7 Steps to B2B Strategic Planning in the “New Normal”

7 Steps to B2B Strategic Planning in the “New Normal” 1024 538 C-Suite Network

Without a doubt, 2020 has been the most challenging and stressful year any SME leader has had to endure. However, you are still not out of the woods yet. You have to think about how you will move your business forward in the “next normal” which is now looking to be volatile and uncertain times.

To not only survive but thrive in this new environment, it is vital that you undertake the seven steps of strategic planning in this “new Normal.” While these steps are applicable for all business owners, I will be framing this discussion for my fellow SME leaders operating in the Businesss-to-Business (B2B) context.

Step 1: Talk to Your Clients

Your clients endured a lot of stress and change over the past several months. It is critical to have meaningful conversations with the decision-makers within your key clients. Whether it be via phone, video or Face-to-Face, have discovery meetings with them. The purpose of these discussions is not to sell but rather to gain an understanding of key questions such as:

  1. Where is their business at now?
  2. What has changed within their business?
  3. What are now their key priorities?
  4. Where are they headed?

Gaining insights to these areas will provide you with a clear direction as to how best to deliver value to your clients which will enable you to retain them and potentially identify additional revenue opportunities.

Step 2: Shorten the Planning Cycle

Despite the volatile and uncertain environment we are in, it is still important to be planning for your business, looking forward for the next 12-16 months. However, given these current conditions, your business must be flexible and adaptable. Therefore, you should review and “reset” your business plans every 90 days to determine if your assumptions about the way forward are still valid and then modify them accordingly.

Step 3: Establish Innovation Teams

These should be cross-functional teams that are focused on business innovation. This means that the team is looking for improvements and/or new introductions that can be made across your business.

There are five types of Business Innovation that should be considered:

  • product innovation
  • service innovation
  • process innovation
  • marketing innovation
  • organisational innovation

To kickstart your business recovery and business growth, you will likely need to undertake more than 1 type of innovation. You can identify opportunities to innovate by “listening” to the trends, developments and needs within the industry and markets in which you operate.

Step 4: Do a Value Chain Review

This should also be conducted by a cross-functional team which examines the following:

  • What you deliver: e.g. products, services, advice.
  • How you deliver: e.g. service levels, channels, fulfilment.
  • How you promote and engage e.g. marketing, sales.
  • Two key questions should be core areas of focus for your value chain review:

What are the needs and priorities of your business buyers?

Are there opportunities to improve?

Be sure to integrate these learnings into your business and account planning.

Step 5: Conduct Scenario Analysis

Based on the market conditions as well as customer requirements, identify the different types of scenarios that may exist for your business, how it would respond and the potential impacts.

Step 6: Establish Your Metrics

Determine the measures of success that you will use to evaluate the strategies and initiatives your SME will be undertaking.

Step 7: Execute, Measure, and Communicate

Execute your prioritised strategies and actions. Examine the outcomes achieved and determine:

  • What you did well?
  • Areas for improvement.
  • Communicate learnings with your employees and clients.
  • Mobilize your teams and start putting these steps into action to get your SME not only surviving but thriving in this “new norm”.