Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gather Market Intelligence in Q4

Quick comment on something I have been suggesting to my companies since the financial crisis unfolded. Q4 2008 may be one of of the most uncertain time periods, in terms of customer demand forecasting, that I have experienced since Q4 2001. So how should management teams cope with this really unpleasant fact? My advice is to institute a data gathering process immediately. Start polling customers (existing and potential) and rigorously rolling up and evaluating your findings. The office of the CFO or Marketing Department is probably the right group within the company to be aggregating this information. Look at this information every week. Be sure to track how expected customer spending patterns are changing from week to week. As far as 2009 goes, I would recommend building your sales (and spending forecasts) on a quarter by quarter basis. Q1 2009 (and possibly Q2) could be a particulary selling environment. 2009 operating plans will be finalized in November and December. Most of those budgets will restrict all discretionaly capital spending until later in the year.

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