are using the data captured within their CRM to assess performance across the business and inform the best next actions. 

Investing in change

With a recession approaching, successful businesses need to outperform the competition. But that requires immediate insight. From products to services, sales to marketing, it is those companies that invest in change today, and arm themselves with the means to identify and respond to every opportunity, that will not only survive, but thrive.

John Cheney
John Cheney

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