Steve Sullivan

How to break through 2024’s state of corporate inertia, fuelled in the UK and US by imminent government elections.

Steve Sullivan, Strategy Lead

Last week I sat with a former client who said that the average sales cycle for them to sell their SaaS product has increased from 3 to 9 months. This reflects a general trend we have detected in conversation after conversation with both clients and partners. Across the board, we are finding that decisions are slowing, the criteria used within organisations to arrive at decisions are being changed mid-process and apparently settled courses of action get delayed deferred or de-railed by new initiatives.

So, why is this? Does it matter? And if it does, what can you do about?

Expect Delays

Lots of businesses – perhaps especially their customer-facing operations – have gone through a torrid 4 or 5 years of near-constant change. The pandemic, mass home-working, the ‘mass resignation’, surging inflation, supply chain disruption and war, both near and far from home, have all served to create massive disruption and demand rapid responses and decision making. However, this sort of forced decision-making and change is draining, both organisationally and at an individual level.

So perhaps it’s no surprise that organisations are less confident about their abilities to identify the right questions and make the right decisions about them. Uncertainty – fuelled in the UK and US by imminent elections – continues and now feels like a constant for all businesses. At the same time, genuinely profound challenges need to be addressed as organisations face the type of fundamental questions that just weren’t on the corporate agenda a few years ago:

  • What will the real impact of AI be – and can we prosper from it?
  • Is our business model tenable as we enter further into the climate emergency?
  • Will our current customer experience approach and operational model be fit for purpose if we genuinely embrace support people with vulnerabilities?
  • How can we exploit automation and granular customer insight if we can’t retain staff and deliver the customer service basics?

Maybe it’s no wonder the capacity and appetite to do so seems to be waning.

Delays may be fatal

Does delay matter? Well, you can argue that profound and existential decisions shouldn’t be rushed. Certainly, an ill-thought-out response to a developing challenge might be costly. But at a point when the pace of competitive challenge is quickening, unnecessary and unplanned delays just sap business confidence, revenue and profitability. Research conducted with senior decision makers showed that 89% believe that organisations taking too long to make decisions risk getting left behind (Orgvue Research).

What’s to be done?

When organisations are becoming slow and indecisive it might seem like there’s nothing individuals – even those in powerful positions – can do. However, there is scope to improve clarity about the decisions to be addressed, the basis on which to make them and your ability to deliver on them:

1) Open things up – rapid decision making won’t help if the range of choices is restricted or inappropriate. We need to understand the underlying challenge – be that a business difficulty or a new opportunity – and then frame the choices to be made. To do so, it may well help to open up that process. Get input from colleagues – at all levels – partners, suppliers and even through observing your rivals. There’s no shame in emulating smart people!

2) Define the decision-making process – once you are confident that you understand where your priorities lie, and the decisions required – about products, people, technology, investments or partnerships – then be very clear about how those decisions will be made. Who will be in the room, what are ranked considerations to be taken into account, what criteria will be used to make decisions – and measure the success of their implementation and effects.

3) Get some help from your friends – you – and your customers – know more about your organisation than anyone else. But getting third-party support and insights from trusted partners can be invaluable in:

  • Crystalising your key business challenges (or describing them to a wider internal audience of stakeholders)
  • Helping you assess options and possibilities, including the providers of services and technology that will be needed
  • Building the assessment and measurement criteria you will need to frame, make and deliver key decisions

Where does Contact Centre Panel fit in?

We work with scores of clients and hundreds of partners every year, helping them make and carry out decisions that are fundamental to their organisational performance. We don’t have all the answers (or questions), but we would love to help understand the frustrations and delays you might be experiencing. Odds are, we have come across a similar scenario or challenge before – or know someone who has.

Let’s have chat and see if we can get things moving again. It could be your best decision of 2024 so far!