Dec 28, 2020, Business, inside iteo

COV-ering 2020 Part 1: Have a cake…

Kamila Figura Senior Product Designer

When April comes and nature shyly starts to bloom, we make inventories of our households preparing for spring cleaning. A few months later in June, we take a long hard look in the mirror and think about summer and our beach bodies. Naturally, when December comes we reflect about the passing year, dwelling on what went right and what could have been better. This time is no different. Except that this year was like no other in the history of humankind.

Pandemic impacted absolutely everything, changing our daily life drastically. I don’t think I would be exaggerating saying that some of us only spend the nights in our houses being engaged in so many activities. Now we are forced to stay there for weeks. Even if we weren’t, there would be no place to go. Almost everything is closed. Our personal relations were replaced with video calls with family and friends. Even our shopping habits have changed and moved online. All in the shadow of the virus that we couldn’t quite figure out. But we went from being terrified to being creative and productive in the face of new times. Humans adapt, no doubt about it.

People at the front line

As a company with a worldwide list of clients, we were already used to online forms of contact. So why would we feel that anything should be changed? Mostly because that was just the tip of the iceberg of the sales efforts. We believed that personal communication with potential customers would allow us to truly understand their needs and build a foundation for a long-lasting relation. Which is why our sales representatives were in the constant state of travelling, some of them even preferred to relocate on a temporary basis just to have an option of meeting in person. We were used to participating in the countless conferences and meetups, introducing our services and skilled teams, which usually resulted in starting a new business. Then it all stopped. Flights cancelled, conferences closed. Exactly at the time of our biggest growth as a company. Was all that effort jeopardized?  We had to think quick on our feet.

Go with your gut

We knew that it wouldn’t be about working longer hours but about a more efficient approach. Even though our sales team established certain ground rules we were always aware that we need to adapt to the current market very quickly, finding innovative ways of approaching new clients, pivoting strategies on the go. Time of pandemic made us focus even stronger, in a way that perhaps wouldn’t prove to be working in the long run, at the risk of burning out. But if used as a tool in strategic (key) moments over the course of the year could work magic within the sales department, leaving other times for more experimental or already proven approaches. The sales team is used to notorious changes in the market, but the beginning of the worldwide lockdown and the uncertainty of the months to come combined with clients playing it safe (freezing projects to remain their cashflow), made us far more organised and creative. We became even more agile than we thought we could be. We brainstormed and planned, then tested selected ideas to finally review the outcome and draw a conclusion from each new strategy. Even though it was draining and challenging we grew stronger and faster developing our internal skills. We work more effectively now, trusting our instinct and going with our guts. If something turns out not to be working, we move past it and try some new ideas. We are not feeling rushed but liberated. The worst has happened, pandemic got us all, and what? We made it, and we did great. Now, looking back, this year made us question our current process and ultimately turn it into something that will allow us to grow regardless if the pandemic situation remains. The market is adjusting itself and digitising areas never explored before. We do the same. We evolve.

Lessons learned

Monitoring our process and progress has always been the core of how we work. But now we pay special attention to what we do as individuals, as teams, as a company. It allowed us to draw conclusions about weaker periods throughout the year in our pipeline. We understood that precise actions made during certain months could allow us to go steady all year round. We can say that we always did great, but a company which doesn’t look for its weak spots is unable to grow and after all, development is what we do ;).

To our benefit, we discovered that prior to pandemic a lot of companies were reluctant with hiring outsourcing agencies. Now, when they are forced to work remotely at their own corporations, they see for themselves that distance is not an obstacle. The world of skilled people has opened up to them. It’s all about the added value you can provide rather than the distance between us and our clients.

Lastly, we diversified our outbound operation into areas we weren’t focused on as much. We were, and still are proud of our expertise in hospitality, logistics, automotive and many more but we pivoted in the areas that we realised are worth exploring under the current situation. So did our clients. Some of them found interesting areas they want to explore digitally, for example, A.I. robots onboarding hotel clients. Interesting, right? The world got creative, we joined the ride.

Our clients weren’t the only passengers we needed to address on this wibbly-wobbly journey of the 2020 Covid ride. How we managed to stay on one bus as a company and not take off on the first stop is another story. Interested? You can read it here ?