Monthly Edit: Business Development and COVID-19: Adapting to Thrive

As an industry, consulting is often viewed as a discretionary expense. Hastily categorized as non-essential, our services are only correctly rebranded once business needs exceed the capabilities of current staff and clients reach out for us to drive value where others could not. That was before the pandemic.

Over the past many months, economic spending has declined globally, stock-piled reserves have withered away, and tough decisions are being made as businesses struggle to stay afloat in these “unprecedented” times. Of these tough decisions, external services spend could be viewed as one of the easier to cut, but don’t be fooled; while the desire to spend on consultants may have diminished, the need for doing so has not. Now more than ever, consultants represent a high value and ROI. We can help you objectively build a strong management team with a reliable supporting cast, strengthen core processes to reduce waste and unnecessary expense, and engage vetted strategies to simultaneously plan for current re-openings and inevitable future downturns.

Historically, consultants promoted niche expertise in core business functions of specific key industries and relied on referrals and a positive track record to drive growth. While that worked in an environment where spending was encouraged, it is a less effective approach during times of financial uncertainty and has left us asking ourselves how we can serve a market that has, in a sense, turned its back on consulting services. We’ve realized, as many of you have, that if we are to speak to this reshaped market, we must reshape our business development strategy in kind. Arguably, the most obvious approach is to set aside ego and work to meet potential clients where they are instead of waiting for them to come knocking. This method utilizes warm (or even cold) introductions and continual vetting of our broader network to drive engagement. Understandably, going down this sales path can be disheartening at times; statistically, there is a lower success rate here than with referrals. But, when done right, it can lead to new opportunities that would not have been found within the referral network alone. We’ve begun to find success in developing a target market that aligns with our core strengths and crafting directed messages with relevant proposals. Utilizing lead tracking software and social platforms while developing these new target markets has been valuable as well.

Another approach that we’ve begun to employ is reorganizing and rebranding our strengths. In COVID-times, our current selection of branded services wasn’t speaking directly to the most critical needs of our clients. By reorganizing our offerings, we’ve been able to launch a new service area called the Business Restart Incubator. As we transition into a “new normal”, businesses are unclear how to adapt and restart. Thus, we’ve created a suite of activities, processes, and planning – adapted for each individual application regardless of industry, size, or ownership structure – in a collaborative incubator with other companies, advisors, and experts. Built upon our collective wisdom, experience, and proven track record, SLKone and its partners have developed a simplified five-phase toolkit to assist organizations planning for and getting back on track.

This is the perfect time to consider tactical planning and increase operational preparedness. Due to the shock caused by recent events, businesses are understandably more focused on building financial security to weather future downturns. Being able to incorporate proper liquidity management and planning into your service offerings could give you that competitive edge in a post-COVID environment. Never forget that at the end of the day, cash is king. SLKone has proved this sentiment time and time again, by going into seemingly healthy and well-established businesses, only to uncover that they are on the brink of a potentially scary situation. Once these issues are identified, we craft bespoke solutions, implement business scenario planning tools, and revise broken supporting processes to revive the business. This positions our clients to be able to walk through uncertain times, head held high, knowing that if they trust in their vision, they’ll come out the other end of the tunnel ready to operate in the new light.

Times are uncertain, but that doesn’t mean your strategy has to be. SLKone is here to help; we know our tools and strategies work because we are using them ourselves to navigate a particularly tough time in the consulting industry. If your business is struggling to weather the current pandemic, we’d love to hear from you and would strongly encourage you to check out our restart incubator program.