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December 2008

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The Revenue Orchard
Hope you had a great Thanksgiving holiday!

Our newsletter is back - new and hopefully improved thanks to one of my favorite SaaS products - Constant Contact.  Tell us what you think!

A friend in St. Petersburg, Russia recently emailed asking whether reports by the Russian press of the "collapse of the American empire" had any merit.   (This while the Russian stock market was down 80% and closed for days.)

I assured her that the U.S. and our economy would recover, just as we have before. That's a good reminder to all of us here, who might in the gloom of the daily news forget to plan for the growth that will inevitably follow.
Plan for the Recovery
It it too soon to think about an economic upswing?  Not if you consider that your decisions during a recession have a lot to do with how (and if!) you benefit from the recovery.  As with previous downturns, many companies will falter.  Others will find opportunity.  The latter will plan beyond the gloom, and take a different approach to short-term necessities like cost cutting or re-orgs.   A few things you might do differently if you look past the recession:
  • Make all the changes you need, but stay true to your company's values. Your reputation and brand have to endure beyond the recession - don't compromise them when in a pinch.  
  • Keep the needs of valuable existing customers in sharp focus so that any efficiency improvements (read: cuts) in customer service don't also slash customer loyalty.
  • Consider how and what you communicate to employees as you make tough decisions.  Uncertainty and internal politics will destroy productivity and loyalty, and your best resources will jump ship when things pick up again.  Over-communicate, and find ways to preserve the culture even if you have to cut the perks.
  • If you're the big power in your supply chain, don't drive your partners and suppliers out of business with heavy-handed negotiating.  You still need strong and committed channels.
  • Slashing budgets evenly across all initiatives and priorities simply ensures you get nothing done well. Instead, reduce the number of initiatives.  Narrow in on the goals that strengthen you both during and after the recession, and re-focus tightly around these objectives.  
As you make the changes to weather the recession, consider what you'll need in order to flourish in the recovery. The Shirman Group has helped companies prioritize among competing initiatives to find the ones that lead to long-term growth.  Contact us to see how we can help you plan for the recovery.
Notes from Silicon Valley Open Doors
I was very kindly invited to attend the Silicon Valley Open Doors (SVOD) technology investment conference.  The event brings together entrepreneurs, investors, and assorted curious technophiles for inspiring talks and panel discussions, and a contest of start-up pitches. 

The Eastern European and US start-ups that presented had some great new ideas, from very sophisticated bio-device sensing and nanoscopy, to video search and hosting.  Finding and keeping track of information were popular themes among the presenters.  Kindle with its TabUp.com site, Relenta, Omnisen, and GentleWizard all showed personal productivity and project management solutions.  Swooggie, Winton, and P-Navigator presented improvements to information search and discovery.  The third big area was health and biotech. SEA Medical and nanoBioSciences both showed drug delivery innovations. Eccentex is helping healthcare providers automate, while Hippocrates is helping them reach more patients.

While the ideas were innovative, the presentations were generally poor.  Technologists have a hard time defining addressable markets, finding practical ways to reach buyers, and articulating tangible and credible value propositions.  Then again, those challenges aren't unique to start-ups.  Read about how we helped a bigger company, CA Wily Technology, get real about the value they deliver to customers.
I hope our newsletter provides some insights and sparks new ideas.  If so, please forward this letter to colleagues.  Send us your comments and questions - we love hearing from you!

Be Prosperous. Be Grateful. Be Generous
Happy Holidays,
Lilia Shirman
In This Issue
Plan for the Recovery
Notes from SVOD
Quick Links
Are your
sales tools
a waste?

Before you start another writing marathon for next year's sales kick-off, get a Sales Channel Check-up to find out what your sales reps use, what they ignore, and what tools and skills they really need at every step in the sales process.
  Food for Thought
On where to focus your attention:

"When crossing the street, look at the cars, not at the street light.  A streetlight has never run over anyone."

- Russian Proverb
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