Last month, we talked about the challenges presented by the unprecedented events of 2020, particularly in regard to strategic planning, goal-setting, and business growth—and the resistance to doing any of those things right now.
Today I want to continue that discussion and drill a little deeper into the nuts and bolts of the typical business planning process. Specifically, what impact this “new normal”—there’s that phrase again—has on the metrics and other quantifiable aspects of our business.
Consider the case of Major League Baseball. Due to COVID-19, the 2020 season was delayed, then reduced to less than half of its normal schedule, followed by a revamped playoff and championship format. But for a sport whose fans follow statistics so closely, previous standards of excellence went out the window, and new metrics for success had to be created.
So it may go for YOUR business. If you use data to drive your decision-making process (which you should), the past year has most likely thrown it askew. But your first task should be to confirm that; was 2020 just an aberration, or is it a new baseline? Will you be able to resume “business as usual” once the restrictions ease? Or do some of these changes appear to be permanent? Your forecasting may need to be two-fold and take BOTH of these possibilities into account.
And if business has changed, what new metrics may you need to consider working into your algorithms? How did your client ROI shift? Are your salespeople spending more time on prospecting? Or less? And with what results? Are there different measures for working in a virtual world? How do they affect your goals and your bottom line?
One good thing about the digital world—there are ample ways to document and measure productivity and performance. Do you have the staff (or training) you need to get the most out of this enhanced data source? Is there new software that could help? Did the pandemic play havoc with your CRM? Are your workarounds actually better? What changes might be needed?
Take steps to optimize your technological resources. If your systems have features you’ve never explored or fully implemented, now’s the time to check them out—they may be helpful in navigating that irritating “new normal.” As we mentioned last month, an investment in IT right now may be a good investment.
And even though you may have access to an array of new and different data sets within the sales and management functions, one thing to remember is: a fancy dashboard doesn’t do anyone any good if nobody’s watching.
Remember the highway patrol officer’s first question once you’ve been pulled over? “Do you realize how fast you were going?” Well, you may well be asked “Do you know how much you spent on that project?” The answer to both questions starts with watching your dashboard.
We’re doing business differently, and your sales goals and strategies may need to be redefined, or at least re-evaluated. The days of meeting a prospective client over a cup of coffee may be on hold for a while (unless you’ve truly mastered the art of speaking clearly through a face mask.)
That’s why a fresh look at your performance metrics through a 2020 lens may be in order—so let’s recap the key questions:
- Is 2020 an aberration or a new baseline?
- How has it affected your measurable standards?
- Are you getting what you need from your IT resources?
- Do you have ready access to your digital dashboard?
- Do you use it?
The upshot of all this is that running the numbers in the post-pandemic world may generate some results that are vastly different from what you’re used to.
And that’s the (new) bottom line.