When the global lockdown was announced, people instantly panicked. At the time, it seemed like the end of the world had been declared. Of course, nearly two months later, we have all adapted and tried to carry on despite the radical impact that the shutdown has had on our daily lives. It is important to remember that not everyone has had the same experience during lockdown; while some businesses are booming, others have been hit hard. In fact, there is nothing like a pandemic to show you just how essential your business is.
Now, as certain governments start to lift lockdown measures, there is only one thing people can think about—getting back to “normal” life. While no-one doubts that it will take time for business as usual to happen, we need to be forward-thinking and start planning our efforts to restructure after the shutdown ends.
Here are some essentials to remember when rebuilding your business in the months to come.
Thank Your Customers
Canceled contracts, delayed payments, and uncertainty in sales forecasting have all been par for the course over the past several weeks but thanking the customers that have stuck by you in uncertain times is a must. Good customer service and client satisfaction is your best marketing tool, and now more than ever, it is important to make sure the customers that stayed with you feel appreciated. Word of mouth marketing accounts for more new business than any other method out there, so how you handle the crisis will say a lot to your customers about what you stand for. When clients share the same values as the companies they do business with, they are loyal and stick with those brands through thick and thin. Showing appreciation by sending out personalized thank you messages to the customers who stayed with you can help ensure that they will continue to do so in the months to come, and recommend you to their friends and colleagues in turn.
Update your Marketing Messages
Empathy has been the name of the game during COVID-19. It is important that your marketing messages recognize what your buyer personas are going through—you cannot ignore the situation, nor make light of the fact that people are suffering. As rebuilding occurs, your messaging should continue in this vein and not be quick to revert to highly sales-y jargon. People are looking for the light at the end of the tunnel, so orienting your messaging to give your prospects hope is likely to resonate with them. Finding the value that your solution can bring your audience in the aftermath of the lockdown will help them see past their immediate situation and start projecting into the future.
Help your Sales Reps
Now is not the time to cut your marketing budget—on the contrary! Making sure that your sales reps have the tools they need to nurture prospects is critical as sales cycles may lengthen. The pandemic has caused many industry sectors to freeze budgets across the board, so it’s wise to reorient your sales outreach to target industries that have not been negatively impacted by the shutdown. (Of course, this may imply adapting your offer if you typically focus on a particular vertical). Having good content to promote your software business both on and offline will help improve visibility for your brand and should help attract inbound leads that your sales reps can follow-up. Having a continuous flow of sales qualified opportunities is key but building such a pipeline takes time and energy. Getting your sales team up to speed on the Best Practices of Social Selling will help give them new ways to engage prospects since physical meetings will be entirely out of the question for some time to come.
Making sure you are not overspending is essential for long-term business stability. Reviewing unnecessary expenditures can help streamline your business to make sure no dollar goes to waste. Outsourcing some areas of your business to help cut overhead costs can be a highly lucrative choice and one that may also be a strategic necessity. When deciding whether or not outsourcing is a good idea, you should weigh the pros and cons carefully. Benefits to outsourcing can include freeing up your resources to work on more important tasks, faster delivery times, the ability to tap into resources that you may not have in-house or that would be difficult to hire and train internally. Determining the areas of your business that would lend themselves to outsourcing is the first step; finding experts in those fields and getting a quote for a scope of work is the next. Not everyone can or wants to outsource, but when you are rebuilding after a crisis, it may an option worth considering.
Keep Employees Working from Home
While some employees are itching to get back to the office, it is unlikely that everyone will be able to do so if social distancing measures are to be maintained for the foreseeable future. Google, Facebook, and Twitter have all announced that their workers can continue to work from home for the remainder of 2020; if your team has ensured business continuity by working from home, you should allow them to do as well. It’s not easy to adapt to work from home environments, especially when they last, but ensuring the health and well-being of your employees needs to take top priority even after the lockdown is over.
If your business has suffered from the lockdown, it may also be time to have a look at how you can change your business model to make it more sustainable. Diversification, automation, and adaptation are all key areas to explore for a business that has lost considerably because of the shutdown. When the pandemic passes, we will all have learned a big lesson—we are more vulnerable than we would like to admit. Protecting ourselves against future outbreaks by making our businesses more resilient needs to be our guiding light when rebuilding.