Ask ten people where they think the direction of business is heading, and you will likely hear ten different answers. That’s to be expected during these uncertain times. But one thing today’s organizations share is the desire to renew operations and get back to business—and soon.
It’s been reported that more than 42.6 million Americans have filed for temporary unemployment benefits since the shutdown began. And according to Forbes, nearly half of all states have reported double-digit percent losses to the cash reserves they use to pay unemployment claims. Those numbers are likely to increase as time goes on.
Unlike the circumstances many companies faced during the urgent, initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to prepare a well-thought-out plan that prepares your company for structured and progressive stages of recovery.
“We found that taking a structured approach—divided into three distinct, yet often concurrent, tracks—helps guide and simplify decision-making,” explained members of the Salesforce COVID-19 Response Playbook Team, who identified those tracks as (1) Stabilize, (2) Reopen, and (3) Grow.
In this series, we will discuss each track suggested by the Salesforce COVID-19 Response Team and offer strategies for preparing your workplace for the “new normal” that is certain to impact work culture, leadership roles, team collaboration, customer relationships and marketing strategies, and business goals.
Let’s start with Track One: Stabilize.
In this initial stage, your leadership team needs to identify and mitigate short-term risks and facilitate ways to stabilize business operations. In other words, you gotta know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em. Here’s how:
1. Identify the current stage of your company.
Recently, the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he expects most, if not all, of the economy to be open by “later in the summer.” While the opinions of health officials, federal administration, and even state governments tend to vary, the overall approach to reopening your part of this world is to know where your business currently stands and how this present state is going to influence your decisions.
Simplus faced a unique challenge in the early stages of this pandemic. It was acquired by Infosys mere weeks before new guidelines were instituted, and Simplus didn’t complete the acquisition until the middle of March. During that time, the executive team spent hours discussing at length the challenges Simplus employees faced and how to best utilize combined resources, design strategies, and align initiatives until circumstances changed.
2. Determine how new compliance guidelines will affect your employee base.
When employees gradually return to work, they aren’t returning to work as they once knew it. This “new normal” is changing the look of the typical workday where safety is priority, but productivity is essential, too. That means you may need to walk away from traditional company models and culture—maybe even run. The biggest change? You guessed it. Remote work.
A recent Gartner survey found that out of the 317 CFOs and business finance leaders surveyed, 74 percent of them expect at least five percent of their workforce who previously worked in company offices will work from home permanently after the health crisis ends.
With remote work, especially, it’s important for your executive team to be transparent. Initiate discussions about new challenges and anticipated solutions and welcome feedback. Despite working under a remote work model, Simplus employees are a social bunch, with region-based activities scheduled regularly. Until now.
Now, it’s up to the management teams to reinforce leadership roles with virtual interviews, activities, company-wide meetings, one-on-one check-ins… all to ensure that team members feel valued, supported, and connected. This strategy will carry over to how companies will connect with the new customer as well.
3. Define the new buyer’s journey.
When today’s customers want (and expect) service and messaging seemingly made-to-order just for them, how can a business respond with a personal touch? Your company may need to consider digital transformation.
At a recent Infosys webinar called Preparing for the New World of Work, guest panelist Sanjay Poonen, COO at VMware, compared his travel schedule before this global health crisis to what he foresees happening in the new world of working. As someone who spent over half (50 to 60 percent) of his professional life traveling, he, and the rest of the leadership panel, foresee personal, physical connection will no longer be the primary focus of your sales team. Instead, companies are moving to automation and servitization to provide customized and efficient service. And sales teams are learning new ways to better collaborate with team members and build customer relationships through virtual technology.
“Properly designed and equipped, virtual selling channels can dramatically improve the coverage, control, and cost-effectiveness of your commercial model while offering buyers the speed of response and experiences they demand,” explained Forbes contributor Stephen Diorio. “From a technology perspective, the pressure to adapt to this new buying reality will accelerate the adoption of existing but grossly under-utilized technologies that offer the potential to multiply seller performance.”
Emerging technologies such as algorithmic selling, sales enablement, 5G communications, DTC channels, and even augmented reality were already impacting sales practices before the pandemic occurred and will likely continue to expand their reach.
The upcoming “new business normal” remains unpredictable. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared with a plan. Once you’ve identified the current stage and functionality of your company, the goal of the stabilizing track is for you to implement ways to protect your staff, upgrade new communication and support pathways, and discover new avenues to connect with valued customers.
Track One: Stabilize establishes the foundation on which you can build Track Two: Reopen, which we’ll discuss next time. Stay tuned and stay safe!