Virtual is Now Reality
The social distancing and shelter-in-place mandates necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic mean that most of the U.S. workforce must now work remotely. While this presents challenges to keeping businesses open and moving forward – particularly sales and marketing teams whose work typically requires face-to-face interactions – technology solutions exist to bridge the necessary physical distances between us.
The good news is most of us are already acquainted with many, if not all, of these existing technologies to some degree. Working remotely simply means we’ll be relying on technology more, using these solutions in conjunction with each other, and finding more creative ways to create and navigate the virtual workspace.
Studio/D suggests the following tools to keep sales and marketing teams focused, organized, and on track while physically working apart.
Cloud-based Phone System
Phone systems are the lifeblood of most organizations. Happily, most organizations no longer need to pay for and maintain bulky land lines sitting on everyone’s desk. Rather, there are great cloud-based alternatives including RingCentral, Vonage, Grasshopper, and others. These allow you to select or maintain existing numbers, have customized messages, and point calls to the appropriate person’s mobile phone. There’s no longer a reason to miss calls because you’re not at your desk.
Cloud-sourced Storage & File-sharing
These days, most businesses are equipped with internal servers that are accessed by employees, minimizing the risk to exposure of sensitive documents to the outside world. In many cases, remote access to these servers may not be possible for all team members. In these situations, businesses may wish to turn to cloud-based servers such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or Apple’s iCloud to store and share non-sensitive files and documents that can be accessed, shared, and updated by remote sales and marketing personnel. Additionally, many of the solutions presented below include access to their own encrypted cloud storage platforms.
Virtual Meeting Software
Remote working means we’ll all be using our phones, tablets, and home computers to “be together.” Work communication usually involves physical interactions where we can read each other’s body language and tone. Virtual meeting software programs such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype, Web Meeting, and Zapnito provide a visual aspect to go with the audio of teleconferencing.
Tradeshows, in-person sales pitches and product demonstrations are not going to be possible for a while. Luckily, YouTube, Facebook Live, Vimeo, and podcasts are perfectly suited to take their place and can be hosted or linked to from your company website. Additionally, video editing software such as Lightworks, HitFilm Express, Shotcut, and Movie Maker Online offer free versions and are designed for ease-of-use by non-professional filmmakers. These can be used to create virtual lobbies and showrooms through both pre-produced and live product/service demonstrations or sales pitches. Plus, there is no economy of scale – they can be used for one-to-one or one-to-many presentations.
Project Management Software
Monday.com, Basecamp, Jira, Trello, and Microsoft Project are just some of the project management programs your teams can access remotely to keep their daily tasks organized, communicated, and moving forward. All have affordable, tiered solutions to match your business size and budget. These programs help keep your teams focused, in-touch, and organized while apart and many have options to allow access to your customers and clients to a customizable degree.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
If you aren’t already been using a CRM platform to track interactions with your customers and prospects, NOW is the time. There are many providers out there – from robust, fee-based solutions such as Salesforce, to free, easy-to-master versions such as HubSpot or Freshworks. The key is that your sales and marketing teams must have some system to document and track the status of your prospects and customers.
Sales & Marketing Communications
It’s become cliché and you may be tired of hearing it, but content is still king. And, its importance is greatly elevated as it becomes your main voice in the marketplace. With that in mind, Studio/D offers the following advice to ensure continuing clear, concise, intelligent, and valuable content from your sales and marketing teams:
- Much of your outreach during quarantine is going to be digital in nature. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to make sure your digital communications – social media posts, emails, white papers, and eBooks, etc. – are up-to-date, relevant, and include information about the various ways customers and prospects can communicate with your company.
- Avoid physical direct mail. While it’s still a valid promotional method – and was making a comeback before coronavirus – with the recipient’s physical location in question, it’s best to use digital approaches that can be accessed remotely by the recipient.
- Use corporate websites, your social media platforms, and emails to promote and drive traffic to your virtual events and digital communications.
- If your company is not already actively engaging with publications and online digital outlets within your industry, NOW is the time. These platforms represent the voice of your industry and you need to be communicating with them. A robust public relations plan gives you a powerful megaphone with which to broadcast how your company is continuing to move forward in these trying times.
- In times of uncertainty, we can be tempted to inaction or withdrawal – precisely the missteps that can cause businesses to falter. Partnering with a savvy, flexible, and assured communications agency will ensure that your corporate communications continue unabated and position you for a return to normal business operations.
When used in concert with each other, these virtual business solutions can ensure that your company’s sales and marketing efforts will not only continue without interruption but potentially thrive during the uncertain days ahead. At the very least, you will be better positioned to succeed when this time of crisis passes.