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In the previous two articles in this series, we addressed the changes to sales and sales enablement that are required to be successful both during and beyond the Pandemic. In this third and final article, we will explore the third critical element of the puzzle – Strategic Focus.

Having effectively navigated the past year, companies are now faced with several key decisions to address the predicted “Bounce” in the global economy. This article will cover two primary elements:

  • Where to Focus
  • The Role of Partnerships, Acquisitions and Mergers

Where to Focus

Many small and medium businesses have been living at the extremes in terms of the impact of the Pandemic, experiencing either a significant reduction in demand or unprecedented growth. Both cases require a careful review of the evolving market dynamics as a baseline, with particular emphasis on understanding the factors that either sustained the company over the past year or created the unexpected growth.

With this understanding in place, it is time for a comprehensive review of the company strategy, where we must recognize that this transitional period we are entering is NOT the time to continue investments in marginal initiatives or pursue high-risk initiatives. Here is a simple checklist you can use to start the discussion:

  • Where is your brand awareness and perception the strongest – for which products and in what regions?
  • Are the markets or industries served considered essential for the medium to long term?
  • Are there solutions you offer where the competition has experienced meaningful setbacks?
  • In your most successful markets, do you have room for sustained growth?
  • Are you playing to your core strengths and capabilities?
  • If you have been experiencing strong demand as part of a successful pivot, will this demand continue as global supply chains renormalize?

The answers to these questions will help you create focus and provide a simple, understandable platform for continued success.

The Role of Partnerships, Acquisitions and Mergers

With the strategy clarified, partnerships, acquisitions and mergers should be a primary consideration as part of the execution, delivering a solution to a number of different situations:

  • To quickly build scale if your company is exposed to larger competitors
  • To provide a sustained capability to meet growth demands resulting from a successful pivot or the pending “Bounce”
  • To broaden your portfolio and offer a more comprehensive solution set to your customers as they look to simplify their businesses

As a simple targeting approach, look for:

  • Struggling competitors, particularly if they offer complementary products or services, or their brand has strong recognition
  • Organizations in adjacent markets that are also looking to build scale
  • Organizations with similar offerings that work in different geographies
  • Small organizations that have fully embraced the virtual customer experience, whether or not they currently work in your markets. These virtual capabilities are highly adaptable and the technology expertise alone will add significant value.

With the candidates identified, partnerships represent the lowest risk approach, allowing both organizations to explore the potential with limited investment. Should the partnership prove successful, the discussion can then proceed towards a merger or acquisition. This “partner first” approach is most appropriate when exploring adjacent markets or extended geographical coverage.

For the struggling competitor or expertise scenarios listed above, an acquisition is the more natural starting point, compressing the time for the integration and alignment. While riskier, the financial approach and conditions for the acquisition can go a long way to mitigating the risk, making this an equally viable option.

In Closing

I trust that you have found this series of articles valuable and I would like to invite you to contact me at ncooper@osborne-group.com to explore these concepts further. The transition period as we move towards the “Bounce” is the perfect time to explore all your options.