How can we adapt and innovate during a time of disruption and change?

Written by Jon Clarke

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April 3, 2020

So far, 2020 has proven to be one of the most challenging years in modern history, certainly in my lifetime. Whilst those who have lived through wars and famine will most likely challenge this (and rightly so!). Most of us have been accustomed to a relatively privileged lifestyle, protected from many of the tragic circumstance’s others have endured. 

The current global pandemic is now impacting billions of people all over the globe. It is a challenge that faces the entire human race, on a scale that is unprecedented. Despite this truly awful situation, I feel somewhat lucky to be sat at home with my family in relative safety and in good health. This reminds me that no matter how difficult things become and how uncertain the future is, it is essential to put life into perspective and focus on the future. We will get through this and I suspect we will come out the other side stronger for it. Life must go on, which got me thinking, what do you do during a period of isolation? Do you sit it out and just stay at home, waiting for it to blow over? Or do you use this opportunity to re-evaluate what is most important in life and use this time to double down on preparing for the time when things start to recover?

For many of us, working is essential to keep the lights on (literally!). We all have bills to pay and this means we need jobs to keep the money coming in. Our livelihoods are dependent upon the organisations we work for. I’m a firm believer in thinking positively and it is times like this when innovation and creativity are critical to the future. Out of every problem an opportunity can be born. When we begin to get back to some degree of normality, I suspect the businesses that recover quickly will be where people have adapted the quickest and used this time to focus on what matters most. This is what we are doing at Cyance right now, and I thought I would share what we are doing with you.

Focus on what matters most and ensure you can measure impact

Sound obvious right? But how many of us have suffered from fuzzy goals and fuzzy thinking, which contributes to a lack of team cohesion and motivation? Just think about your own organization, how many of us can truly claim that our marketing and sales teams are 100% aligned with shared goals and work together collaboratively all the time to meet them?

Ironically, our marketing and sales teams at Cyance were very aligned and shared goals. Our challenges were elsewhere, and we needed to bring our board and operational teams together with a set of challenging and common priorities and goals. Our development team is located in 4 different countries throughout Europe and were often a step removed from the daily developments and changes in priorities at Cyance.

We needed to focus on what mattered most and ensure everyone in the team obsessed about the same thing. We turned to OKR’s!

Once we established an OKR philosophy and understood how it could be applied at Cyance, we quickly mobilised the entire team. The response was amazing! Whilst it is still early days, it has helped to simplify everything, provide clarity and focus on what matters most and help to align the team around those shared goals. 

If ever there was a time for simple, clear and measurable goals for everyone to align to, it is now. This has made the move to homeworking for all, so much easier. I have already noticed our communication and collaboration across the entire team has greatly improved.

Build a positive, transparent, goal orientated communication culture (don’t forget to have some fun!)

Many in our team were used to working from home, but others were not. When the current pandemic hit, we needed to ensure everyone could adjust and monitor the impact over time. We are only into our second week of isolation as I write this blog, I’m very aware that the impact upon our well-being and mental health may only start to show in the weeks to come.

Our OKR philosophy is helping us to provide simplicity and clarity to what matters most, and also helps everyone to understand the impact they can have upon the business. We have started to focus our ‘all hands’ team web calls on progress, everyone shares progress against their own personal OKR’s, including me, and then we have separate team and 1-2-1 calls too. 

The team are starting to come up with some great ideas to have fun too. We now have a weekly team quiz on Slack, daily check-ins and an end of day virtual pub twice a week via Zoom. In some ways, it seems we are communicating more effectively than before.

 

 Spend time on understanding changes with your customers’ needs

I suspect most of us are experiencing a degree of uncertainty, whilst many of us adjust to the current climate, from both a human and business perspective. This is understandable, but at the same time, we need to quickly adapt to business as usual. The economy needs businesses to continue trading and recover quickly. On a personal level, our jobs depend upon it!

Keeping your customers during this time is vital and understanding what is going on within them is essential to doing so. Finding new customers may be harder right now, but at some point we will need to find the most effective ways for creating demand and generating revenues. 

If your budgets are squeezed because of the economic impact, how do you keep generating demand for your services and solutions with greater efficiency, doing more with less?

At Cyance, we have customers in three categories:

1) companies with a large total addressable market 

2) companies with a smaller set of large/high value spend customers

3) companies that have both. 

What is common to each type of customer, is that they all face a challenge to truly understand as much as they can around their customer’s priorities, goals, challenges and buying behaviours.

 

Your sales and customer success teams should know as much as possible, but is always it realistic for them to know everything? As buying behaviours continue to change, so must you adapt to ensure you are not left behind.

Building an effective market and customer insight and behavior tracking strategy is vital to deliver more effective and efficient marketing and sales-driven growth. There has always been too much inefficiency within b2b marketing. Historically, it was often volume-based and very speculative. This is because there was a lack of insight into customer needs and behaviours on a broader scale. 

This is no longer the case; we have more technology and insights into customer behavior than ever before. There are many companies driving x6-x10 more growth for as much as two thirds less effort.

The companies that are already innovating here are building a first-party and third-party customer data strategy. This combines third party intent data with identifying visitors to their own websites and overlaying with customer engagement and purchases. By doing so, you can prioritise the accounts that display the greatest need and engagement with your business, and tailor how you engage. It is no surprise this approach drives better outcomes with greater efficiency. Something we will all need to strive for in the coming months and years.

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