Key Factors for Leading in a Global Pandemic from a First Time CEO

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First time CEO Jen Grant shares her insights and recommendations on how to drive the productivity level during the lockdown.

The impact of COVID-19 has been extensive and exhaustive. Seemingly overnight the way in which businesses operate and people live their everyday lives have changed on a global scale. As a former CMO newly appointed to CEO just days before the shelter in place began, it has been an incredible journey navigating this new normal. It’s increasingly apparent that companies across industries need to completely shift their goals, adjust their expectations, and change the very tactics that got them to where they are.

While challenges and change are inevitable, I’ve found it’s crucial that leaders focus on a few key areas including keeping the employees happy, keeping customers first, and being flexible and open to changing business plans.

Team Morale

The health and well-being of your team should come first during this stressful, uncertain time.

Meet daily for a short check-in on various aspects of the business. Even if you don’t have a lot to discuss, still insist everyone joins, just for a few minutes.

Seeing everyone’s face, remembering that you’re a team, and making a few jokes does help keep people feeling better.

Virtual get-togethers make a big difference in how connected people feel to the team. Have a virtual happy hour to toast successes, share how your families are doing, and just generally connect on a personal level. Share tools that each person has found to help with this work-from-home situation.

How do you regain the productivity level that your team had in the office?

Ask your team to keep sharing what’s working.

Finding ways to brainstorm and support the flow of ideas that normally occur when the team is together is difficult, but it’s worth the effort to explore different ways to keep the creativity going.

Customers First

Customers are always the focus, but now more than ever companies should be thinking about how they can help their customers succeed. If you are a product-based tech company, you know that your customers are currently taking a closer look at their bottom line and re-assessing the software that they are paying for.

Make sure that your software is delivering the ROI that your customers expect.

Now is the time to focus on providing value and proving your value. If a customer isn’t fully implemented, get in there and get them launched. It’s much easier to spend resources keeping a current customer, than finding a new one entirely. Who cares that it’s not scalable in the long-term – this is not the time to find ways to scale your customer, this is the time to get your people out there helping.

Marketers should be using this time to remind the business that customer marketing is as important as marketing to net new customers. What can you offer that keeps them renewing?

Perhaps a free month of software for a case study or a sneak peek into a new offering (for free, of course)!

Reaching out to customers and giving them additional value will create a long-term connection that is what your brand needs.

Pivoting & Exploring Alternatives

Suddenly organizations need to change how they think about their business. Are your customers growing or having trouble? Are there businesses that could really benefit from your product that you haven’t targeted before? How can your product help someone be more successful during this bizarre time? Business leaders need to be open to considering that the way of doing business in their plan from two months ago, is no longer sustainable. Event marketing for some companies was the key as some customers love meeting face to face.

Clearly that strategy won’t work now, so find something else that taps into our human need to connect with people. Roll out webinars that are led by current customers, or if possible, meet with every customer to check-in on what you can do to help, invite customers to your company virtual “Appy” hours.

It’s also important to reevaluate your expenses and look for areas that are unnecessary. Are all those SaaS apps critical to your business and contributing to the bottom line?

Now is not the time for “nice-to-haves”, your software should be working hard for your business and the ROI should be real and noticeable.

As some have said, “what got us here, won’t get us there.”

This is doubly true in our current environment, but if you focus on keeping your team engaged and excited, doubling-down on serving your customers and being flexible to change, you will have a strong roadmap for success.

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