COVID-19 has rocked most sectors and individuals. As the nation holds its breath for the end of the pandemic, many industries are looking at the post-COVID-19 recovery landscape and trying to figure out what it means.
Many companies with substantial brick-and-mortar investments are seeing their square-footage use shrinking as more and more employees work from home offices or kitchen tables. Will this past year completely change work environments for years to come? Many thought leaders believe that the answer to that is yes.
For sales professionals, recovery is certainly a windfall, but it also presents challenges. The fact is, many sales pros found their customers closing up shop, and while the outlook is starting to become more positive, many customers may still be hesitant to purchase.
This post-pandemic uncertainty will cause a lot of stress as the new normal becomes more evident – so what do sales pros need to know as they maneuver out of isolation and hit the road again?
In this article, two respected professionals, Poly CTO David Bryan and Pipeliner CRM CEO Nikolaus Kimla, offer the following “post-pandemic” trends and predictions for the office-space and sales industries, respectively.
David Bryan, CTO of Poly:
Trend No. 1: Real estate costs are transitioning to IT investment in the post-pandemic world.
We’re hearing from our customers that as their real estate footprint is shrinking, those savings are being reinvested back into their technology so that people in disparate locations – some in an office, some at home – can communicate with one another. Offices in the future will primarily be used for group work such as meetings, team building and strategic planning, while independent work will likely be done at home. IT decision-makers are recognizing that every meeting room will need to be equipped with modern, AI-driven collaboration technology – as each will be needed to routinely connect to the much larger percentage of remote workers. This means flexibility will be an increasingly important attribute that managers will come to expect of their office spaces, and something they will look to IT teams to facilitate.
Trend No. 2: AI playing an essential role in office buildings.
We will see highly imaginative applications of AI, especially when it comes to touchless control. We are working in the lab on new experiences, powered by voice control, gesture control, and more advanced technologies. In this day and age, no one wants to be touching surfaces in the lobby, conference room or shared workspaces. AI will increasingly alert IT and facilities management to important information we can take action on—such as a meeting room that is exceeding capacity or notification that a meeting is over so the room can be cleaned. We are going from a world where advanced room analytics and insights are not just about best practices for managing space but are also about being responsible organizations and keeping our employees healthy.
Trend No. 3: High-quality video conferencing technology becoming an equalizing force.
In 2021, intelligent control and high-quality audio, video and collaboration devices will be essential to “level the playing field.” Video helps remote participants get as close as possible to the experience of being in the same room, and as hybrid working becomes the norm, it will be essential to ensuring cohesive business operations and culture. True collaboration requires great systems tailored for those who are venturing into the office, as well as those collaborating from their homes. This requires more than just simple web cameras and is an area where industry-leading hardware makes all the difference. This is another area where AI and machine learning will be critical. The devices in the office need to be aware of the room, participants and the meeting flow to deliver that “in-the-room” feel to the remote participants. AI can also help optimize things for those at home, and ensure home users can project a professional image. For example, our world-class audio, and features such as advanced NoiseBlockAI, can help to mask background noise, wherever you are.
Trend No. 4: Accelerated digital transformation and adoption of personal collaboration devices.
Now that the remote working model has proven itself to be more useful than was previously accepted, expect to see more products designed for personal use, along with accelerated adoption of cloud-based management. With hybrid working here to stay, individuals will seek flexibility in devices that offer comfort, quality, mobility and style whether they choose to work from home, the office or another co-working space. Inevitably, enterprises will look to embrace device management of these products for on-prem as well as a remote workforce. It’s about more than just sending someone with a couple of devices they picked up from the local store. It’s about ensuring employees at home have the same professional, high-quality, and easily managed systems and experience they have come to expect in the office.
Nikolaus Kimla, CEO of Pipeliner CRM
Prediction No. 1: Digital transformation and automation will be critical in the post-pandemic world to help sales pros to facilitate more creative customer interactions.
In the post-pandemic world, sales teams need to take a more personal and empathetic approach to selling to re-establish relationships after long periods of isolation. This is only possible if organizations can recast their business models by digitizing repetitive processes that will free up sales teams to focus on more high-value activities that can improve customer relations.
Automation, which has been instrumental in driving a data-driven approach to sales processes, enables the digitization of administrative tasks as well as helps sales teams to procure more customer intelligence to develop strategies for approaching customers. This is especially crucial if the customer has been through a challenging year and may be hesitant to re-engage.
Now is the time for organizations to develop digital processes that define success as well as encourage experimentation and risk-taking.
Prediction No. 2: The education of future sales pros must include a combination of management and technical skills.
The fact is, business schools have not kept pace with the sales industry. As a result, there has been a dearth of sales talent, along with extremely negative attitudes within academic institutions about teaching and learning sales.
As we enter into post-pandemic recovery, academic institutions need to develop a new method to teach sales and a first step is to partner with corporate entities in order to develop work-ready talent. Additionally, institutions must take a digital-strategy and expose students to the latest sales technologies such as CRM as well as several industry automation solutions. Students should also be taught social media marketing tactics in order to prospect new customers and develop buyer dossiers.
Another key approach is to train future sales leaders on soft skills, as a Carnegie Mellon study stipulates that 75% of success in business is tied to soft skills, which enables more empathy and understanding with customers. This tactic also includes “adaptive learning” — enabling students to understand what characteristics, skill sets, behaviors, and competencies are required to ‘adapt’ to different personality types.
Prediction 3: The wrong analytics can lead to devastating results. In the post-pandemic world, deeper and more accurate analytics can provide more impact and better decision-making.
The Covid-19 pandemic showed us what happens when data is interpreted incorrectly. In the past year, there were several instances when statistics were wrongly analyzed or facts incorrectly publicized – which can spell panic and confusion.
In business, today sales teams require deep analytics, with accurate data and actionable insights which can lead to more efficient and effective decisions. When data is incorrect, wrong decisions are made. Therefore, automated analytics tools are necessary to interpret data which allows sales teams to implement decisive sales strategies that will prove successful.
Analytics tools should include the four primary types of analytics: descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive. These tools must interconnect so when data is examined, the results are meaningful. The goal of data is to remove problems, reduce risk, and to leverage opportunities. When sales pros can fully understand indicators and metrics, and deeply view actual issues, they can be proactive instead of reactive.