If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that times can be both challenging and unpredictable, and those who embrace those challenges and pivot quickly tend to fare well in the end. Like most businesses, the pandemic initially brought operations to a halt as company leaders made quick decisions on everything from strategy and planning to work from home operations.
Today, we sat down with Bython Media’s CEO, Bhupinder Gulati, to talk through some of the challenges that the company faced in 2020 and the changes he has led the company to make to stay focused on the goals ahead. Business continuity and succession planning and being able to pivot and invent new ways of using technology and other tools have helped to ensure Bython stays on target and meets its goals.
1. Business continuity planning
Like most companies, business continuity planning was one of the first things we considered. Having a framework in place or creating that framework quickly helps reduce the level of panic and uncertainty among employees. Most of the time, we think about business continuity in terms of a critical role leaving such as the VP of Sales or the CIO or even the CEO, but this time around, it was different. 2020 was for us more focused around the situation in the market and stabilizing our employees, helping them to understand some of the changes that were taking place in our world.
Luckily, we had a plan in place as to how the business would continue, but this time we were forced to intentionally focus on it and make it much more robust than it was. That new focus steered us into really paying attention to our technology and how we used technology to be more efficient throughout the company. From a core technology perspective, especially when working with a distributed team, we needed to get the entire company up to speed quickly on using Teams, collaboration tools, and cybersecurity safety.
2. Workforce management systems
With work from home or remote work coming into play in the first few months after the pandemic started, it was necessary to have a universal workforce management system that would be intuitive and easy to manage for teams across time zones and companies. Rather than monitoring times employees logged in and logged out, we focused on measuring work progress, outputs, and results for the overall organization.
It is easy to get the feeling when you are on a Teams meeting or Zoom call that someone on your team is not really working because you hear babies crying, dogs barking, or microwaves going off in the background. We realized that it was more critical for us to look again at our technology and measure outputs and results through an effective workforce management system.
We found something interesting that happened. Having a workforce management system in place helped us realize how much more efficient our team members are at home than before when they were going into an office every day.
3. Succession planning
For many, succession planning seems to be a time-consuming and complicated process that is only relatable to enterprise organizations with thousands of employees. However, planning who has the necessary job skills to accomplish a particular job or task is critical even for smaller organizations with hundreds of employees.
We had to ask ourselves: if the entire leadership team gets sick with COVID, would the business be able to move forward and continue at a reasonable pace with the right revenue and results? When we looked at our current situation, the answer was no. There was an immense movement in the work from home transition, especially with some people trying to care for small kids and elderly parents. And so we had to think about how to continue in a seamless environment if someone who was critical to the organization actually couldn’t work for weeks on in.
For us, while our business continuity plan was solely focused on technology, our succession plan was wholly focused on our people. We had many discussions around personal goals being mapped to organizational goals. That helped us give employees the right assurance and make the right decisions in terms of placements and promotions.
4. Account management vs. sales growth
In marketing and sales departments, it is often the case that parts of the team focus on account management while others focus on sales growth. As the pandemic continued to push ahead and impact our own business and our clients’ businesses, we had to decide between whether we wanted to focus on getting new business or maintaining and growing the accounts we had.
Sales teams are used to calling people, but no one is in the office; they are used to traveling, but everyone is social distancing and travel was hampered; they are used to attending events and networking, but all events are canceled or being moved to virtual environments. What do you do with sales team members then?
In trying to answer that question, we immediately asked ourselves whether we could do profitable sales growth in our current accounts rather than putting all of our eggs into new business. We were never quite concerned with sales growth and instead wanted to solidify our accounts and ensure good account retention. As a result, we had part of our sales team focus on communication with clients, better delivery, and boosted the reporting metrics, bringing more value to our current clients. Once we ramped that up, we saw our current accounts grow by 40%.
5. Business financials
If we are honest, every business exists to make money. It was vital for us to continue to focus on where we wanted to be in the next 2-4 years and think about our positioning in the industry.
We had to ask ourselves several questions: How would our company look in the industry if our annual sales had decreased by half or more during the pandemic? Would we be able to recover at that high of a dip in sales? Would our board of directors, clients, vendors, and employees see us as a company that was not pandemic ready and unable to overcome these types of challenges quickly?
All of these questions matter when you’re in the middle of a crisis. Continuing to ask and answer some of these questions ourselves and amongst our team forced us to quickly take measures to protect the company while at the same time not stifling growth or remaining stagnant.
There is much opportunity to be gained in 2021 and the years ahead of us. Now that 2020 is truly hindsight, one of the things we learned is that there are so many ways to do content marketing and create and syndicate digital content to reach our audiences, even if we couldn’t meet them in-person or attend their events. Our teams and many other teams found ways to leverage content and information online to get the right message out to the right people, even during a pandemic. And that is something of which we as a company are proud.
Take a peek into the outcomes of demand generation operations at Bython Media from July to December 2020 in the 2021 State of B2B Demand Generation & Content Trends that is available for download here.