CEO Manny Medina used his Outreach Unleash virtual conference, which was rescheduled from an early April live event, to inspire and motivate leaders to pivot their businesses. Noting that his company nearly failed before finding value in some internal sales engagement tools that saved his company, he discussed two strategies for companies: hunkering down or pivoting. His recommendation was to pivot into new markets, products, and messaging. For most companies, their “customer’s realities have changed, and the old value proposition won’t work.”
Some will hunker down, pare employees, marketing, and spend, hoping to wait out the storm. This is a survival strategy, but it leaves the company weakened when things improve and demand returns. Hunkering down assumes that the current situation is temporary and won’t have a long-term impact on their markets. Firms that hunker down may survive, but they cede market share, ongoing product development, and an understanding of evolving market requirements. Bolder competitors continue to build their product, establish relationships, and prepare for the thaw.
There are a few companies in segments where demand is exploding. These lucky firms need to manage explosive growth around e-commerce, e-delivery, or digital services. To these firms, Outreach is asking how can we best meet your needs? But most companies do not fall into those categories.
“A lot of customers are coming to us looking for guidance on how to get through this. They want insight into how to manage their teams remotely and how to pivot their business.”Outreach CEO Manny Medina
Medina recommends pivoting in search of new markets, products, and opportunities. Doing so requires that firms carefully analyze their skills, assets, and messaging. Firms need to “measure and iterate,” “be one with the customer,” and “act with urgency.” Sales reps and management need to be doing more check-ins with clients. The goal isn’t to be selling today, but sharing ideas, building trust, and empathetically discussing needs. Sales reps need to be disciplined and ”listen to understand, not to respond,” while management must identify new markets, personas, and messaging.
Medina views the pandemic and subsequent crisis in demand as an opportunity to grow, become more efficient, and get closer to one’s customers. In a shrinking market, the bold may not grow revenue; still, they will increase market share, investigate new opportunities, and build relationships, which will allow them to outperform when the market improves.
Outreach is “working hard to master the ability to create trusting relationships — at a distance,” said Medina. “Only two months ago, it was religion that you needed to meet someone in person to build trust – now we are doing it all over video.”
Now, COVID has given everyone an excuse to come in below their number this year. However, you have no excuse for not answering yes to the following questions.Outreach CMO Max Altschuler
– Did your teams become more efficient?
– Did you iterate and pivot until you found a sweet spot that worked?
– Did you level up your sales process to make WFH successful?
Now is the time to act on the things you CAN control. To build for the future.
Internally, Medina has emphasized communications, switching from weekly emails to weekly videos and weekly office hours via Zoom. “It helps me be visible and showcase both a serious tone and an optimistic one.”
Outreach is also building loyalty amongst its staff. It has retained all of its 550 employees. To assist WFH parents, Outreach is providing $100 per week for educational materials, tutoring, tools, and supplies. Outreach has also provided additional support beyond its healthcare plan to employee families impacted by COVID-19.
Outreach chose not to apply for PPP loans even though its investors suggested they do so. The firm, however, continues to invest 40% of its revenue in product development, preparing for the next market inflection point.
Outreach also chose to continue its expansion. It opened a London EMEA office in February with plans to its first East Coast office in New York City later this year. The firm has over 400 clients headquartered in NYC, nearly ten percent of its customer base. The new office will be led by Regional VP David Rubenstein who has over fifteen years of industry experience, the past six years at Salesforce.