remote working coronavirus

7 key business challenges to face during the coronavirus crisis

There’s no question that the coronavirus is a humanitarian tragedy, disrupting all our lives for the foreseeable future. Changing the way we work and highlighting the need to be effective, efficient and innovative in business. In this blog, we hear insights from leaders on how to leverage technology to support employee needs and customer demands.

The choice to work remotely has been a growing trend for several years, as of last week it is a way of life for all. The internet, cloud computing and mobile phones have enabled and empowered workforces to remain connected across geographies — a literal lifesaver as we all stay indoors to avoid further contagion.

The challenge for most, though is how do we remain productive and keep our companies running smoothly and securely?

1- Leading with empathy

Many in the workforce won’t know if their jobs and families are safe, so focussing on what customers need may not be at the front of their mind. It is, therefore, critical to ensure you connect with your team members regularly and have a way to capture ongoing conversations and customer care issues.

Now is the time to be precise and clear in communicating your organisation’s plans, both internally and externally.

“Transparency is one of our key values”, says Luke Pigott, CEO at PhiX. “It was critical for us to be open with the team about how we planned to operate in the weeks ahead. Being transparent and open builds trust and cohesion. Enabling us to problem solve in the face of adversity.”

2 – Preparing for the pace of change

Whether a business experiences a surge or a lull in demand during the Coronavirus crisis, your IT systems and leaders need to prepare. If customer questions and concerns on orders are likely to increase, building capacity for self-service via chatbots, apps and email can help manage the frequently asked questions. Freeing up your customer service teams to handle more complex queries.

If you require more compassion in the circumstances, then virtual meetings or phone calls are needed, which is especially paramount in the B2B and education sector.

Individuals switching to virtual conferences or video is on the rise and enables a broader, more global audience than the classroom facilitates! An example of this is Joe Wicks PE Class, which reached nearly 1 million people this morning globally.

The need to adapt products to meet current demand is critical as we have seen with Zara, the fast-fashion brand. Who announced that they would donate face masks and hospital gowns for Coronavirus patients and healthcare workers in Spain amid the shortage caused by the pandemic. Sharp, the Japanese electronics manufacturer, has converted one of its factories to make face masks. Showing the ability to shift physical and digital resources in support of the global crisis. Perfume-makers, including Givenchy and Christian Dior, have switched production to make hand sanitisers.

3 – Is this the new normal?

Sandy Shen, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner says “Businesses that can shift technology capacity and investments to digital platforms will mitigate the impact of the outbreak and keep their companies running smoothly now, and over the long term.”

No business processes are perfect, but when multiple issues arise, it delays projects and causes financial risk. Having a continuous process improvement plan to review operations will highlight bottlenecks. Ensuring you are proactively managing processes and methods.

It’s no good sticking plasters over the gaps in your workflow as we’re going to be in this for an unknown length of time.

Some changes may be incremental, a small change that can be applied to a process to make things run smoothly. Give your team a place to share these suggestions and review them regularly.

Breakthrough improvement projects are more significant changes that yield business-altering results, they can take longer to implement but will drive considerable return. At PhiX, we help companies review their business processes to work through these projects to streamline their operations.

4 – Marketing in uncertain times

Getting the balance right between promotion and cost-cutting is a difficult one.

The rapid repositioning of the government strategy to manage the spread of the Coronavirus signals a change that dramatically alters all our lives. For businesses, the full impact is still unknown, and for many, the challenge will be surviving.

Costs, product lines, supply chain and headcount, will be carefully examined as well as marketing spends and strategies. Marketing can appear an expense to cut in downturns. But when the economy starts to pick up again, the ones that will thrive are those that balance operational efficiency with strategic investment, with marketing being a key element.

Progressive companies stay closely connected to customer needs—a powerful filter through which to make investment decisions.

What new marketing strategies can you adopt to ensure your business not only survives the pandemic but comes out stronger?

"It's only when we get kicked down that we see what we are made of. It's easy to be positive when everything is going well, but the heart of all great endeavours is the ability to stagger back to our feet and keep moving forward, however grim it gets."

Bear Grylls

5 – Community makes us stronger

Being part of the solution involves supporting your community, whether it’s geographic or industry-specific. Together we are more robust and calling on others to help you is vital to short-term problem solving and long-term success.

