Webinar with Annika McCrea (Stockholm): How to accelerate revenue during and after a crisis
Revenue and the impact today
So what is revenue in a very simple equation? It's simply the price of the service or the product that you're selling times the volume of what you are selling.
What are the drivers behind revenue? what happens to revenue when we are going through a crisis? And how do we actually ensure that we actually scale up to the same Revenue as before?
If you look at it from a profit and loss statement, when we talk top line, it's because it's at the very top of the profit and loss of the income statement. As you know, you have revenues and then you have the cost of manufacturing or servicing those revenues and then you have your operating cost and other expenses needed to maintain your business.
If you don't have any Revenue, your business is dead or is about to die one day. If you don't have profitable Revenue your business will with high probability die soon.
There are plenty of companies that are investing ahead of actually getting some revenue. And the Investment Community are really into a lot of companies who they're hoping will have future revenues. There's nothing new with that investing ahead of demand to actually get revenues that long-term you need to drive profitable revenues for a business to be viable.
Challenge with existing revenue growth in a crisis
We all know what's happening to the hospitality, the travel business right now. All revenue fel dramatically down. What we've typically seen is that:
• we're missing forecasts and not reaching sales goals that you typically had.
• there's a lot of uncertainty and the sales strategy becomes unclear.
• a lot of businesses will be struggling with the growth rate and possibly also with the business model that they're in.
• Innefective sales org structure and lack the resources or talent to grow faster.
When everything is going really well, everything is on and up and up. Then you will not see the real problems. It’s during crisis that you will really see whether there is a good organizational structure in the business. Or if the things are being ineffective. Or if you're lacking the right resources to take on the business as you're going back to the new normal.
• New ways of working and lack of skills to execute in new normal.
Everything is going online. Everything is becoming digital. And this requires a new set of skills to execute and to actually continue generating Revenue. A lot of customers are getting ready for a new normal where there will be more and more of a virtual meetings. So that we're not ever really going back to the way that things were before when it comes to business traveling and meeting customers. A new ways of working is also requiring new skills to adapt to.
Challenge with future Revenue streams
The other thing that is happening is that we don't have a good path of where future revenue streams are going to come from. Typically when we see companies looking at Revenue acceleration, there are two things: there is the existing Revenue model and there is a future business model that you look at that typically is linked to Innovation. That is important that both CEOs and all leaders in the business have to think about in this new normal. How do you actually look at that new future Revenue stream while you're trying to remodel the existing grappling mystery?
• Lack a clear path to new revenue streams
• Lack of knowledge of new expansion markets
• Difficult to move innovation from idea to execution
- Lack line of sight to the overall strategy
- Spend significant resources & need to prioritize
- Execution fails in terms of speed, cost and control
Leadership in virtual and challenging times
How to motivate team to drive Revenue generation in difficult times? One of the things is that you have to recognize the differences that you are in. So as a leader your role is to really inspire and communicate in a virtual setting.
There is no clear understanding of when next face-to-face meeting with a clear, focused message will be and where you can have a focused message. Therefore, regional sales meetings and connection points need to be replaced with virtual interactions.
Before the executive presence in an office was about talking to your team and connecting on a regular basis. Now that needs to be replaced by a virtual presence. The leader should keep engaging the team, read non-visual cues and listen to underlying concerns and challenges.
So to do that well, we have to really continue sharing and vision for success. How are we going to be successful or how are we going to be overcoming this? Communicating messages from headquarters in order to align the team and using inspiring messages and using storytelling to actually visualize a positive future. Yet be honest and realistic. This is a time that people were really question if you're not being realistic.
It's also important to set expectations. Otherwise, it's hard to tell somebody in a performance review why they did not perform. It's more important than ever to clarify goals. That is also incredibly important to discuss what- if scenarios based on uncertainties. And also you need to create a safe environment where you are open to feedback and where people can actually ask you questions around their goals that they have, if they don't feel that they are realistic.
In terms of creating a virtual presence one thing that works really well is leaders who are being proactive ahead of time and communicating, when they are available, scheduling one-on-one time. If you're talking to a team ensure that you are actually paying attention, talking to them, focusing on them as the role model for the behavior that you're expecting them to have with customers.
