The contactless economy is emerging.
Consumers expect it and will probably ultimately demand it.
Converting to a 100% virtual business is unquestionably going to be the best growth strategy for the foreseeable future.
We’re doing it at Kaleidico and this is how you can too.
Converting your team to a remote workforce
Let’s start with your team.
It’s essential to have a cohesive and effective team before you can deliver any high-quality product or service.
Fortunately, everyone’s workforce was displaced at roughly the same time, so everyone is on equal footing and has time to scramble and sort things out.
But, now it’s the norm, so those who do it best will have a competitive advantage.
Currently, everything starts with the home office. Working from home (WFH), especially if it’s likely to be a permanent situation, has a few key components.
- Consistent and conducive workspace
- Consistent routine and rhythm
- Effective tools
- Expectations and accountability
Consistent and conducive workspace
At the moment, this might by necessity be a little bit makeshift. But ideally, you have carved out a little corner of your home and labeled it “The Office.”
In The Office, I recommend the following:
- A clear work surface for your computer
- The best chair you can find
- A few items that inspire or strengthen your focus (I like plants and a couple of items to fidget with)
- Natural or good lighting
- A backdrop that is conducive to video calls
Here’s a peek at my home office set up.
Consistent routine and rhythm
Working from home introduces a lot of distractions and a confluence of personal and professional priorities. One of the best ways to create clarity in your new WFH workplace is to create a routine and rhythm that signals to you and everyone else that shares your home that “you’re at work.”
This new routine might somewhat replicate your previous work from the office routine, but I think many of us will create and settle into a revised rhythm.
Mine has. Here is a peek.
My day starts at the same time (6 am), but I don’t always begin with my workout as I did before. Instead, I start with coffee and writing, then I break for a workout after a couple of hours of work.
I do a quick lunch with the family and check-in on what the kids are working on. Then back to work.
Currently, I’m ending about the same time, but I can foresee that changing a bit too. Maybe ending a little earlier in the afternoon, because of efficiency or energy level. Then offsetting this early departure with a quick 30-60 minutes of work after dinner to clean up and prepare for a quick start the next morning.
Finding and implementing the right software and tools to rewire our remote team is another critical step. This is probably the most fun or most frustrating part of the transition depending on how you’re wired.
There are lots of considerations and nuances to arrive at the right set of tools for your company. But for expediency, I’ll just get you started with the essentials.
- Team Connectivity – There are others, but I think Slack is the clear standard at the moment. However, some are evangelically applying the all in one solution of something like Basecamp – advocating a potentially calmer and less interactive remote workplace. Either way, I think that a video component is increasingly essential. Slack has this built-in, but bringing Zoom to the mix is probably important because you will need it for sales and customer service anyway.
- Project Management – We’re using Notion for the flexibility to build our own systems, however, we’ve been doing this for years to some degree. If you are rapidly converting to a remote workforce, then I would recommend something that is a little more defined and proven – Basecamp or Trello would be my recommendations.
- Video conferencing – Like Slack, there seems to be a clear winner here – Zoom. However, everyone is upping their game here. Google meeting has just released an upgrade that makes it really easy to use from your email. Since we use Google Apps for everything else and email is still the central hub of our interaction with clients, we might be investigating this as an alternative to Zoom..
Expectations and accountability
Clarity is crucial to any high-performance team.
When we’re distributed this can become challenging. Communication is often more difficult and less natural. Over-communicating (once you feel a little like a broken record, your message is probably starting to stick) is the key. Setting clear expectations and accountability for the team and individuals is a big part of creating clarity .
Everyone does this differently. Some set overarching goals and philosophies and rely on the individuals to hit their performance expectations. Others will feel a need to achieve successful outcomes by managing from the bottom up by more closely supervising and directing individual tasks and actions.
The culture and experience of your team members and leaders will ultimately determine the right mix. You’ll have to do a little experimenting here.
Converting your sales and marketing process to virtual
Even though the internet long ago became the starting point for most consumer and corporate buying, our sales and marketing processes have largely remained offline.
