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Data That Delivers

July 30, 2020
Industry execs need to leverage data to survive and prosper in these uncertain economic times.

It has been a very strange year. 2020 got off to a pretty good start way back in January. But since then we have seen:

The COVID-19 pandemic become a leading cause of death in the United States in less than 100 days;

  • A complete collapse of oil prices;
  • Financial market instability;
  • Unemployment rates close to the Great Depression;
  • Stay-at-home orders;
  • Revenue losses of  90% or more in the airline, hotel, restaurant and entertainment sectors;
  • And the shutdown of the automotive manufacturing industry.

These grim realities, along with partisan media reporting and justifiable racial tension magnified by some occasionally biased police actions have the entire country set in an uneasy uncertainty.

Because of these and other factors, the underlying dynamics propelling the electrical economy are more complex today than they were a few short months ago. Market data is key to making complex strategic and tactical decisions in this environment.

As we saw in the latest Channel Marketing Group/ DISC Corp. market survey, some companies are starting to experience hesitant economic recovery. Yet for the industry as a whole, DISC’s current forecast is for our industry not to return to pre-pandemic revenue until 2023-2024.

How do you as a manager get there faster? Pressure to perform and bring in bottom-line results in today’s environment is intense, to say the least. Are you leveraging your business intelligence data (internal from your ERP and other systems) and combining it with external data to perform analytics?

Start by understanding your sales versus the market size to garner current market share. This can be as simple or as complex as you choose to make it. Markets expand and contract, and your company’s sales strategies should align with these movements.

Measure sales and margin over time against market data and see if you have a trend. You should break it down by region, territory, branch and salesperson. This analysis provides a map of not only performance but also territory alignment. To better understand your marketplace, you can take this to the next step and look at market size by verticals and industry segments. Here are some examples:

  • Construction — residential, commercial, industrial, buildings
  • Industrial — manufacturing and transportation/warehousing niches
  • Commercial/Institutional – campuses, malls, hospitals, media, etc.
  • Utility – wastewater, power and communications

Business restrictions caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus continue to impact our expectations for a return to prosperity. One thing is for sure: The dynamics of social and business interactions have fundamentally changed. The way we look at and measure business success must change as well.

Sales teams face unique challenges because the definition of a sales call has undergone profound changes. The most recent DISC Corp./CMG market survey found that sales and customer behavior is fundamentally shifting toward protectionism, with people fearing exposure to a potentially deadly virus with no current effective treatment or vaccine. What will the near-term effect be on years of relationship-based selling and the training we provide the next generation?

Gauging sales performance by merely looking at revenue, margin growth and activities listed on an expense report no longer tells the complete story. We need to be far more analytical, benchmarking against leading and trailing indicators. Understanding market share, along with measuring web-based sales presentations, e-mail send and open rates, phone meetings, marketing campaigns, lead generation,and new contacts should be a part of the sales manager’s effectiveness toolkit. These factors require some retraining as well as a data-based mindset. Those who are hyper-aware of managing targeted market penetration and are pursing it with dedication and persistence with data will be the ones who survive today and prosper tomorrow.              

To learn more about DISC’s electrical market data and forecasting services, contact Christian Sokoll, president at [email protected]/346-339-7528/