According to the Mayan calendar, the world is ending in December. That could definitely put a crimp in your sales and marketing plan.
Even if the world survives, though, many other potential disasters could affect your selling.
One expert cautions that the once-predictable business cycle has become highly disrupted. In recent decades, sales and marketing plans had to take into account (in no particular order) Y2K, 9/11, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Asian financial crisis, swine flu, hurricane Katrina, multiple tsunamis, mad cow disease, Sarbanes-Oxley Act, U.S. housing crash, and triple-digit fluctuations in energy and raw materials prices.
What other disasters, natural or otherwise, lie in store for sales and marketing professionals?
"Because volatility has become the norm, future scenarios must be considered, debriefed, and planned for," says business strategist Marc Emmer. He advises sales and marketing leaders to engage in scenario-planning, so that an organization can attempt to predict future events and anticipate new markets for products and services.
According to Emmer's book "Intended Consequences," here are 10 scenarios that could occur in the next decade or two A critical question: How would you adjust your sales and marketing plan to account for these and other major events?
1. Higher national debt. The U.S. government takes on even higher levels of debt (as high has 100 percent of GNP by 2019), or even defaults. Runaway interest rates and the declining U.S. dollar lead to a short-term spike in energy prices.
2. Energy revolution. Leading oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia will shift resources to solar power, thereby leveraging the extreme climate to produce clean, low-cost, and sustainable energy in the long term.
3. Water crisis. Drought and a global fresh water shortage are rampant in developed and undeveloped countries alike. As a result, water will be the currency of the next decade.
4. Food pestilence. A significant food-borne illness kills thousands of people and threatens the food supply.
5. Less surgery. Technological advances in medicine will dramatically reduce the number of invasive surgeries. Stem-cell research will facilitate the natural replacement of teeth and organ tissue.
6. No paper money. Counterfeiting and emerging payment technologies lead to a cashless society.
7. Investment crisis. The failure of the Social Security and Medicare systems will put more pressure on the Baby Boom generation to redirect their investments, potentially straining global markets and liquidity.
8. Smarter roads. The U.S. will build smart roads and grids that control the flow of traffic, identify bridge failures, and make other adjustments to the nation's transportation infrastructure.
9. Investor revolt. Shareholder contempt will lead to significant changes in corporate tax law and governance. Government agencies are reorganized to provide much stricter oversight.
10. Mega-taxes. The wealthy will face much higher taxes, with marginal rates reach percent.
OK, so that list doesn't exactly make for light reading. But it's also food for thought. Emmer says every business should assess potential threats and have a contingency plan. Clearly, it's never a bad idea in sales and marketing to have a plan B, C, or even Z.
"It is beyond comprehension that Countrywide, IndyMac, and other lenders did not plan for the possibility of a collapse of the U.S. housing market, that airlines did not prepare for volatile oil prices, or that automobile manufacturers were not prepared for a spike in demand for fuel-efficient cars," Emmer adds. "Converging factors can bring about change quickly."
Perhaps Mel Brooks summed it up best. As the theme song from his 1970 movie "The Twelve Chairs" says, "Hope for the best! Expect the worst!"
Image courtesy of Flickr user Anthony Citrano