The unprecedented times in which we find ourselves today demand that SMEs face challenges head-on, armed with the right information and tools to adapt and thrive in the future. With so much at stake, it’s imperative to know exactly how the SME landscape is unfolding, and to be fighting-fit to weather the storms of disruption.

The Standard Bank SME Summit, hosted by business growth expert and CEO of Aurik Pavlo Phitidis, is an online series which aims to provide SME owners with insights into the latest industry intelligence and strategies as well as practical tips on how to transform businesses to become more resilient and relevant despite the current uncertain times.

The last event focused on what action is required to reset your business to win in the gaps and opportunities created by change. This event – part three of the series – highlighted the opportunities in crisis and how to channel this into rebuilding your business during this phase.

Phitidis pointed out that as much as crises can threaten our well-being, ambitions, dreams and hopeful expectations, they provide a profound opportunity for personal and business advantage. “The reason is simple: crises mean change,” he said. “Assess what’s changed temporarily, permanently and fundamentally across customers, collaborators, capabilities, competitors and conditions. Whether you have a product or service, customer engagement and how you service those customers will make all the difference when rebuilding your business.”

A panel of business leaders including Robyn Zinman, CEO of OptiSmile Advanced Dentistry; Naiema Abrahams, group MD of Freightmore; Saskia Hill, CEO and owner of MCS Debt Recovery and Connect BPS; and Sunshine Hlamalani, the co-founder of advertising agency Cheri Yase Kasi, provided insights from their own businesses.

The first cog of any business is marketing. Customers are the most valuable element of any business. Critically important is how the business engages with these customers and provides a good experience. During the Covid-19 pandemic the challenge for businesses selling a service rather than a product, is how to market it. For Hill the solution was a visual and highly engaging video.

It’s impossible to be all things to all people, pointed out Phitidis. Understand who your market is and solve their particular problems. When you are marketing a business it’s less about the product or service than it is about the lived reality of your customer. Different groups of customers need to be marketed to in different ways.

The marketing function then needs to be aligned with the second cog which is sales. However, before selling to customers they need to feel heard and understood. For Zinman, technology plays a critical role in the sales process. Businesses need to ensure that there is no expectation gap. Selling is not about pushing a product or service but about creating a sales engagement process which helps customers understand what they will experience before the sale has even been made.

Both the previous cogs then need to be aligned with the third and final cog which is operations. Delivering on the expectations created during marketing and the promise made in the sales process is the need for efficient operations. At the same time, building relationships with clients is critical.

Get the entire process right and the business will benefit from referrals from satisfied clients. Expertise will help to set you apart.

To re-watch part three, click here

Keep an eye out for an invitation to part four of the series on 22 September at 09:30am

The next Standard Bank SME Summit in partnership with Business Day event will focus on re-igniting businesses for the future.