As thought leaders on interim management, every quarter we look ahead at what businesses need and apply thought-provoking insights from incredible interim business leaders, each with their own perspective. For the fourth quarter, here are expert insights from Walt Donzila on Business Development to help you advance your goals in Q4 and into 2022.
Looking back on the first three quarters of 2021, what are some key takeaways for you?
The most important takeaway of 2021 so far is the clear understanding that the world has been changed forever by this pandemic and there will be no quick, simple solutions to the problems the business world now faces. Combining our supply chain and employment problems with out-of-control government spending and social upheaval, we have seen an unprecedented rate of change that purports to continue into 2022 and beyond.
This situation will require a paradigm shift in thinking if we are to survive and prosper in the changed environment. The good news is that there is now ample opportunity to make these changes and set a course of action to prosper in coming years. One specific shift would be towards better risk modeling and management. Few earlier risk models accounted for a worldwide pandemic or the changes we have seen in social mores. Another shift would be back to using people to solve problems, instead of an over-reliance on technology.
We also must be more aware of the personal issues people now face because of the pandemic. These issues affect how people can work for their employers, and how our client’s employees will procure the products and services we seek to sell. Companies with broadly experienced leadership will address these challenges and weather the storm far better than those whose leaders are solely focused on financial or technical solutions.
From a talent perspective, what should companies be focused on (and why)?
To manage these unprecedented challenges, businesses need to employ leadership that is experienced at dealing with change and who have managed through prior crises, as opposed to leadership with specific technical ability who have little experience dealing with personnel or client challenges.
This means employing a far higher percentage of older workers with multi-vertical experience, particularly in executive roles. The current craze of bringing in young MBAs who have not been through difficult times and who have minimal experience dealing with people issues must change.
Fortunately, there is a vast, underutilized talent pool of experienced individuals who are available to work full-time, on contract, or to provide interim leadership that can be easily accessed. Also, these older warriors are vital to supplying training and mentoring to the younger generation who will be tomorrow’s leaders. Sadly, mentoring of managers and executives is something that has been missing for too long from too many companies, and we are now witnessing the problems created by ignoring such important training. Yet this problem can now be rapidly addressed and resolved for a minimal cost.
For Q4, what strategies or tactics are you recommending to your clients to finish the year strong? What should they be doing to set themselves up to be successful in 2022?
Great technology (e.g., Zoom meetings) has helped provide some solutions to our changed operating environment, but great technology did not prevent our crisis; and we’ve learned that we cannot rely too heavily on digital marketing, AI, or blockchain to improve our bottom lines. Not everyone’s products and services can be sold on Amazon to Millennials! Going forward, effective sales and marketing will need to combine technology with a deeper understanding of client/customer issues by developing and maintaining the human contact that has been declining in recent years.
Companies will have to focus on improving client relationships and customer experience enhancement strategies, while integrating the technical solutions where they make sense. We must lead with people-helping-people strategies, not data mining algorithms and CRMs that replace our sales and marketing executives. Companies must devote more time to discovering their clients’ needs in the post-COVID world, and to adapting their products and services to address those needs.
Future success is also dependent on all levels of management being involved in understanding a client’s challenges, and they can be redirected to support the marketing and sales efforts. The recent trend of expecting inexperienced and minimally trained salespeople to significantly expand revenue streams must be discarded in favor of the reality of “it takes a village” to close complex deals that will address a customer’s needs and allow organizations to prosper financially. Fortunately, the knowledge of how to make this happen is available and waiting to be implemented!
About Walt Donzila
Walt Donzila is a proven sales executive and business leader with demonstrated success in building both large and small companies, and in revitalizing weak sales organizations. He is experienced in both established and groundbreaking markets growing accounts, market share and revenue from the ground up. Walt’s strengths include hiring, training, coaching, and developing sales teams, understanding sales compensation structures, use of CRM systems, rebranding activities, and effectively integrating sales management with corporate management.