Many companies, from the smallest professional services firm to the largest enterprise software companies continue to rely on face-to-face networking, conferences and tradeshows, visits to the client’s headquarters, and wining and dining executive decision-makers. In a contactless world, these experiences – largely trust and rapport-building exercises – have to be replaced by online experiences.
Let’s try a little best-match exercise and see how close we can get to replicating these tactics in a remote, contactless way.
- Face-to-face networking – For most companies, this is going to mean your sales and marketing folks upping their Linkedin game. In some consumer-facing, localized businesses, like real estate, mortgage, and insurance, this might mean porting your networking efforts to Facebook.
- Conferences and Tradeshows – I actually think that there is a big opportunity in this area. As conferences begin to make their shows virtual, sponsorships seem to be getting more valuable and effective as they go online. There’s no way for people to avoid the “vendor booths.” In addition, networking opportunities on these virtual conference platforms are also better in a lot of ways. You can more efficiently build lists and connect directly with other attendees. No need to hunt down and corner prospects in the conference hallways.
- Visiting prospects and clients on-site and wining and dining – This is probably the toughest, but ironically since most of our prospects and clients have moved into their respective home offices, we’re all in the same boat. To fill this gap it’s important to create regular check-ins and email routines (automation). Design systems that regularly ping prospects and clients to see how they’re doing and what they’re focused on. Getting comfortable with spinning up Zoom meetings and meeting face-to-face on video is another great way to close this gap and build stronger personal relationships. And, don’t pass up the opportunity to send a thoughtful gift to their home. People are particularly appreciative of empathetic and thoughtful gestures in times like these. Most importantly, listen for needs.
- Add calendaring to your lead generation process – One of the biggest inefficiencies to the traditional online lead generation process is scheduling that initial “sales contact.” Traditionally, a prospect comes to a website and gets interested in your product or service. They fill out a basic web form (i.e., name, email, and maybe a phone number). Then the chase down begins – lots of phone and email tag just trying to get an initial, and necessary meeting set up to sell your solution. Even a phone call from a website is often problematic and frustrating. It will either land in a general voicemail inbox or with a frontline screener but rarely does it result in an initial discovery, demo, or sales call. Why not skip all of this messiness and allow the web visitor to directly schedule an appointment for you and them via calendly or something similar. One-step and straight to a sales call, and hopefully a closing!
The key takeaway here is: keep selling, just move it to Zoom.
Converting customer service and operations to virtual
Moving customer service and operations to virtual is not so different from what I’ve outlined in my sales and marketing virtual solution above.
The key to moving online for any part of your business is converting the face-to-face, in-office, or retail space experience to a rich and personal video experience.
For most businesses, this is as simple as giving your workforce the ability to quickly spin up a Zoom (or Google Meeting. They just did a major upgrade. If you’re using Google Apps you might consider this option). Along with this implementation, you should establish and assist in implementing some standard expectations for the employees’ video environment – personal appearance (groomed and dressed, please), background (it should be real – a blank wall, clean sheet or drape, or ideally something a little more interesting and creative), and lighting (sit in front of a window to use natural, free, lighting).
Don’t forget the need to reduce friction in scheduling these virtual interactions.
Ideally, these meetings are scheduled by and at the convenience of the customer. Joining the meetings should be a single click (all of the video conferencing solutions are getting better at this). And, consider recording the meeting and sending or linking to it in a follow up with the customer.
This brings up an important final point – always follow up via email after a virtual meeting. Try to give a quick summary and next steps. This email keeps your process and conversation moving forward and gives the customer an easy way to re-contact or engage you for next steps.
Delivering high-contact, responsive virtual execution
Ultimately, your goal in converting to a 100% virtual business is to give customers an equally, or sometimes superior, customer experience.
As you think through and begin to implement your new digital strategy and customer experience focus on the following key elements:
- High-contact – if possible give them more access to your smart people
- Responsive – get them a faster experience by cutting out the back and forth and allow them to directly schedule into your calendar
- Excellent experience – work with your team to create video experiences that are interesting, professional, and personable.
This is certainly the next iteration of business.
How are you responding? What is your next step?