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Last week I had the opportunity to moderate a panel discussion with John True, Managing Partner at Cultivation Capital and Adam Weber, Co-founder of Emplify, an employee engagement company, around strategies executives need to take now to position their companies for a bounce back. 

Here are the key takeaways from that discussion.

How has the tone and topics of discussion of executive teams changed from Mid-March when there was so much confusion and to today, John? 

  • In early March it was about short-term decision making. Renegotiated supplier contracts, reviewing financial scenarios, A, B, or C stress tests, reviewing cost-cutting and trying to figure out the PPP loan process.

  • Today, most of those things are in the rearview mirror. Now it's about what execution moves do we make to best prepare ourselves for the existing conditions and future conditions. 

    • Good executing companies have come up with different communication cadences for working from home
    • They’ve improved the way they communicate on a daily basis with their employees
    • They’re redeploying resources consistently - from new sales activities to supporting existing customers. In Saas for every $1 spent it turns into $5- $7 in the long-term. So it makes sense to focus on existing customers, not to sell them additional products/services, but to understand how their customer’s situation has changed to figure out how to better serve them
    • Accelerating their product roadmaps

What does a successful employee/company communication cadence look like?

Now’s the time to over-communicate with your employees

  • All team meeting 1x a week - 45 mins
  • Daily standups by department - 15 mins
  • Executives meetings 2x weekly
  • 1:1s  -Daily 5 min. touch base by each manager with each of their employees

Successful Companies are Pivoting. How are the best companies doing that?

  • If their customers are in financial trouble they are responding with financially options
  • They are providing additionals service offerings
  • Providing services for free of a period of time
  • Leaning into product development and the product  road map. Adding features that improve customer experience during this time

What decisions are companies making now to position themselves for a Bounce Back?

  • Don’t spend a lot of time cold-call prospecting. The best companies are re-allocating those resources to serve inbound and highly qualified leads really well.
  • Allocating resources to their customers. Shifting the net-new sales team to support existing customers. Understand what you can do better to help your customers, including product road map. Hopefully, this will lead to better renewals. 
  • The best source for qualified leads is referrals. If you’ve invested in your customers you’ve earned the right to ask who else might use your help. 
  • Building relevant content and non- invasive prospecting activity
  • Change what a win looks like today. The best companies are changing their goals/wins to being much more attainable and short-term like weekly/monthly goals instead of quarterly. Setting up an environment that feels like we’re succeeding based on the hand we’ve been dealt so that the sales team will feel positive and more likely to be re-bound ready
  • You can’t afford to let your team sit static right now. You still have to keep momentum. 
  • If you’re still following your old playbook you’re going to lose
  • This is the time to innovate, get scrappy, and re-define what success looks like
  • When you have a win….Celebrate like you never have before! 

Leading during a crisis - Tips to succeed

  • Take care of yourself - If the leader isn’t in a mentally or physically healthy place they won’t perform as well. 
  • Trust the healthy habits that made you who you are
    • Exercise
    • Eat right
    • Get enough sleep
  • Spend some time each day unplugging from technology and processing what’s happening
  • Find a common mission everyone can rally around
    • “In a crisis, the way to unify people is to create a vision and make it really short term. We challenged ourselves and said how could we build a COVID specific tool, offer it free to the market and release it within 2 weeks. We’ve impacted 20,000 employees at this point.” -Adam
  • Over-communicate
    • “Our default in this time has been over-communication. We’ve found we’re so much more nimble when we’re meeting regularly.” - Adam
  • Lean into transparency and authenticity
    • “We’re leaning into the transparency side and authenticity. One of the top 3 things employees value is authentic leadership. So when they see in you a willingness to peel back the curtain on your decision-making process, will increase their willingness to follow.” - Adam
  • Remove, as much as possible, employees from feeling any burden from work
    • “I’m in process and learning as I go. There’s a balance between a calm and steady presence and educating your team to the reality of your business. What we don’t want to do is have our employees carry weight that is unnecessary for them to hold.” - Adam
  • Mentor and support new managers
    • “The #1 issue facing companies before this crisis were brand new managers who lacked soft skills to develop their team. Now they just got thrown into a work from home situation. They didn’t get better, now they are wreaking havoc in brand new ways on your organization.” - Adam

A new time requires new rules. Here are the new rules Adam and his co-founder put in place:

    • 3 rules during this time:
      • Good financial stewards of the business to bring our purpose to life in the long term 
      • Handle everyone in this business with authenticity and care
      • Courageously share the reality of our business

Both John and Adam had such wisdom to share during the 45 mins we shared. I hope you take time to listen to the entire discussion and that it provides you ideas, insights, and inspiration!

If I or anyone I know can be of help to you or your organization during this time, please reach out! We’re in this together.