Sales or revenue generation are really looking forward to a regional sales meeting or something else is going to happen. So as a leader is important to really have those regional virtual meeting for them.
Chat in real time. Just checking in how people are doing. This is the time as a leader also to be open to talk about mental health issues and understanding that people are not always feeling good being at home. Some people may find it a relief and other people to feel it's a constraint. It's about understanding the individual motivations.
Maximize face-to-face contact and then fostering a remote team spirit. If you're managing a big team, let them take turns to actually come up with different activities that you do as a team.
And finally demonstrate trust as we said before.
So as a Leader in This Crisis and Beyond it’s important to:
• formulate a vision for success and communicate it in a clear and engaging way
• Set individual goals and performance expectations for a sales team working remotely, while checking in more frequently
• Create leadership through virtual positive presence
Coaching the Team
This part is about developing the team while this is ongoing. Again for some companies are saying this may be a new normal. For other companies people are expecting things to be back with the way they were. But it is just as important and even more important to understand that this is the time to coach the team because they may not have the same skills that they need in this new environment.
First of all, the importance of the role of the manager. When it comes to revenue, research shows that the increase of up to 20% if you focus on how your customer facing team, interact with prospects and customers. So if whether these are government contracts or these are private companies, building a relationship and you coaching them in how they improve their interaction with a prospects and customers can have a big impact.
In doing this focusing on observable behaviors. It is something that research shows is really key. The question is: «I observed you doing this. I think, if I'm being objective, it's probably better if you do this way, this is going to give you a better result». So focus on really using a coaching model and focus on the objective observable behavior.
Again, any coaching model is a good coaching model. If you don't have a coaching model that you use, I can recommend one that's called GROW. It's an open model, very simple, but most of you have been through some coaching model at some point in time. It's a really good way to practice also if you have children, if you have a spouse. Use a coaching model on that because it actually teaches you a lot about how you interact with those who are near and dear to you.
It also shows that sales management is so important now that there has been a transition to remote and virtual. The research shows that already back in 2015 there was a big emergence of a remote sales force compared to just 4-5 years before. And in some cases people noticed a productivity improvement 60% in people working remotely. And that's something that needs to be taken into consideration. It simply means as a manager or as a sales manager, revenue-generating manager that you may have to actually really focus on your team.
In coaching the team 3 key things that are so important - to engage the team, understanding individual needs and motivations and coaching new virtual skills.
• keeping the team engaged
It's really about being a role model for good virtual behavior, if that's how you're operating
• using different interactivity each time
Sometimes you may be on a Zoom call, other times you may be using chats or polls.
• make coaching moments as something positive.
So to be objective, but also give praise. Give praise goes a long way to actually label the change in behavior, especially during tough times.
Coaching to individual needs and motivation
Recognize that some people may need more coaching in this new environment than others may. Your top team player maybe the one who is not able to handle this situation.
And recognize also there may be gaps in capability. For those of you who are in revenue-generating goals, you may think that your teams used to go out and have face-to-face interaction with customers. They may not be comfortable doing Zoom interactions or phone call and the video calls. Therefore, it's a capability that they may need to develop and that you can support them in doing it.
As a Leader your role is to identify for each person that they have different individual needs and motivations based on the situation that they're in. Identify, assess and coach, and develop are the typically recommendations for a leader.
Coaching Virtual Customer Facing Skills
We had identified skills that are vastly different that actually leads to revenue generation during this crisis that will also hold true after the crisis, especially if virtual engagement continues.
One of them is Gaining Access & Building Rapport.
We use visual cues in real life. We are face to face. We build relationships by meeting customers. Now you have to do that over the phone. You have to listen to a tone of voice and it change of how people are interacting. and you may actually also need to engage with multiple stakeholders. It's really important to develop those skills to be able to accelerate the revenue during these times.
Asking The Right Questions.
Curiosity is the best skill of any customer-facing individual. Being curious about what the other person does, automatically leads to really asking the questions, not being focused about what you are bringing to the table, but understanding what their situation is.
Using a set of questions for creating early engagement and really building trust with a customer. This can be used in a face-to-face environment as well.
Ask questions to uncover needs, concerns or what would add value to the customer.
Using pauses listening and effective questions - those are even more important now than ever.
