We have found ourselves in a serious situation and it is clear that, apart from a couple of exceptions that will (at least for a short period of time) make a profit, most companies will be hit hard by the economic situation that is upon us after the pandemic. Just to make it clear – even though HSM offers a wide range of products and services, and has clients from different countries and business niches, we can see the effects of the crisis in sales for each segment of our company. We struggle to find new clients and there is a problem with postponing arranged projects, as well as signing new ones. In the current situation it is simply hard to make investment decisions.
Time upon us brings us new challenges. I would even say that HSM, just like other companies in our region that have been in the business for a long time, has experienced all kinds of work circumstances except prosperity. That has made all of us solid and strong, so I believe that the majority will find their way out of this situation and adapt.
For some, that will mean a complete change in doing business and seeking new business models, while others will continue to work with no major changes. I have dedicated this blog primarily to companies like HSM – those who will definitely see a delay in their business, but they have influence on the scope of it.
The economy has stopped and history teaches us that once it does, it takes a long time to recover. Given the circumstances, growth slow down or revenue decline is inevitable and there is not much we can do about it. Nevertheless, I believe we can control the scope of the situation. But it is important to keep in mind that it is not going to be easy and it will take a lot more effort to achieve similar results as before.
Even though there are less opportunities, these two months since the beginning of the pandemic have been the most turbulent and active in a long time. Personally, it has been the most active period in my entire career so far.
◉ 1. Marketing (a shift from the physical to virtual world)
Alongside direct sales activities, the main generator of new opportunities for Salesforce projects for the last couple of years have been sales events. In the last three years we have organized roughly ten Salesforce events in Croatia and Serbia. Around 100 people would come to a big conference room to listen about benefits Salesforce can have for their business. Right now, we have moved all our planned events online. Soon we realized that, even though they cost a lot less than our usual events, successful webinars require almost the same, if not greater, amount of preparation and effort to select a topic. There is a great number of various webinars out there right now. So, the question is – why would people attend yours and how do you keep them engaged till the end. In our case, the best idea turned out to be to organize specialised webinars such as “Managing your dislocated B2B sales team” and “Structured sales in the media industry”. I would also like to say that even though our budget for marketing is smaller than usual, we still do invest in it, not just for the new clients, but for the ones we already have. We want to show that we are still by their side and that we will support them in the upcoming months as well.
◉ 2. We have moved our goals for project sales to medium and long term
We use sales development in the same amount as we did before, possibly even more. Despite the fact that this situation made clear to a lot of companies how important a CRM solution can be, for most of them an investment in projects like CRM is not realistic. That is why we decided to focus on starting first conversations and creating a potential customer base for months to come. Even though we are conducting initial conversations, we are completely aware of the fact that it will stay like that for a longer period of time and that it will take a long time to start making deals. Nevertheless, those are vital conversations we need to make in order to raise awareness among clients as well as the market.
◉ 3. We have broadened our offer with new solutions
For the last couple of years, we focused on specializing and reducing our portfolio. We recognized the increased need for new solutions so we turned to new technologies such as video conference and webinar solutions, as well as digital document signing software. When choosing a solution, rather than thinking only of the short term effect, we decided on those solutions which would complement our current offer. It makes sense that 10 years from now, someone could learn about us through our webinar, we might make conversations with them through video conferencing which we will note straight into our CRM, while signing the contracts digitally.
◉ 4. We share a lot more resources internally
As I already said, we have a variety of suppliers, we cover different markets and speak to various clients, so HSM has formed three separate teams – one for software distribution, one for selling multimedial equipment, and one for selling and implementing CRM solutions. Each team has their own logistics and sales. I believe that was the key to increasing our sales 2,5 times, all while creating one of the most respectable CRM practices in our region and further. For the last couple of years, we haven’t spent much time working together, but for these few months, some of our sales campaigns were organized with the resources among teams shared completely. For instance, one team contacted the clients, the other closed the deals, while the third team implemented the solution.
◉ 5. We worked on internal transparency even more
Transparency and care for customers is vital but we mustn’t forget to take care of your employees as well – making extra effort here is important to make sure we all do our jobs even better.
In my opinion, one of the things that distinguishes us from other companies is a transparent relationship towards our colleagues. We have always been transparent about the numbers and finances in the company. Now, we decided to take it further. We decided that “white lies” are not an option so we constantly speak frankly to our colleagues about the bad things which are to be expected right now, as well as the future plans.
We have yet to see if everything we have done will be successful, because we won’t feel the real effects until months from now. Nonetheless, I hope this was a useful experience to read.
That is all from me! Good luck!