Words matter! We use words to understand and ultimately control our world. Many companies are looking to the expertise of strategists and forecasters to help them navigate the post-COVID waters ahead. These experts use two words that figure prominently in their vocabulary and thinking: “evolution” and “trend.”

These are strange times. As an optimist looking for a glimmer of hope, I compulsively read about what will happen when this crisis is all over.

Many economists predict a sharp upturn in business activity, the upturn being steep as the downturn was. On the far end of the scale, a few predict a global depression that will make the Great Depression seem puny.

A common theme that I hear is that “things will never be the same again.”

The act of exchanging goods or services for something of value (AKA a sale) is as old as time itself. And yet, who could argue that the art of the sale is changing at a dizzying rate? Organisations are transforming the way they sell to try and keep pace with the demands of their clients, who likewise are changing the way they buy. But as the old saying goes: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

A well-established, prestigious sports club nestled somewhere in the idyllic countryside seems like a foolproof business model. That is, until its leadership team noticed a steady decline in membership numbers and lower levels of overall engagement from its resident members. It could be safely assumed that they had rested on their laurels for some time, and its CEO, desperate to reverse the downturn, decided that the solution was to become more ‘customer-driven.’

The rise in ‘customer power’ over the last few years cannot have escaped many people’s attention. This exalted status for customers is no accident.  Rather, it comes from a hard-headed financial view: namely, when all is said and done, the customer pays the bills.