The ability to adapt to changing circumstances is a key factor in whether businesses can weather challenging economic periods.
We’ve written many times about companies finding themselves in difficulties after continuing to pursue the same business strategy in the face of rapidly changing market conditions.
Some recognise the need to adapt, but then find their business structure is too rigid or siloed to implement change.
The ability to identify problems quickly and then rapidly adapt to work around them is termed ‘agility’, and it is gaining increased prominence as an important factor in determining which companies will survive the pandemic and the associated recession.
I recently read an article in Diginomica about how agility is the “new currency of business” according to a KPMG survey.
It explains how agile organisations are not only more likely to get through economic challenges like the pandemic, but even thrive.
What Is Agility?
Agility in business is an organisation’s ability to rapidly, continuously and systematically adapt and innovate with the goal of maintaining a competitive advantage.
In sales, it means continually finding new messages, better customers, new avenues for product market fit and new opportunities.
From a risk perspective, being agile means responding to new risks (Covid-19, Brexit, etc.) and putting new and better systems in place to manage uncertainty.
According to the Diginomica article, the key to creating an agile culture is accessible, good quality data because it supports a shared view of operations and powers informed decision-making.
It made me think about how Red Flag Alert is a great tool to help organisations become more agile in a number of different ways – from helping clients find new business opportunities to spotting emerging risks, our data helps companies to stay one step ahead.
In the next section, I’m going to highlight seven ways Red Flag Alert helps improve business agility.
1) Find New Opportunities
A key characteristic of an agile business is the ability to make informed decisions quickly.
Red Flag Alert enables you to set up sales triggers so you can target the right businesses at the right time.
Alerts can be set up to notify your team immediately when a company’s data changes in a way that makes them a prospect, meaning you can be the first to contact them and offer your services.
This means that if your sales strategy changes, you’ll be able to immediately begin reaching out to new customer segments, rather than going through a lengthy prospecting process.
For example, an insurance provider might use Red Flag Alert to monitor company growth, choosing to receive alerts when a business files its annual accounts. A business might be looking to adjust its insurance to reflect growth – accessing information that it has grown provides the insurance broker with a reason to get in touch.
2) Discover New Markets
Selling to customers across a broad range of sectors provides more opportunities to grow and protects businesses if there is a downturn in specific industries.
Using detailed customer segmentation means you give your company the agility to open new markets by zeroing in on new customer groups.
The first step is analysing the type of customer you already serve to help you build customer avatars. Companies can be segmented using a variety of Red Flag Alert data, from size and location to financial health or those with new directorships.
By identifying criteria that has a high correlation with sales, our data enables you to spot patterns and focus on only the best prospects. Once you have gained a clear understanding of your customer needs, you can create targeted marketing campaigns and strong sales pitches that offer the perfect solution.
3) Account Growth
Agile businesses don’t just adapt their sales strategies to reflect their own circumstances – they’ll also look at their customers’ changing situations and proactively offer new solutions that boost account revenue.
This is another area where Red Flag Alert’s data can help. Depending on your product, certain changes in the circumstances of your client, such as expansion into a new market or an increase in revenue, could present an opportunity.
For example, if you’re an energy broker and you receive an alert that one of your clients is expanding into a new area, you could get in touch to direct them towards a new plan.
On the other hand, if you notice that a client is struggling with liquidity you may be able to offer products to help ease their cash flow, such as invoice financing. Whatever the change, being aware of it early on can help you spot opportunities and take action early.
4) Better Messaging
Red Flag Alert’s data enables you to gain a clear understanding of your client before creating a sales pitch or presentation, meaning you can adapt your message to different buyers.
This gives you the flexibility to quickly hone in on customer pain when switching between customer types and position your product as the perfect solution.
For example, suppose one of your customer segments is fast-growing restaurant chains in good financial health and with £20m+ turnover. In that case, your marketing message could focus on how you can help to get them working at capacity quickly in new locations.
You may also decide to balance this by targeting more established chains with a greater turnover that would increase stability in your client base.
For these companies your messaging could highlight how you help them to maintain market share or attract the best talent.
5) Spot Emerging Risks
Agile organisations proactively monitor their market and client base for business risk and make decisions accordingly.
Red Flag Alert provides detailed financial health ratings that are supported by millions of data points which receive over 180,000 updates per day. This data is then put into context using complex algorithms that accurately assess the risk your customers present.
For example, if a CCJ of a certain size is usually a precursor to failure in a certain sector, our algorithms pick that up and give the company a health rating that takes this into account.
Alerts can be set up to notify you of changes to your clients’ financial health, allowing you to protect your own business from potentially damaging knock-on effects.
The result is that your business is continually monitoring, assessing and, where required, renegotiating your relationships with customers and proactively avoiding an unforeseen financial shock.
6) Avoid Wasting the Time of Your Sales Team
Most sales teams choose prospects based on fit and intent, i.e. those who fit their customer avatar and have high intent to buy their product in the near future.
Agile businesses recognise that although fit and intent are important, it’s also crucial to proactively assess a potential client’s risk and creditworthiness before you even make your initial approach.
It often takes a lot of time, money and energy to close a sale and if you win the contract only to find out the client can’t be onboarded because they have poor financial health then the loss can seriously impact profitability.
Using Red Flag Alert’s data to quickly pre-screen prospects means you can find clients who are financially healthy and meet your fit and intent criteria. Our data uses information such as revenues, up-to-date accounts and any charges on assets to provide a clear financial health rating so that you can be sure your prospects will pass credit checks.
7) Mitigate Onboarding Risk
A key aspect of business agility is knowing that the financial circumstances of economies, sectors and individual businesses can change rapidly.
You should, therefore, be monitoring for, and prepared to react to, any increase in the risk posed by clients at all stages of the customer journey.
Onboarding is critical amongst these, representing the final interaction before prospects become customers.
It is, therefore, vital to quickly identify clients that you trust and those that present more of a risk.
Red Flag Alert streamlines this process by enabling you to set clear criteria internally about the financially healthy businesses you want to work with or those you want to avoid. You can even choose to have fixed decisions based on the financial health ratings, saving you and your team valuable time.
Our data is updated in real time and includes information about SIC codes, VAT registration and creditor services data, meaning you’ll be the first to know of any changes in a client’s financial health – even during the onboarding process. This is particularly useful for instances where onboarding comes after the sale, as it helps you to remain agile and re-evaluate the risk the new client poses.