Salesforce Chair and CEO Marc Benioff shared that to support the global response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic; Salesforce is providing a COVID-19 Response Package. The pack offers free access to technology for emergency response teams, call centres, and care management teams for health systems affected by Coronavirus.

What action can you take to support your local or industry community to aid the fight against the virus?

6 – Resourcing for the short-term

Agile planning of your most valuable resource is critical at a time like this. Having a long-term plan will work as an overview to keep you focused but being able to plan, track and forecast your team’s time will keep you moving at speed. Precursive’s resource management product allows you to find the right people for projects, allocate work quicker and balance workloads for your team. They are also working closely with Salesforce to bring out a community-based product to support remote teams.

An example of this on a large scale is the U.K. government’s appeal on Tuesday for 250,000 “people in good health” to help its health service cope with the coronavirus outbreak. The health secretary, Matt Hancock, said on the same day that 11,788 retired NHS staff had agreed to come back to work to help tackle the crisis.

At PhiX, we are offering our consultancy services to clients to support healthcare and manufacturing organisations when they need it most. By pulling together our best resources, we will be strong enough to see this through.

7 – Practical and social solutions for remote working

Did you know research shows a lack of social connection heightens health risks as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day?  So make time to check in on colleagues, friends, family and neighbours regularly.

If you are used to working from home, then there’s no change to your work set up. But for many, adapting and learning to communicate virtually is a steep learning curve.

Practical solutions like Quip for collaboration, Google Hangout for team chats, and Zoom for video conferencing are rising as the winning solutions. For digital documents, e-signatures with Conga makes contract management faster and more simplified. Salesforce Trailhead provides free learning resources on working remotely, as does LinkedIn Learning.

Quip combines documents and collaboration so that wherever we are, you can share and align ideas, update communications and stay in the loop with discussions. Quip Starter will be available for free to any Salesforce customer or non-profit organisation through September 30, 2020.

“Our ability to socialise has been degraded,”

Says Jonathan Corrie, CEO of Precursive who has introduced ‘Wine Wednesday’ with the team as a space to unwind with colleagues. “Whether it’s an alcoholic drink or not, the idea is to connect socially, just like you would in a wine bar or outside of the workplace. The team also has a daily nonsense call to chat and hang out with staff members and share whatever is on their mind.”

With many approaching the end of their first week of social isolation, what have you learnt about your employee needs? About the needs of your community and your industry to cope with the current crisis? What issues have come up repeatedly or do you see as potential risks to your business workflow?

Get in touch if you need any support with your Salesforce CPQ or Billing processes pre or post-implementation. Or if you would like to learn more about the products that can help make remote working more streamlined.

Start a conversation

expense management

Top financial uncertainties stem from travel and expenses

new survey of 500 senior finance professionals across the UK and US exposes the underlying issues faced by businesses when it comes to calculating the financial return of corporate travel and expense spend. Identified as the biggest variable cost to a company (26.8%), closely followed by people costs such as salaries (25.8%), the research also shows that 60% of companies aren’t able to link their business travel and expense spend to revenue data.

Commercial teams spending the most but ROI not visible

Though variable, uncontrollable costs can hamper business growth, with almost half of respondents revealing that they don’t understand the ROI of business travel and expense spend, therefore declaring it the most unpredictable cost (39%) rather than a positive visible revenue generator.

Furthermore, 70% of organisations lack the insight to forecast travel and expense spend accurately – and nearly half don’t have full visibility of the ROI it brings in. Despite 60% of those surveyed recognising that investment in business travel is essential to business growth. When you consider that commercial teams (sales, marketing and customer success) account for 80% of business travel and expense spend, finance leaders need a way to justify business travel as an enabler for growth.

The paradox of travel bans

The lack of ability to forecast underlines the 48% of respondents who reported that their company had implemented a company-wide travel ban. 73% think that travel bans would be a thing of the past if they could better forecast business travel and expense spend.

“It’s clear that many companies feel they don’t have the necessary handle on travel and expense spend, though this is through no fault of their own. To date, lack of acceptance on the use of siloed systems and processes, using disparate historical data that is unable to provide actionable insights. This is why travel bans are still happening, which in turn, actually restricts business growth by limiting commercial teams’ ability to close business,” said Manoj Ganapathy, Founder & CEO of SalesTrip.

