During uncertain economic times, business leaders have little option but to best prepare their organizations for potential upticks and unfortunate downturns.
The doom and gloom crowd may tell you the end of times is near, while overly optimistic folks will continue to cheer you on with claims that economic downturns are cyclical and everything will be back to normal soon. However, during uncertain times, business leaders have little option but to best prepare their organizations for a bit of both – looking for ways to proactively tighten the belt AND creatively scale their business with fewer expenditures and smarter use of existing resources.
During uncertain times, focus on what you know and what you can control
Spikes in inflation rates, the war in Ukraine and probably a hundred other factors have even the smartest business leaders bracing themselves for what may be ahead. Even with unemployment rates nearing an all-time low, the uncertainty of today’s economic conditions is causing great concern and uneasiness throughout our marketplace. So, while there will be no predictions of the severity of the changing economy in this post, we will offer a few tips to help you constructively spend your time and energy in order to put you and your business in the best possible position to handle even the most unsettling economic changes.
“Facts Are Friendly”
Let’s start where today’s smartest businesses thrive. Information gathering and reporting. It’s times like these when remaining on top of revenue data (and the activities that contribute to it) is most valuable - especially to your decision-makers. Even when your data displays or signals unexpected or unwelcome results or trends, such information is critical in removing a sense of uncertainty in your business.
Obviously, the advice to arm your team with revenue- and operations-related facts isn’t new, but it IS reasonable to expect that facts will be taking on heightened importance in the months ahead. It’s also reasonable for every department to expect to have to do more with less.
Reporting. Reporting. Reporting.
It’s rarely easy to get our friends in sales to update their CRM and other reporting systems. So, you may need to bang that drum a little louder with Sales and Sales Management and communicate that, while consistently reporting pipeline data should always be the mantra, today’s climate calls for a sharp reduction in ambiguity and higher intolerance for unnecessary information gaps. Make it clear that the pace and intensity of reporting reviews have indeed risen, and that reporting into other aspects of the business may also increase.
Look Beyond the Forecast - There’s Revenue in the Onboarding Queue
Far too often, business leaders only hone their focus on getting a sales contract signed. After all, we all need closed deals. But this laser beam focus often diminishes once those deals reach the implementation stage. And while every business needs signed contracts to stay afloat, they also need those deals to go live. Here’s why (and you’ll likely hear us say this time and time again): No one gets paid until the product is delivered. So, the advice here is to dig in! Companies leave money on the table when deals they thought were “won” become lost during the critical implementation stage. The kicker here is that this frequent gap where revenue is lost can be avoided with better processes, data, and monitoring.
No, Seriously, Really Dig In - Push for CS Ops Data as Part of the Rev Ops Report
There’s margin being lost in product delivery. Too often challenges during implementation result in completely avoidable delays. It’s not at all uncommon in our industry to see two- or three-month delays in project timelines. Let’s restate the problem for emphasis: six, two-month onboarding delays add up to a full year of lost ARR. So, the advice here is to start making a bigger deal about recognizing and fixing delays in how your product and value is delivered to your customers. Begin by tracking post-sales activities – such as onboarding and implementations – with the same rigor that pre-sales activity is monitored today.
Maybe Stop Doing Implementations for Free
Here’s a mindset that more B2B software vendors need to adopt. Customers are most likely buying your software because they see the software solution as a better way to run their business. Essentially, the customer – typically a team of decision-makers – is placing a huge bet that what they’re buying will bring much-needed change to their organization. And too often, there’s value in the implementation itself that’s not being monetized by the technology provider.
Recently, a colleague who works for an enterprise SaaS firm shared that he was involved in a deal where he flat out told sales leadership that if the customer was unwilling to fund the implementation to not take the deal. He saw that the client lacked viable internal resources and that deal would ultimately be unprofitable and would become an unmanageable burden.
Here’s the good news: The team presented the value that a paid implementation would bring, and without much push back the customer agreed to fund a third-party implementation partner. While the services revenue went to a partner, they did win the deal, strengthened relationships with a delivery partner, and did NOT fund a costly train wreck with an unprepared client.
The advice here is to either start charging for implementation or start building a viable partner ecosystem. Right away. Customer time to value and time to revenue will accelerate and your margins will increase. That’s welcome in any economy!
Respond to a Hiring Freeze with Cost-effective Automation and Better Planning
Baton has been helping customer success teams deliver value and revenue faster with fewer headcounts long before this latest economic downturn. We help software companies eliminate redundant tasks, manage more projects with fewer team members, and reduce onboarding and implementation times by more than 50%. In other words, we do what everyone now absolutely needs to do: more with less. Want us to walk you through how we do it?