Visable 360
The B2B magazine for digital sales
Visable 360
The B2B magazine for digital sales
Basics19. December 2023

Pandemic, war and inflation: the B2B learnings from crises

Enterprises have to get used to the development of crises, which come about due to volatile and unpredictable global developments on the markets. Which is why it is better to be prepared for exceptional situations with good crisis management and to react quickly to them. 

Crises pose challenges daily

German B2B enterprises are currently under a lot of pressure. Hardly has the Covid pandemic been halfway overcome, have the war in the Ukraine and the conflict in the Gaza Strip between Israel and the Hamas terror organisation rattled international markets. On top of this comes an inflation that continues to be significant, as well as regulatory challenges and wide-reaching changes for achieving international and national sustainability goals.

The negative impacts on supply chains, production and sales are evident. They show just how vulnerable both internal and external processes frequently are in the B2B business – processes which have seemed to be robust to date. And little of this will change in more peaceful times – due mainly to the volatile demands alone from rapidly progressing digitalisation. In the wake of this, the effects from the likewise rapidly advancing strides being made in artificial intelligence can hardly be estimated.  

Which insights can enterprises gain from these situations? Or in other words, a bit over the top: the crisis mode is becoming your daily companion – making agility and fast reactions more important than ever. Farsighted planning and, at the same time, the flexibility to address short-term changes are the name of the game. The most important means to achieving this is something which is responsible for the fast-changing situation: digitalisation.

It can help to survive times of crisis and be stronger as a result. After all, digitalisation opens up the opportunities and solutions that enterprises of all size and industry will need even more in future.


The advantages of good crisis management

The lesson from the recent past: enterprises should be prepared at all times for far-reaching complications, which are of no fault of their own. The requires prudent crisis management, which has to be so individual and balanced that you can, on the one hand, recognise the dangers in advance and, on the other hand, react, but not too quickly. Good crisis management has shown to provide the following advantages:

  • It enables structured and agile reactions.
  • It is suitable for various different situations.
  • It provides transparency in times of distress.
  • It prepares employees for crises.
  • It reinforces resiliency.
  • It ensures trust within and outside the company.
  • It avoids financial losses.
  • It prevents damages to your image.
  • It defines routines for important procedures.
  • It supports marketing and crisis communication.
  • It helps in the follow-up to a crisis.
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Recommendations for taking action in an emergency situation

To counteract an emergency situation, enterprises must first be aware of it. This makes it important to be able to identify an upcoming or existing crisis. To be prepared, management should select critical indicators for this and integrate these into an early warning system. If these indicators set of a signal, the situation is to be canvassed and analysed.

In the next step is the dialogue with the individual departments. For instance, employees can be prepared by going through crisis simulations and further training. This turns reactionary handling into a routine and lowers any in-house friction, which could lead to financial losses.

This is followed up by having a detailed status meeting with the external B2B stakeholders. This is particularly urgent, in order to understand the situation and the current expectations of the business partners who are active in the same environment and therefore also affected by the crisis in their own way. Here, it is about forecasting short-term trends and needs based on data. To do so, an eye has to be kept on the entire market at all times. After all, the competition may change and new competitors appear.

The basic goal of communication with stakeholders: the development of a joint strategy and a timeline, the coordination of important processes, and the definition of who is responsible for what. In such a case, it is helpful to have a digital customer relationship management (CRM) system in place, which collects and handles all relevant customer and process data. Ideally, it features interfaces to the IT of all stakeholders.

From the analysis of the information generated, recommendations to the B2B marketing team for taking action can be developed. This is even easier the sooner a CRM system is implemented. Then a digital crisis management procedure can be set up based on data and experiences – one which delivers at least a blueprint for various scenarios that can been customised and implemented quickly, with the customer in mind, to react to concrete developments. 

For example, the basis could be previously formulated communication rules and key messages, which, in turn, serve as a basis for public statements and customer information. A digital community management system is ideal for this purpose – particularly for communication on social media channels. The communication must focus on the problems and the target group’s expectations, with the aim to retain their trust and convey your own competence.

During a crisis, the situation must be permanently reviewed and the reaction to it adapted accordingly if needed. Especially important is taking stock of a crisis you have endured. This means an extensive and strategic follow-up must take place. In the process, you should review how well you weathered the situation and where future potential for improvement lies.

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