“If organisations were able to better manage, track and forecast spend according to business activity or purpose, business leaders will be able to evidence travel as revenue-generating. In turn not only would travel bans become a thing of the past, but corporate travel would be widely considered as an enabler of business growth rather than a necessary evil,” concluded Ganapathy.

For the majority of organisations, expense tracking is also an admin-intensive process. 70% of finance teams spend more than one day per month, tracking business travel and expenses, and nearly half (43%) spend more than two days per month. Only 13% of mid-market companies (101-5000 employees) say that their finance teams could collate expense spend within 24 hours.

Finance leaders underserved by current technologies

When asked what organisations most wanted from their travel and expense system, survey respondents provided the following wish list: help with annual budgeting, insight into profitability per client, visibility of cost per sale, and calculation of ROI against spend.

The same research shows that 40% of organisations have seen a slowdown in their sales pipeline since Brexit, with a further 32% remaining static. In the run up to a potential Brexit, 62% foresee a need to cut back on company costs such as business travel, making the case for better visibility of spend more important than ever.

Why Quote to Cash is only half the journey

Disruptive technology is pushing organisations to explore their business processes and design end-to-end solutions that will automate and accelerate the flow of data across teams.

Business silos, disconnected apps, incomplete data and a lack of priority from the leadership team to address these issues is no longer an option for fast-moving, high-growth businesses.

Consumers are looking to buy what they need at a click of a button and expectations are high for the business to keep up or lose market share. According to Salesforce research, “70 percent of customers say that they expect connected experiences in which their preferences are known across touchpoints.”

Working towards a user-centric approach

To meet consumer expectations and deliver an exceptional customer experience, all business units from marketing to sales through to fulfilment and billing must come together. Creating one platform, end-to-end, that delivers one source of truth across the organisation.

The Lead to Ledger process focuses on the customer journey, in the moments that matter, from Lead generation to the general Ledger. Mapping transaction costs such as travel expenses and resource planning into the sales journey to give a more accurate view for all business units. Thus enabling the CFO to have access to real-time data and contextual intelligence and feeding back into the sales teams to sell faster and smarter. Quote to Cash brings together Configuring, Pricing, Quoting and Billing to manage business costs as well as sales opportunities. Legacy revenue management systems simply won’t cut it!

Leads: AI and marketing working together

AI in mar-tech is streamlining efforts for the marketing department, automating repetitive tasks, and handling complex workflows to drive results. Freeing up marketers to focus on the part of the job that requires the most humanity – engaging and serving customers.

Ninety-one percent of consumers are more likely to buy from brands that offer relevant information and recommendations. 80% are more likely to purchase from a brand that personalises their customer experience, and 72% only engage with targeted marketing messages.

Connecting marketing to sales

Harnessing the power of AI to highlight high scoring leads that can be alerted to sales, enables more responsiveness to customers’ needs and interests, through the right messaging, on the most appropriate channel. Generating valuable insights for sales to close the deal faster and smarter.

Without a connected system, salespeople can spend days tracking down customer data, contacting them on a whim without fully understanding the buyer intent.

When you have multiple configurable products, a client base with varying complexities, and salespeople or accountancy departments who are working across numerous orders. As well as operating different systems at the same time, there’s a huge risk of revenue leakage, and relationships with clients can be challenging. With artificial intelligence and good quality contact information, the sales teams can spend more time engaging and targeting the right opportunities.

Understanding the customer through effective engagement enables the sales team to gather information to recommend the right solution, whether it’s a product or a service.

The true cost of sale

Product catalogues are getting more complex as customer demands increase. Sales reps are entrusted to know all the product specifications, limitations, special offers and ‘deals of the day’ to keep up with the different customisations. If they get it wrong, the business pays a hefty price, not only in potential loss of revenue but also in reputation.

Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) allows all the products, options, discounts and prices to be loaded in one system ready for quotes to be configured, priced and sent to the customer in minutes.

In order to close a sale, a sales executive may want to offer a larger discount or bundle products together to increase the overall package. With a unified system, the sales person will know the limits, ensuring the deal is profitable and can be delivered as promised. It also identifies opportunities to up-sell, cross-sell and offer alternatives based on the customer needs.

