Three Tips For Strategic Planning In An Economic Downturn
By: Emily B. Rose, SVP of Broker and Partnership Sales for LegalShield and Forbes Business Development Council Member and Contributor
2022 was a year of inflationary pressures, and that pace is likely to continue into 2023. We feel the effects of a challenging economic environment—through high inflation and interest rates—in both our personal lives and our businesses.
As we head into a new year, it is important for business leaders to factor economic impacts into their strategic planning. This is an ideal time to re-evaluate, adjust and manage expectations and costs, as well as the unique offerings you have for customers and business partners.
We do not have a stable look-back period going into 2023, but we do have an opportunity to experiment with new ideas and approaches. What has been working well for your sales team, and what has not? Where can you make adjustments? Where can you double-down on successes?
Here are three tips for strategic planning and building a solid foundation for your sales team during an economic downturn.
1. Make adjustments to your products and pricing.
Ensure that the products and services you are providing continue to be at an elevated level of quality. You may need to adjust what you are offering in the new year, but that doesn’t mean you have to lower the standards you’ve worked hard to establish.
Take a look at the products you offer and see where it makes sense to make changes. For example, you may decide to discontinue a product because it is too expensive to produce and is not yielding your desired return. Or you might consider alternative strategies such as product bundling or restructuring your pricing model altogether.
2. Explore creative communication strategies.
Communicating the value of your products and services to your customers is crucial, no matter what the state of the economy, but effective marketing doesn’t have to exhaust your budget.
In addition to producing traditional marketing campaigns, consider doing more communication about your offerings on social media. Targeting your ideal audience through social media—by incorporating more low-cost or no-cost videos produced internally, for instance—can be very affordable and yield big results.
Repurposing or refreshing existing materials also enables you to lend higher value to your audience without incurring the expense of creating new content. If a white paper, video or webinar has resonated with customers, you could repackage it as social media graphics, short videos, blog posts or podcast episodes.
Through your thoughtful marketing efforts, keep reinforcing the value of what you give to customers. They are also feeling the economic downturn and making value-based decisions, and you have to remind them of why they need you, especially during this time. If you can continue to show the value of what you offer, while keeping customers’ costs in line with their budget, you can create loyalty and customer appreciation.
3. Build up your existing employees.
During a time of hiring freezes and layoffs, it is critical to ensure retention in human capital—your employees—and investing in their professional development and satisfaction. Turnover is disruptive and expensive. Replacing a single employee can be costly, and it is usually more cost-effective to upskill an existing employee than to onboard and train a new hire.
Investing in your current team members is also a chance to see their talents and strengths grow. Provide opportunities for them to develop new skills and step out of their comfort zones in their roles. Schedule one-on-one time with each employee you manage and have a thoughtful conversation about their goals and interests and how those align with your company’s objectives. Set a plan together so they feel supported taking on more responsibilities or new challenges.
Make sure to celebrate, recognize and show appreciation for your employees during these transitional times. Now, more than ever, employees need to feel heard, seen and valued.
I believe 2023 will be a pivotal year for businesses, big and small. Your sales team plays a key role in shaping the course of the next 12 months. You have an opportunity to optimize your company’s resources, while continuing to optimally communicate your value to your customer base.