2020 was one of the most anticipated years in history - the start of a new decade. There is a sense of hope and yearning that is associated with fresh starts, and for most of us, this was the perfect opportunity. Well, we all know how that went. It could easily be considered one of the hardest years this generation has seen. We experienced loss, tragedy, and uncertainty, in all its fullness. But I would also like to think that we experienced clarity, depth, and truth on a business level, as a country, and even for some, on a personal level.
As a business, these are the lessons we learned. We hope you can take them into account as you settle into 2021.
1. Adapt, fast!
Uncertainty breeds confusion, which in turn leads to a lack of control and loss of focus. This was the position for most companies in March 2020 when the virus hit the country and lockdowns were enforced. Businesses were left wondering how to proceed with normal operations. Most people actually thought, “This thing will probably be over in 2 weeks and we’ll get back normal”. But we do know that this was in fact not the case. As a business, we run a Sales Training Academy - the Yusudi Sales Academy (YSA). We had an on-going cohort at the time and had to think quickly about how we would move operations virtually and what impact that would have on the learners. With only a few days to plan, we managed to effectively move all of our trainings virtually, set up our students to be able to learn from home, and communicate with internal and external stakeholders of the organization about the new changes. A huge part of our success today can be attributed to how fast we were able to adapt in that moment when the world was literally brought to a standstill.
2. Pursue connections, even when you’re not getting anything out of them.
This one may sound like an oxymoron to some of you. We’ve been conditioned to thinking that we should only pursue those connections or relationships that are of value to us, and while this is true, I challenge you to pursue, also those that don’t necessarily have value for you but are of value for the other party. Think of it this way, “How can I make this person’s day?” or “How can I show my customers that I care?” Such questions will help you think deeper about your customer’s needs that are outside the products or services you offer. As a business, we thought of our customers and areas that they were struggling in due to the effects of the pandemic. We then sought out to create tailor-made content to support them and offer practical tools to help them cope during the pandemic. We delivered a total of 12 webinars, which were spaces of learning, reflection, openness, and engagement. This eventually led to a deeper connection established with our customers and a more informed understanding on our part on how to serve our customers better through the products and services we create.
3. Pivot, only with the right tools.
Forbes describes pivoting as “fundamentally changing the direction of a business when you realize the current products or services aren't meeting the needs of the market.” It truly requires an in-depth analysis of the market needs through market research, objectivity and the right tools. Last year, we made such a move. We changed our training program from offering general soft skills to technical Sales skills. This required a shift in the curriculum, target market, strategy, and delivery. A thorough assessment of your products or services can help you determine if such a shift would be favorable for you. The switch for us proved to be quite instrumental as it increased our NPS score, it improved the quality of the candidates we were generating through our training program, and clients who hired through us were more satisfied with the caliber of candidates we were now providing.
4. Track, and always take stock.
I can’t emphasize this enough, always take stock. As a marketer, this has been one of my biggest lessons throughout my career. Tracking helps you assess what activities have brought in the highest ROI. Verifying your ROI is important because it will generate leads which will bring in greater profitability. This tracking can effectively manage costs which will lead to improved practices and overall growth in your business. You can track anything from leads to processes, to costs. Tracking allows businesses to receive the most out of their spend, allow the alteration of practices that do not work, enhance practices that do, and ultimately increase business potency and volume. With the end goal of a greater ROI.
In summary, 2020 was truly instrumental in helping us to ask those hard questions such as “Why are we in business?”. Questions that can inspire a healthy thought process and ultimately drive action. I hope that you can take these lessons into 2021. Share with me in the comments on what lessons you personally took from 2020, let’s learn a thing or two from each other.
By Ivy Njeri