During a recent discussion with a prospective corporate sponsor, a very influential CEO shared that “these days, you can assume that EVERYONE is in play.” This guy would know.
Wow, what a profound observation!
Look around. Industry leaders who seemed firmly entrenched in their roles are becoming association Presidents. Previously very independent companies are quietly seeking affiliation with larger organizations. Regional CPA firms are launching new divisions by acquiring boutique consulting firms. Leaders of some family owned businesses who lost their retirement nest egg in 2008 and can no longer count on the next generation to want to take over are now contacting business brokers, considering mergers, and even weighing dissolution. Former football players are becoming Congressmen.
Everything being dynamic…in motion…is a symptom of this most recent recession’s extended period of uncertainty. But as confusing as these changes may seem, it is a very good sign. It means many people are tired of waiting. They are no longer hoping the government will magically bail them out. They are no longer defaulting to “just work harder” as the only possible strategy. They are no longer holding onto a pipe dream. These folks are getting on with it! YEAH!
Not all of the business model changes, consolidations, acquisitions, new divisions, and career shifts will work. But it is SO much better than staying stuck, waiting for someone else to do something, losing too much money, or becoming depressed.
There are several important implications to this shift in behavior…including how it impacts your sales force. Prospects may not be accepting your sales person’s calls and your buying cycle may be stretching. When the reasons for delays sound the same but your sales people can tell that they aren’t being told everything, they might be right. The prospective customers can’t tell your sales people that their companies may be sold. They can’t admit that their CEO is leaving the industry. They can’t reveal that they are in negotiations to become a division of a larger entity.
If you wonder if your prospects can’t be candid with your salespeople, it may be time for more executive-to-executive conversations. Or at least change your sales approach. Some firms (like outbound call centers that set real sales appointments for their customers) provide important services that can keep customers afloat during periods of uncertainty or flux. This may be the time to become more direct with stalling prospects rather than just wait for them to later tell you why they couldn’t talk more candidly.
Aldonna R. Ambler, CMC, CSP has earned the right to be called THE GROWTH STRATEGIST™. She has won over 2 dozen national and statewide “entrepreneur of the year” awards for the resilient growth of her international businesses across 4 recessions. Her midsized BtoB service, technology, and distribution clients get on…and then stay on…the published lists of the fastest growing privately held companies. All of her own service businesses (strategic planning, executive advisory, growth financing, radio show, speaking, search) help privately held midsized companies achieve accelerated growth with sustained profitability™. Ambler is in her 7th year hosting a weekly peer-to-peer-to-peer on line radio program at www.Business.VoiceAmerica.com and www.growthstrategistradioshow.com that features interviews with CEOs/Presidents of midsized companies (typically between $20 and 200 Mil/yr) sharing success tips about the growth strategy-of-the-week. Family owned businesses will be emphasized in 2011. Ambler can be reached toll free at 1-888-Aldonna or at Aldonna@AMBLER.com.
Aldonna R. Ambler, CMC, CSP has earned the right to be called The Growth Strategist®. She built a suite of companies that help privately held mid-sized companies in Achieving Accelerated Growth With Sustained Profitability® through opportunity and resource analysis, strategic planning, executive advisory services, growth financing and targeted search. She provides 40-50 strategic and keynote presentations each year and has done so for 30+ years. A multi-award winning entrepreneur, online talk show host and highly esteemed economic development advocate, Ambler continues to broaden her participation on corporate boards and serve as a growth financing intermediary for mid-sized businesses ($20-$200 million in revenue).