If there were ever a time to take your business from being offline (brick and mortar) to online (completely virtual), that moment is now. But before you dive in, it’s important to do some research and formulate a strategic plan. Here are a few helpful tips to consider:
1. Take Everything to the Cloud
If you haven’t already, now is the time to completely transition your business into the cloud. It’s the most efficient and secure way to grow your business in a digital ecosystem.
One of the biggest advantages of moving to the cloud is how it streamlines communication and makes collaboration effortless. It doesn’t matter if an employee is working from a desktop computer in their home office or on a smartphone in an airport halfway across the world, the cloud allows them to access files and information with a few clicks or swipes. This cuts down on much of the back and forth communication that so often slows businesses down and creates unnecessary friction.
2. Create a Digital Hub for Your Team
When you run your business out of a physical location, you have a center. The office is where people gather, communicate, and collaborate. When you go virtual, this physical hub is eliminated. If you aren’t careful, you and your team can start to feel disconnected and unorganized.
The best thing you can do is create a digital hub for your business. A social intranet is perfect for this. Platforms like Happeo make it easy to centralize files, engage in organized communication, and create a “digital home” for your team.
3. Empower Individual Team Members
In order for a virtual business to work, each individual team member has to feel empowered to do their job efficiently and effectively. This requires you to provide them with the necessary tools, freedoms, and opportunities to succeed.
Ask your employees for comments and suggestions. Listen to what they say and apply the feedback that seems reasonable. Not only does this help them practically, but it also signals that you care about them as individuals. That’s a win-win.
4. Rethink Your Sales Approach
Virtual sales is difficult – particularly for sales professionals who have spent the bulk of their careers selling in-person. According to a study by the RAIN Group, 91 percent of salespeople say it’s challenging to gain the buyer’s attention and keep them engaged virtually. Approximately 88 percent say developing relationships with buyers virtually is very difficult.
If you want your team to be successful with virtual sales, they must be educated, trained, and prepared. You’ll also need to exhibit a fair amount of patience over the first few months, because there will be bumps.
Virtual selling can work for your business; however, it’s going to require some work. You’ll need to be strategic with which tools you select (including video conferencing software, email marketing platforms, and even the technology like cameras, microphones, and virtual meeting backdrops or green screens).
Additionally, don’t be surprised if you have to reinvent your sales process. If it used to take two in-person visits to close a sale, it might take four or five virtual meetings to make the same amount of progress. Embrace this new reality and stop comparing it to the past.
5. Invest in Digital Marketing
You’ve probably already made some small investments in digital marketing prior to transitioning to a virtual business model, but now is the time to double-down. The only way to be successful over the long run is to have a strong and visible digital presence that’s purposeful, consistent, and relevant to your audience’s needs and pain points. A well-developed and purposefully architected content strategy will go a long way towards helping you on this front.
Welcome to the New Age of Business
The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated what was already a rapidly growing movement. Now, more than ever, businesses are comfortable with the idea of being 100% virtual. But this doesn’t mean every company that goes virtual will experience success right away. The learning curve is steep and the path is littered with challenges. But if you lean in and establish the correct foundational pillars today, you’ll be better suited for growth in the future.