We live in uncertain times, research shows that 70 - 95% of the workforce are now working remotely. Our prospects and customers, I guarantee will other things on their mind than your products and services. I have to elderly parents and I’m for sure that I will lose both of them if they get hit with Covid-19, I cannot take for granted that anything will be in the shops and my partner and I are in self isolation. But the show must go on.
So what as a business do we need to do?
The first thing we recommend you do is get a cross functional management team together and you need to understand the business impacts. Does the delivery teams have what they need to carry on? I’ve heard of companies working with the clients to keep projects running. For example, borrowing laptops. I'm hearing of customers and suppliers working together, where in the past they would have sat at other sides of the table.
As a business you need to work out how you are going to communicate, the plan. I’m guessing that many companies will have empowered their teams with conference call software. We also need to understand that there is a “digital divide” out there, just pushing it out may not mean that you will get the take up. I’m aware of a company offering basic Zoom, Teams and RingCentral training.
From a sales point of view, you must reset the forecast, the budget and expectations. I recommend a deal triage, where you work out which deals you can close. This may require additional discussions with the client to get them through the “last mile” of deal closure.
Some of the forecast will have gone “soft” and will be deferred, that is a fact of life. But we need to understand how you will nurture this and not just put to a loss. Things will pick back up, we just we don’t know when. The official advice here in the UK is we could be like this for six months. We suggest you create a deal desk and work through each line on your forecast, in effect you need a deal review, per deal.
This requires you to reset the revenue plan and the budget.
You also need to re-look at the marketing plan. Every campaign that was running before Covid-19 needs to stop, it’s just not relevant and it’s turning your business into a laughing stock as well as showing that you don’t have much empathy with your clients.
This means you need to reevaluate the top-of-the funnel (ToFu) plan. You need a complete new marketing plan and you need to decide what to do with the budget that was going to be spent on events and conferences, email and cold calling. Where are you going to re-allocate it?
I'm already getting cold outreach emails which shows completely a lack of sensitivity. People are dying and people's loved ones are dying and you are pitching to me? Really?
Where are your leads going to come from in this Covid-19 world?
Everybody is turning to use digital techniques and content marketing. Have you empowered your staff and sales teams to do this? The reasons you didn’t do this in the past still exist. What happens if somebody makes a mistake? What are the rules of social? How can you pull your community together on social? What can you do on social to support closing the current deals as well as what can you do on social to create new deals? It is the answers to this questions that will keep the lights on and decide if you will live or die as a business.
The new plan must also have new segmentation, are you selling to industries that are about to go bankrupt? Can you reallocate that resource? With no face-to-face meetings, what will you do about outside sales, inside sales and channel? Do you have the right talent mix? Will your team be already selling in this new digital world? Do you need to re-allocate accounts? Do you need to reallocate the talent mix and channel?
And finally what are the metrics, and territory to give you the coverage? You will need to build a complete new go-to-market and what are the metrics and measures for this?
Finally, people are scared as a leader you should not panic. Bad decisions are made when you panic. And lead with empathy.
The coronavirus is the greatest management challenge most of us have ever faced, bigger even than the 2008 financial crisis. While the human and economic costs of this crisis are enormous, for businesses there is one positive difference: while the financial crisis had an uneven and gradual trajectory, this tragedy should have four specific phases. Each one has its own distinctive uncertainties and business strategy imperatives.