Horst Schulze, the former Ritz-Carlton chief, during a 2008 interview said, “I [will] not accept the explanation of a recession negatively affecting the business.”
So often, during tough times, CEOs mindlessly cut everything: training, marketing, R&D, sales travel, and so on. This is often counter-productive in the medium term: impacting future sales through lack of product, poor customer experience, and so on.
Yes, careful attention to costs is necessary, but, as Tom Peters says, you need to become “Top-Line Hypermanic,” looking at everything to drive sales. Where are your competitors selling? What’s driving their sales? How can you compete effectively? Are your customers getting the best service/experience and how involved are you?
Sometimes you will need to cut prices or add more value to get the deal, and accept a lower margin. But always bear in mind two things: cash flow and lifetime value of customer. Watch the first carefully and keep the second front-of-mind so you can ride out the rough times and set yourself up for longer-term prosperity.
At times like this, CEOs need to be deeply involved with all aspects of customer experience, product development and sales, to be leading from the front.