We are living through a truly unique point in time. The impact of COVID-19 over a short two month period has thrown the global economy into complete peril and created unparalleled uncertainty and ambiguity. The core questions out of every leader, employee, coach, student, and teacher’s mouth are:
- When will this be over?
- What will things be like when this is over?
It Doesn’t Matter Who You Are
Regardless of age, gender, nationality, economic status, race, or color, there is a universal need for some semblance of structure and order. A structure that does not exist today. Macro statistical data is changing hourly, making the concept of a 1-year or even a 3-year plan seem impossible at worst, highly unlikely at best. If we cannot forecast a week out, planning 3 years becomes more difficult as well. But now more than ever, planning is critical, and also, completely possible. Companies that benchmarked well against their peers in SBI’s Revenue Growth Maturity Model have a programmatic, multi-year view aligned to strategy. But even they need to consider certain factors prior to moving forward.
Things to Consider Prior to Building a 3-Year Plan
Building a plan in a highly fluid environment is a challenge. However, the concept of fluid markets and building a plan that reflects the changes in order to guide the business is not a unique undertaking. Planning is foundational; it should be done annually and iterated on throughout the year. Heading into this planning cycle, dynamics are different, and there has been a significant change. Before writing the 3-year plan, consider some fundamental principles:
- Customer demand drivers have changed drastically
- Market messaging and content strategy will need to evolve
- Historically strong markets may be facing suppressed or lost demand
- Revised coverage models are required to align to acquisition costs
- Metrics and KPIs require revision
- Planning needs to be agile
Change in Customer Demand Drivers
What caused a customer to demand a product historically may be different today. The price of a product or service may now matter less than safety. Predicted rises in Nationalism may emphasize where a product is manufactured. Soliciting input from customers will be imperative to navigate the change. Reallocate Marketing Budget to better connect with customers and gain clarity into what the 3-year plan should look like.
Change in Messaging and Content
The market messaging of yesterday may have changed. Not only may the trigger events causing a prospect to engage in a demand cycle be different, but also the use cases, personas, approval cycles, as well as customer touchpoints and the communication cadence have all changed dramatically. What worked yesterday may be obsolete today. For instance, a current SBI client focused on the video delivery space has identified an entirely new market opportunity based on business continuity. Within two weeks, they repositioned their market messaging and content to be CISO focused instead of CMO focused.
Market and Account Prioritization
One of the bigger discussion topics over the past two months is what industries and markets will be impacted either positively or negatively by the pandemic. In the matter of a business that is highly dependent on Travel and Hospitality within Southern Europe, now may be a good time to reprioritize other markets and customers. Read How Companies Are Using Data for insights on how to modify market and account prioritization. A key consideration of a 3-year plan needs to have a clear understanding of what customers and prospects are likely to spend for service. Chances are the list has changed.
Alignment of Resources to Customer Acquisition Cost
One of the first things to happen for the majority of B2B sales organizations is that all field sellers have now become virtual sellers. One of the next dynamics was a clear understanding that the Customer Success function would be the critical component of growth. Both of these factors are direct inputs in Customer Acquisition Costs and Lifetime Value. The most costly GTM resources have traditionally been the field sales force. With a new emphasis on virtual selling and customer retention in the current environment, the market coverage construct has changed. The CAC to LTV relationship will need to be optimized. These are core computations for building out the longer-term plan.
Tracking the Right KPIs
Yesterday’s data is meaningless. Closure rates, pipeline weightings, and trend analysis have become obsolete. What happened yesterday has little impact on the new normal. Get organized on the Critical Few metrics that make sense to monitor going forward. Ignore the noise and get focused on what matters over the next 3 years.
A core component of the Revenue Growth Maturity Model is having an iterative planning process. How often is the executive team coming together to discuss and pivot? One clear lesson from the past 60 days is that things can change quickly. Consider the interlock and communication cadence as core principles in the 3-year plan.
Things Are Different
Today’s world is undeniably different than yesterday’s. Following yesterday’s process will not work. That includes how planning is handled, and the questions asked entering a planning cycle. Invest time now into how demand has changed and how customers want to interact with your business. For more information, contact an SBI expert to build an iterative go-forward plan.