What Might Happen vs. What's Actually Going to Happen

I don’t know if you’ve ever attended a Meet the Firms event—it’s similar to a career fair but specific for the accounting field. Colleges and universities hold them to help graduating students make connections with hiring firms. When I was at The University of Southern Mississippi, the process consisted of waiting in boring long lines, crowds of people, and praying that I got to talk to the firms I was interested in.

Fast forward to last fall when I helped the HORNE recruiting team at the 2015 Southern Miss Meet the Firms. I was amazed at the transformation and vision behind the HORNE recruiting process.

They had designed an interactive booth that modeled the company’s culture. They showed prospective employees what it’s like to work at HORNE and demonstrated the firm’s commitment to its ideals. They used bright colors, video screens and team members from different service lines within the firm. More importantly, we told the HORNE story, which is tried and true. The tools we used made it easy for prospects to envision themselves working in our firm as well as made the long line worth their while.

We were a hit. We had large groups of students interested in HORNE. Representatives from other firms dropped by to take pictures of our booth. The coordinator of the event has stayed in touch, and told me last week she wanted to give us more room this year. Our new approach resonated not only with the prospective students but also with the university. The traditional model and idea of a career fair was modified and presented in a manner that was relevant to the students and empowered them to envision their future at HORNE, even while they were waiting to talk to a team member. 

I think a similar approach is necessary in the consumer products industry. Have you ever made a decision based on something you predicted to happen? Not made a change because the process wasn’t broken? Perhaps it’s time to think about predicting the trends that likely and will affect the changing sales environment to ensure your business is able to adapt to remain competitive in the marketplace.

Predicting or anticipating the needs of consumers is not a new concept.  What’s important is to have a company that actively practices forward thinking and comprehends the benefits that can be obtained from this thought process.  Products change at an unprecedented and rapid pace; it’s essential for companies to begin and continuously evaluate soft and hard trends to try and predict their customers’ needs, so that they are not left behind like Blackberry and Blockbuster were when the iPhone and Redbox came along.

The evaluation process begins by segregating what might happen from what will actually happen.

Soft trends are those that tend to fall in the category that I like to call the worry wart.  What if? Then this? But maybe this? It could? It might not? Should it?  These trends entail an extreme amount of speculation or assumptions that can essentially be altered and can be associated with somewhat of a high risk.

Due to prior results and statistics, HORNE could have anticipated that the team members at Meet the Firms would express their passion for the firm and the culture as well as tell the HORNE story, which is how I personally fell in love with the firm.  This was a proven method that was successful, and it could have been assumed to work effectively again.  What if all team members were tied up and not available to catch every interested person that stopped by? This process has always worked; why change it?  Everyone else will just have a table, right? The worry wart could continue.

Hard trends are those that cannot be altered, and they are based on dependable data as well as associated with low risk.  It is a fact that technology is more prevalent in the generation today; therefore, it would be no surprise that an interactive booth with a video screen would attract and engage university age students when the other option was a long line. 

Utilizing the knowledge of the contrasting trends to predict and plan the future of your company can turn your planning process upside down; it enables you to make decisions based on what you actually know will, without a doubt, happen in the future.  Furthermore, it gives you the ability to direct and control the future, from the soft trend point of view, to create greater profitability. 


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Topics: Trends, Customer Service

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