Streamlined automation

Providing quotes at speed, with confidence on delivery and accuracy on pricing, gives the business a competitive advantage and boosts reputation. The lack of bureaucracy empowers employees and speeds up the process. If a deal size is larger than sign-off, notifications can be activated automatically to ensure all parties are kept informed.

By collecting the relevant data to this point enables a contract to be automatically created, with all line items present as agreed and sent to the client/customer online. The fulfilment team have also got the information they need to arrange delivery. One platform, one source of truth, throughout the journey. But what about the costs?

Managing the bottom-line

Expense management and resource planning can have big cost centres and quite often, aren’t integrated prior to the contract creation. Resulting in revenue leakage, inaccurate reporting and miscalculated commission payments.

This isn’t the fault of the CFO, especially when working across legacy, disparate applications. CFO’s have large realms of data available to them as well as managing all the financial moving parts of the business. Wouldn’t it be powerful if they could put this data to best use to provide more accurate reports and insights?

How do I get started?

A starting point to managing marketing, sales, billing and finance in a more unified way, would be to invest in a discovery session with our technical consultants. Together, we can map out the best way forward.

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    leads to ledger

    It's time to unify the front and back office systems

    As lots of businesses change their pricing models and move towards a Recurring Revenue Model in 2020, it’s more important than ever to get a handle on your key business metrics. Committed Monthly Recurring Revenue, Customer Churn, Customer Acquisition Cost, Customer Lifetime Value, Cash and Circle2Success to name a few!

    Having worked in a start-up that experienced mega growth, I have undergone the pain of not having unified systems. Now it’s time the front and back office systems started talking…


    The beginning of the cloud revolution

    When the cloud systems took over, Salesforce led the way. Their fantastic CRM gave visibility into all sorts of business metrics and made it assessable. CEOs and CROs were able to view powerful dashboards showing bookings, leads, lead conversion and pipeline from any device with an internet connection. Service Cloud also gave great insights into the health of your customers.


    But something was missing…

    I had a vision that the Customer Account record should be a rich source of data, a one-stop-shop for a full view on that particular customer. But, with the lack of financial data (considered ‘back office’) alongside that generated by Salesforce, this wasn’t the case.


    The solution

    Enterprise Resource Planning integrates all your core business processes to offer a more complete view of your performance. Even better is having an ERP solution that seamlessly integrates with the Salesforce platform (or is native to the Salesforce platform). Then, you can truly bring together your front and back office systems to form a comprehensive understanding of your business and customers.

    Imagine navigating to a customer record and being able to see all opportunities associated to the account, all cases raised by that customer, the value (ARR / MRR) that customer is worth, invoices outstanding, DSO for that customer. The data and analytics possibilities are endless from a company level right down to a customer level.


    The power of the finance team

    Using an ERP solution that is native to Salesforce (such as FinancialForce, Accounting Seed and ZumZum Financials) adds even more information to your Salesforce Accounts and Opportunities. This means the finance team can become true business partners, provide valuable insights back into the business and help make more valuable and informed decisions. As a result, you get a 360° view of not only your customers but your business too. Again, this data can be accessed from any device, meaning you can access your data from virtually anywhere!


    What about Quote to Cash?

    Applying a Quote to Cash system can offer faster sales cycles, as well as greater accuracy across contracts. However, trying to then integrate your Quote to Cash process with financial systems can have time and cost implications for businesses. The overriding question leaders ask, is it worth it?


    Overcoming ‘pain points’ in your organisation

    Having a digital strategy mapped to business processes creates sustainable growth. By unifying systems, data, employees and customers through lead to ledger leverages competitive advantage for mid-size and enterprise companies.

    If you’re looking to future-proof the success of your company, implementing a technology solution that connects the customer journey is key and will enable these fundamentals: –

    1. Accelerated information processing across an integrated business network
    2. Increased automation to eliminate manual input and management of orders and invoices
    3. Improved task prioritisation based on value creation and need for exception handling
    4. Less complexity by providing complete, contextual information to speed up approvals
    5. One point of truth for all your sales and financial forecasting and reporting
    6. Smarter, agile collaboration that fosters intelligent cooperation, productivity and engagement
    7. Streamlined business and operational optimisation based on process flexibility, real-time analytics, and full-scale visibility

    However you decide to unify your CRM and ERP, the benefits are undeniable.


    Contact a member of the team to discuss the business benefits for your organisation.

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