Pivot on this, Covid-19

by Grant Robertson

It’s no secret that I hate the word ‘pivot’. It’s been churned out in every business blog and article I’ve read over the last three weeks, and I was already over it on day one.

Why?

Because it’s setting an expectation that ‘pivoting’ is the way forward for those businesses impacted by Covid-19. In my opinion, if you have the tools, solutions, applications and teams in place in your business to adjust and adapt in a disruptive marketplace, you don’t need to ‘pivot’.

It’s just business-as-usual.

If you can’t change quickly, you’re not in business

The very nature of business is the ability to adapt to change.

We have mature products, we have new products, and we look for new opportunities. And we do it all the time. All that Covid-19 has forced upon us (and I don’t mean to minimise the impact on those who have lost jobs and futures, that’s not what this blog is about) is to change more quickly.

Let me explain. Most businesses focus on a list of perhaps five things to do at any given time. For example, managing our customers better, finalising a new plant opening in China, getting the new distribution centre in West Australia up and running, looking at our business systems because we’re not sure they’re going to support where we’re going. And, yes, finding new markets.

Well that list has now contracted to one. Finding new markets. That’s not a ‘pivotal’ moment, it’s business-as-usual but with a much shorter and focussed to-do list.

Easier said than done, you might say. But let me go back to this earlier point: if you have the tools, solutions, applications and teams in place in your business to adjust and adapt in a disruptive marketplace, you don’t need to ‘pivot’.

Has your technology got your back?

To find new markets, you need to be where your new potential customers are. And if you’ve not invested in your web presence and ecommerce capabilities, and taken advantage of their - need I say, seamless - integration to your ERP, then it’s time you did.

Now, a little bit of a sales spiel here. I hold NetSuite up as a shining light when it comes to this. NetSuite’s strength is that it’s genuinely one system. The ERP back end, CRM, marketing engine and web presence are all in one system. There’s just one data set, not plugged in to anything else. (Which is an amazing thing that nobody else has this by the way!).

While you may have a web presence, is it an extension – an add on? Does it share the same dataset as your sales-funnel charged CRM, case management (so you can manage the post-sale experience) and backend financials? Or is that on your to-do list too?

When you can use what you already have, without needing to buy more, then you can adapt. And fast. You can drive sales to new markets seamlessly – and virtually immediately - because you already have the technology to support your efforts.

And even if there are no opportunities right at this moment, while the world still reels from the impact of Covid-19, it’s the critical time to get a head start on the rest.

It’s survival of the smartest

Every time we go through recessions or downturns, it’s the well-run, well-prepared and forward-thinking businesses that emerge stronger than before. Leaner maybe, and with perhaps a renewed business focus, but still in a better position than most. These businesses don’t really think about here and now, that’s operational, and can be weathered. It’s the strategy behind the ‘what’s next’ that determines who survives, and in what shape.

Long term, I believe that a focus on the front-end sales funnel is key. However, to stay in business for the next six months you have to 1. retain your own customers, 2. acquire customers from your competitors, 3. find new marketplaces and 4. do more with the business systems you have.  

Having the right business application allows you to rapidly change and adapt in a disruptive market (which some may call ‘pivoting’ but as we’ve established, I believe is just ‘same sh*t, different day’). Without parting with cash you’d rather be holding on to right now, or not having confidence in a return on investment.

And if your solution is nimble, flexible and affordable, with a low cost of ownership, (like NetSuite) you’re all the better equipped to embrace and define the new business-as-usual, today, and whenever the next disruptive event hits.

As for pivot. Stick it.

Grant Robertson

Director NetSuite and Corporate Performance Management, Fusion5

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