This wasn’t how 2020 was supposed to go.
A global pandemic and a worldwide recession have completely upset everyone’s carefully laid plans. Every business on earth, from the smallest startup to the biggest conglomerate, now has to regroup. We’re all feeling the stress, not just on a business level but on a personal one, too, as anxiety and isolation become part of the new normal.
So how do you help employees cope when the entire world has been upended? And what comes after COVID? How do businesses mitigate the damage, put themselves back together, and even make changes for the better in the face of colossal systemic change?
These are questions we’ve set out to answer with Get Ready. We’re discussing our own experiences and talking to other SaaS companies to find out what they’re doing to prepare for life after quarantine. We’re sharing that information in interviews, webinars, and here in this article, to, hopefully, give you some ideas for how you can Adapt, Plan, and Train your company to be even stronger post-COVID.
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In this turbulent time, maintaining a healthy sales pipeline is incredibly important, yet more challenging than ever. With supply and demand all of a sudden twisting in new and unexpected ways, sales teams have had to prepare themselves for dramatic market changes. As a result, a lot of sales goals that were set pre-COVID are going out the window, and teams are being forced to rethink the way they approach potential clients.
Many sales teams already know they won’t be reaching their targets this year. So instead of doubling down on them, they are tweaking their sales tactics to prioritize relationship-building.
Companies like Drift are finding new ways to add value for prospective customers. The conversational marketing platform is harnessing the power of empathy and relationship building over pushing sales. They’re sending more personalized emails instead of mass mailings, and they’re sending personal videos to top clients.
Another way to support potential customers is by offering free or discounted services during this tough time.
At 360Learning, we’re offering extended free trials and our playbook for asynchronous training to help newly remote companies. We’re also offering companies that have been severely impacted by COVID a full customer experience and any company that needs to get their new learning program in motion quickly a rapid 7-day deployment.
Similarly, Twilio, a cloud-based contact center platform is offering 10,000 free hours use of their service per month to businesses currently impacted by COVID.
Animated-video company Vyond, has expanded their content marketing strategy to target a wider range of businesses and individuals. Some industries aren't buying right now (as to be expected), but most companies need online learning and marketing videos now more than ever. A lot of companies are still buying, and Vyond's expanded content strategy ensures they reach them.
Big blockbuster deals might not be on the menu right now, but these small wins and personal touchpoints can help sales teams cultivate relationships that, hopefully, will evolve and grow in a profitable way in the future. These touchpoints can be as simple as social media follow-ups, email outreach after a sale, or even subtle branding within a text message.
While COVID-19 has eliminated some avenues of growth, it has also opened up new opportunities for enterprising marketers.
Gong, which provides revenue intelligence via call recordings, has reframed its major selling points based on recent events. Historically, they have emphasized their utility as a training tool for onboarding new reps. Unfortunately, with hiring freezes occurring across the board, easy onboarding isn’t a particularly compelling argument right now.
To stay relevant and continue making sales, Gong had to reframe their marketing strategy to focus on another use case of their product: they help retain visibility in remote sales teams. Sales teams everywhere are trying to adapt to working remotely right now, so this is a much more persuasive tactic.
Other companies are developing entirely new offerings and applications for their technology. Truework, a work-history verification tool, created an add-on to help HR teams manage employees affected by COVID-19. The tool tracks when infected employees can return to work and, at the same time, keeps their health information confidential.
This additional feature boosts the utility of their product and increases the urgency for HR teams that are interested in managing the health and safety needs of their employees.
Traditional L&D departments are used to having a long runway to conduct training needs assessments and create content. With our current situation changing so quickly, organizations need the flexibility to pivot strategy in order to confront new challenges.
For many, this means swapping the typical top-down learning management strategy in favor of a more collaborative one. Lauren Fernandez, senior manager of learning and development at Flexport, talked us through the company’s approach, which is a hybrid of centralized and decentralized learning.
At Flexport, each department has a designated functional leader who determines the needs for their department and sets learning goals. The centralized L&D department provides support in the form of LMS training and analytics, guidelines, standards, and best practices. This strategy lets them ensure the quality of educational programs for the company’s 2,000 employees while also letting departments pivot based on each unit’s priorities and challenges.
Flexibility is also the key to success for the L&D department at MCI Group, which provides event services for both live and digital events. With live events taking a back seat for the foreseeable future, the company has had to quickly ramp up their resources for supporting online events.
In an interview, Avinash Chandarana, Global L&D director at MCI Group, explained how his department is reassessing priorities to best support employees in developing the skills they need to work and produce online events remotely. To do this, Chandarana and his staff are asking what competencies and skills employees need to make this transition.
As the department rethinks the ways that it can add the most value to the company at the moment, they don’t necessarily have time to create entirely new courses and curriculums. To facilitate a faster pivot, they are curating and refreshing their older content to shine a light on existing resources. They are able to dip into their micro-learning archives to curate the right resources to help employees right now.
The sudden transition to working remotely has been a huge adjustment for companies and employees.
Management has had to figure out the logistics of operating a distributed team while also supporting employees who are grappling with stress, uncertainty, and psychological isolation. Nobody is sure how long we’ll have to do this, but it could be many months before we’re together in a crowded office again.
Smart companies are helping their teams feel more comfortable with working remotely. Shopify is offering each of its 5,000 employees a $1,000 stipend to help them set up a comfortable home office. They also allowed employees to take home any equipment, such as monitors or keyboards, they needed to work productively at home. Twilio offered employees money to buy themselves a home desk and any work-from-home equipment.
Many companies are taking measures to understand the additional pressures their staff are under and are offering increased flexibility and psychological support. Here at 360Learning, and at many other companies we talked to, HR teams are creating online social activities, such as virtual yoga classes and pizza parties, to compensate for the lost face time between employees and, hopefully, to diminish the psychological isolation of lockdown.
Some of these measures may seem like temporary stopgaps, but supporting employees through difficult times is essential to creating long-term loyalty and maintaining a cohesive culture even when employees can no longer eat lunch together or grab a beer after work.
We don’t know exactly what the future will look like post-COVID-19. There are so many things that we can’t control right now. The only thing we can do is to Get Ready.
We want to help you get your business prepared through Get Ready’s three pillars of Adapt, Learn, and Train.
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This may not be how you expected your year to turn out, but together, we can come out of 2020 stronger, better, and smarter. Our movement is about adopting a proactive mindset, where we don’t just react to new challenges but also embrace them and ultimately become a stronger company.