Looking ahead, multiple industries are gearing up for an economic slowdown in 2020. Thankfully, a recession is not likely in 2020, despite fears of ongoing trade conflict. Still, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) slowed some in 2019. And in some sectors, sales growth has shown signs of decline. The Baird Industrial Distribution Survey, conducted each quarter in partnership with MDM, showed flattened pricing and a growing trend of cutting inventory in the industrial sector.
Concerns over the economy isn’t the only pressure facing businesses. The growing pressures of increased competition are weighing on many. The instinct may be to withdraw and tighten purse strings in the face of an uncertain economic future. This might seem like the best way to stay protected if the market remains soft.
While an economic downturn may be cause for concern, companies have meaningful ways to prepare for and weather a decline, no matter the size.
One way to prepare your business for a downturn – or even worse, a recession – is to continue to invest in technology. When companies invest strategically in the right technology and service offerings, they are more likely to come out ahead after the market bounces back.
This may involve putting more support behind better operational or sales systems. It might have to do with embracing analytics so you can enhance your understanding of what’s driving your business. And, of course, a downturn is no time to let up on tools that make it easier to serve your customer base. You should actually focus on providing better service than ever.
Here are some reasons why investing in technology can benefit your business in an economic downturn:
It improves internal efficiencies.
Rather than cut staff or services, this is the time to turn attention toward internal processes. How can you serve your customers more efficiently with customer self-service options (chatbots and e-commerce), improved order efficiencies and remote customer service? What challenges have you been facing with sales and operations, and in what ways can you tackle those? Can you identify and improve inefficiencies by embracing a data-driven culture?
It improves sales team productivity.
Investing in technology can keep your sales team productive and creative, offering opportunities to dive into analytics and experiment with new techniques for selling. For example, Microsoft Relationship Sales combines the power of Dynamics 365 for Sales with LinkedIn Sales Navigator, to give salespeople critical data on 500 million professionals, which helps them spend more time engaged in activities that could lead directly to increased sales – rather than devoting huge chunks of time tracking down the best contacts and qualifying leads.
What’s more, investing in your team during a recession can be a smart way to retain your best employees and limit staff turnover, which can be a positive indication of a solid workplace when things pick back up.
Consider revisiting goals and processes for both internal and field sales reps. Take some time to learn what challenges they face and how they might take more initiative in their roles, and enable them to take greater ownership of the data through productivity apps, ERP or other cloud-based tools.
It solidifies customer relationships.
According to a recent article in MDM, “too many firms reduce their marketing expenditures during a recession only to find that when the market rebounds they have lost contact with key customers.” Even if you feel stretched, remember not to lose focus on the customer. Keep a firm grasp on technologies that offer insights into customer information, and don’t skimp on customer communication tools or customer-facing tech. Invest in a strong CRM, nurture existing relationships, and generate targeted leads to ensure that your customer base will stay strong through the economic ups and downs.
Many companies are hesitant to adapt newer technologies, whether that’s e-commerce or an ERP platform. Come out ahead after a downturn, rather than scrambling to catch up, with cloud-based Microsoft Dynamic 365, which can support data-driven decision making so you can feel confident in your next steps.