Bringing Relevant Insights.
This is key to any one but talking to a customer and really delivering relationship management and building rapport also bringing them information about what's going on in their business. So bringing relevant value to the customer that they perceive as value not that you perceive as value. This is different in the virtual setting where the attention span is typically very short. So it's very easy to get out of a relationship and a virtual environment. So keeping the interest and bringing value over and over again is something that will really make a change to actually accelerate the Revenue during these times.
Handling Objections and Closing Meeting
And finally these are the new types of objections that come up. Closing the meeting with a focus on follow-up actions some customers right now are not in a buying mode or not open, they may not be the same contracts that being open to your businesses right now. However, they are waiting and pausing and thinking about when the new normal is happening. It's just as important that you don't keep that relationship just in the friendly basis. Building Rapport is an important thing, but at some point you will also be sharing value with them around what you're going to offer. So having clear follow-up actions become important.
Rhythm in virtual Times
Creating a new Rhythm in a new normal
As a leader, you have to adopt the new rhythm. It is again about rebalance your weekly activities to focus on the team and trying to get rid of non-value activities and being more present than ever during a crisis, understanding the teams concerns. But also about creating a balance between too much rigor (bureaucratic rules and reports that don’t impact revenue growth) and through little discipline.
Drivers of Revenue growth
You can have any part of the business but somewhere you always impact the customer. And if you impact the customer or you have an interaction with a customer that does that impact what we call the Top Line or the Revenue.
Revenue, as mentioned earlier, is an equation that is price times volume, whatever business you're in.
It's really about three elements working in symbiosis.
This is a systematic approach that having these three elements in place at the same time is pretty powerful to ensure that you have a revenue strategy that works even after you come out of a crisis.
- It's about do we have the right people in the right place on the bus?
- Do we have the right processes in place to support long-term profitable Revenue growth?
- And finally if we have those - do we have the right capabilities in the organization based on the new normal?
Capabilities would be an example of what I was talking about before. Having the virtual sales skills capabilities or their revenue-generating capabilities to build relationships in a virtual environment. That would be under capability, for example.
How do you get to a point where that works as a system? Well, it's starting off with really assessing where your people are, assessing the processes that are in place and assessing the organization, assessing communication and technology issues. And really ensuring that marketing and sales are working together
The next step is to redesign a revenue driving organization.
It's right sizing of customer facing organization. If more people are working from home having virtual engagement with your customers, do you need to change the organization based on what's going on? Do you have to change your own leadership rhythm or other leaders? Do you have the right tools and templates? Do you have the right pricing processes and guidelines? Are things working efficiently? And are the target and KPIs aligned to goals?
Once you have that then of course is time for implementation (Organization alignment, Process implementation, Coaching and people development, Talent acquisition support).
In order to really accelerate or safeguard the revenue during and after crisis and get back to the new normal, there's a really big importance around leadership and coaching that even if you're not in a revenue-generating role is just as important. In The New Normal adapting a rhythm as a leader to really focus on the team and ensuring that they're feeling well. And then finally identifying the drivers of Revenue growth and focusing on the people, processes and capabilities to drive success.
Annika McCrea background
She was born and raised in Gothenburg (Sweden) where her father worked for Volvo. When she was 7 years old, they moved to France, but then they also lived in Belgium. This, in Annika’s opinion, shows her openness to different cultures and openness of how different companies look at things.
After studies at the University of Lund and got an M.Sc. in International Business Administration, she moved to New York where she started her first job in the US in a consulting company BTS where she stayed for 22 years within one and the same group. From New York that took her to San Francisco where she had the possibility to start BTS office which later had grown to be the company's largest office around the world. After the dotcom bubble bursting, Annika moved back to New York and stayed with BTS as CEO for one of subsidiaries called Advantage Performance Group.
Moreover, she also experienced the second big economic crisis, which was of course the financial crisis of 2007-2008. At the time, Annika was managing a fairly large 25 million dollar which is large for being in the training and Executive Education industry. Then five years ago, she moved back to Stockholm. Three years ago Annika left that company where she had built a career and where she was a partner and joined a small firm together with a former colleague called BonVent Holdings to build their own business. The firm helps other companies with Revenue transformation and Revenue acceleration.