We’ve all heard the word the new buzzword, ‘pivot’, used to near nauseating levels over the last 12 months. Though, a definite upside of COVID is that it’s put a spotlight on how critical it is for businesses, universally, to be agile, particularly in a time of disruption.
This concept applies to all aspects of business: from operations, IT, customer engagement, internal and external stakeholder management, and of course, sales and marketing. ‘What we’ve always done’ has no bearing on ‘what needs to happen next’.
While perhaps confronting, the sooner the incumbent expires, the more progressive and ultimately successful business can become. Conversely, laggards beware: the ‘back to normal’ ship has sailed.
We are now in a new state of normal where goal posts will continuously shift. And to win in the current landscape, we need to be opportunistic, realistic, responsive and abandon any notion of expecting precedent to be an indicator for future success.
While it's an in vogue concept at present, ‘pivoting,’ is not new. Successful businesses, independently of sector and location, have universally applied this principle since the dawn of time. That’s how we innovate, evolve and respond to emerging and upcoming demands. Though different to its cousin, 'natural evolution', to ‘pivot’ is a more extreme, conscious play.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a ‘pivot’ is a ‘fixed point supporting something that turns or balances.’ As that relates to business, it’s ‘to change your opinions, statements, decisions, etc. so that they are different to what they were before.’
If we accept the ‘why,’ the natural next question is ‘how?’
A recent paper published in Forbes, ‘How to Pivot Successfully in Business,’ identifies that the ‘main goal of a pivot is to help a company improve revenue or survive in the market,’ though reiterates that ‘way you pivot your business can make all the difference.’
The paper outlines some best practice principles that are highly relevant to the mortgage broking sector. Here are some tips to get started:
Recognise the right time to pivot
It’s prudent to always have an ‘eyes wide open’ approach with a realistic barometer of the market, its movements, and where you fit into the landscape – and not being afraid to adapt accordingly. Key indicators that it’s the right time to pivot include if you can’t see material progress despite investing substantial money and resources, the company’s progress has plateaued, you’re losing traction, or your clients aren’t responding as expected.
Determine ‘new world’ goals
There is no point in pivoting if you compare your new business goals with your previous outcomes. Spend the time pinpointing which solution-based area is your strength, and which target market will most likely be receptive to your offering. Your Q1 sales analysis will give you the answers.
Realise the value of ‘less is more'
We’re in a time of sustained turbulence fused with increased competition, new ways of operating, and a seismic shift in client behaviours and expectations. It’s therefore more crucial than ever to be specific about your offering, focusing on a particular feature/ benefit, versus spruiking an entire solution - which is far more generic and by default, more complex for clients to understand. This won’t preclude you from ‘value-adding,’ but it will make your value proposition easier for your clients to digest your service proposition and importantly, prompt engagement.
Speak the right language
It sounds simple, but in order to speak the right language, you need to know who you’re speaking to. Nothing will cause your clients to tune out quicker than communications that don’t reflect their needs. In contrast, a highly targeted piece of communications that identifies individual demographics’ challenges or opportunities will have a far greater chance of piquing interest and driving engagement. Which leads us to the next point.
Pinpoint your client profile
Identify your various sub-markets and consider specifically which solutions they may benefit from. This strategy is critical to help future-proof your business beyond the ‘refinance hiatus.’ In the process, it’s worthwhile segmenting whether clients are self-employed and/ or have ABNs, as this is the opener to a host of alternative conversations (read opportunities)
Be a step ahead of your client’s problems
Most people are familiar with the adage of ‘know what your customer needs before they do.’ This is also closely aligned with ‘you only know what you know.’
A brokers’ value proposition is to plug the knowledge gap and forecast what solutions are appropriate for a clients’ current and emerging requirements – none, or of limited proportion, would openly be known or considered by the client directly. In this process, don’t assume that all clients are challenged at the moment. There’s a wave of buoyant and prosperous industries that may equally benefit from alternative debt structures and/ or business solutions.
Strategy needs to trump tactics. Always
Now is not the time to ‘suck it and see’ in the absence of strategy. The market is too fragmented and client expectations and behaviours have fundamentally shifted. While we’re all drained of time and resource, it’s wise to invest in developing a basic business plan to determine your firm’s path forward and corresponding milestones.
It doesn’t need to be ‘War and Peace,’ but it does need to be well thought out. We suggest conducting a top-level SWOT analysis (organisational strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) as well as identify your goals, sales targets, client profiles, acquisition and retention strategy. This should be completed prior to determining your tactics (i.e. how you’re going to reach your various client profiles). Conversely, you’re likely to have limited results if you jump straight into tactics without considering your strategy prior.
References: www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2020/07/03/how-to-pivot-successfully-in-business/?sh=58276e577316; https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/pivot
Nick Young is a results-driven specialist who has more than 20 years’ experience in the mortgage broking industry, and now heads Trail Homes: Australia’s most established and longest serving trail book purchaser.
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