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The COVID-19 crisis is causing Sales, Customer Success, and other revenue-focused leaders to scramble like they never have before. Unfortunately, many executives find themselves reacting to the constant stream of challenges. In the process of dealing with these urgent things, the temptation may be to address them as best you can and move on to the next pressing item. However, if you scratch just one level below the surface, you’ll find that there are some challenges that may not be quite as obvious, but are just as pressing and vital.

In our conversations with TSIA member companies dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, certain best practices are beginning to emerge. This post is the first of a series called “The COVID-19 To-Do List for Revenue Leaders,” and will compile and present some of the top insights from TSIA researchers and members, as they deal with the problems of the moment, and look to emerge stronger on the other side.

A full “To-Do” List for Sales and Customer Success Leaders can be found here.

Immediate Needs That May Go Overlooked As You Rush from Crisis to Crisis

1. Give your people a purpose and help set their priorities.

Your employees are likely being inundated with information, and their normal filters and routines are shaken to the core. First, remember that work may not be the top thing on their minds. They are trying to sort through information on the virus and are worried about their loved ones.

They have to figure out when to get groceries and how to ration what they have. Parents are being blasted with emails from their childrens’ teachers and schools, and are trying to deal with lesson plans and assignment due dates. Brains are already stretched to the brink before anyone even checks their work inbox in the morning.

Therefore, make sure someone is telling your teams what is most important for them to do. Help them set priorities based on your centralized view of the challenges and opportunities at hand. If you don’t give them this direction, they may well sink into “reactive mode.”

Remember that they may not be able to get to everything, so try as best you can to help them understand what’s important and what can wait. Make sure they know where to escalate customer problems. Help them understand where to spend their time, and clear the way of administrative tasks as much as possible.

2. Coordinate messaging across all customer touchpoints.

At TSIA, we often use the term “touchpoint calculus” to illustrate the fact that your services professionals and customer success managers interact with your customers at a rate 5 to 15 times as often as your sales and marketing teams. Most companies, when thinking of coordinating their messaging around COVID-19, often focus on sales and marketing but don’t provide talking points to their support engineers or services technicians, who not only have many more interactions with customers, but often are also the first people customers call when they have a question or problem.

So, make sure to train your service and customer success professionals on your talking points and the key messages for your customers, just as you would your Sales teams. Understand that they may not have the same “people skills” as your Sales and Marketing teams, so keep it simple and clear, and make sure that they know where to send people if they have a sales-related question. 

Give them a clear path to route someone if they think the customer is in danger of not renewing or ending the relationship. Start by reading TSIA executive director Thomas Lah’s paper on corporate communications during the COVID-19 crisis. As we’ll address in future blogs in this series, building capabilities like this one will serve you well long after the COVID-19 crisis has passed.

3. Enable remote capabilities with an eye on the long term.

Giving your employees a laptop and setting up a Zoom or WebEx account isn’t developing a real capability. For excellent advice on how to work from home and help your teams be productive from home, read Thomas Lah’s piece on the topic.

This is one of the first areas where you’ll need to think about when it comes to your post-COVID-19 plan for going forward. Are you building out your mobile capabilities just to “get through it until we get back to normal,” or are you planning to build longer-lasting capabilities to do things remotely that you didn’t think you could? This is a time for experimentation and seeing what works, with the promise of a more cost-effective sales model on the other side. 

So, as you’re standing up your remote capabilities, make sure you’re documenting what’s working and what isn’t. Keep good notes on which of your messages connect with your customers and which ones fall flat when not being presented in person. This will serve you well on the back end.

4. Engage in contingency planning and support.

While it may not be a particularly pleasant thing to think about, and everyone hopes to stay healthy and productive, it’s probably unreasonable to assume that everyone on your team is going to avoid catching COVID-19 or caring for a loved one who falls ill. With over one million people affected by the virus globally, this crisis is likely to become more real for you very soon, if it hasn’t already.

You need to think about how you’ll manage your accounts if you suddenly find yourself short staffed. Make sure critical information is in your CRM, so another employee can take over an account with as little disruption and stress as possible. Understand where in the organization relationships with the customer are already in place, even if it’s in a different role than first comes to mind. 

For example, someone in Sales might have to fill in for an absent Customer Success team member, if needed. Prepare for the worst, and then if it doesn’t come to pass, you at least end up with matrixed touchpoints and better customer documentation that can only benefit your organization and customer relationships in the longer term.

TSIA is Here for You

We understand that our member companies, the technology industry, and the world at large have been impacted by COVID-19. Now, more than ever, we need to work together to get through these challenging times. TSIA is committed to providing visibility as quickly as possible into the changing industry trends and practices that come as a result of COVID-19. Visit our Rapid Research Response Initiative resource page for more information.

If you have any questions related to how COVID-19 is impacting your organization, we’re here to help.

This blog is taken from TSIA’s report, “The COVID-19 To-Do List for Revenue Leaders.” It is available for both TSIA members and non-members.

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Steve Frost

About Author Steve Frost

Steve Frost is the vice president and managing director of revenue research and advisory for TSIA. He also serves as TSIA's vice president of CRO Council research, dedicated to revenue optimization. Throughout his career, he has held various leadership and business development roles at companies like Google, Netscape, and Loudcloud, helping them define their go-to-market strategy and business development tactics. Steve is dedicated to helping technology organizations grow their services, subscription, and XaaS revenue by optimizing their practices for growth throughout the customer lifecycle.

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