“The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself”

“This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Those words, uttered by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his first inaugural address in 1932 as the country struggled to emerge from the Depression, stands as a microcosm of our economy today.  In the last two days, two CEO’s told me of deep fear for what the future might hold for their companies.

  • Will they have to lay off good employees?
  • Will customer marketing budgets be slashed further?
  • What they be able to keep cash flow up?

In my opinion, company leaders need to take a close look in a mirror.   They need to realize that, in reality, they have advantages today that they do not have in a booming economy:

  1. A company needs A players.  In a booming economy, A players all have jobs and are off the market.  Today, they are available.
  2. A company needs to gain market share. In a booming economy, competitors are strong and aggressive — hard to combat.  Today, they are weak and feeble.
  3. A company needs companies to buy.  In a booming economy, budgets are flush.  Today, budgets are tight, but the pains are greater than ever.  Customers will still buy, but the conversation has changed.

This calls for a new and fresh approach.   The thinking of the CEO needs to change.

In the interview with Jim Collins in the February 2, 2009 issue of Fortune, it was asked “But in a time of no credit and slowing demand, how does a company afford to bring people in?”

The famed management guru and author of Good to Great answered “(Hewlett-Packard’s answer) was ‘How can we afford not to?’  You have to make the wherewithal.  If you do not get those great people, you’re not thinking long term enough.  In our long term research…we find that great companies manage for the quarter-century.”

How does a company find the cash to pay A players?  Maybe sell some assets — like a corporate jet or the boss’s Range Rover.  Maybe bring the A player in as a short term consultant rather than a full-time employee.  Maybe outsource some existing services to free cash.  Maybe cut some salaries.  There are many ways to raise cash.  Go talk to your CFO and ask.

In my humble opinion, the questions and thinking need to change.  Instead of thinking of how to conserve cash and hold on, the leadership needs to be thinking “How can we use this downturn to seize a strong competitive advantage?  How can we find and recruit A players?  How can steal market share and drive out competitors?”

For companies looking for best practices in b2b lead generation who wish to improve the way they acquire new customers, Find New Customers is the place to go.  CSO Insights says companies need to improve the way they generate leads and implement processes for business to business lead generation.

Jeff Ogden, the Fearless Competitor, is a demand generation expert and sales leader, as well as the President of Find New Customers, a lead generation company, who helps businesses create lead generation campaigns and continually publishes the best lead generation ideas, so his readers can determine the best lead generation strategy to find new customers.  He can be reached at (516) 284-4930 or mailto:[email protected].

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2 responses to ““The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself”

  1. Very good read, Jeff. Pleased to be reminded of that wonderful quote from Collins about great companies that manage for the quarter-century. We can all use that quote for support. Thanks for sharing this piece. Keep writing.

  2. You hit a nail squarely in the head, Jeff. I’ve just posted about another such nail on my own blog. I’d welcome your thoughts there: http://timtrent.blogspot.com/2009/04/recession-requires-risk-not-selling.html

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