While the pandemic has presented obstacles for almost every industry, the tech-driven SaaS space has proved a remarkable area to work and grow in during this time.
We have seen big shifts in how, when and where people work, remote working and collaboration technologies have taken over, and individuals’ priorities have changed – and due to the industry shifts in SaaS, opportunities and sales skills within the field have transformed.
The biggest industry shifts across SaaS
The biggest shifts I’ve witnessed have come from the willingness to embrace collaboration technology. In the early stages of the pandemic, many people were forced to work from home, an experience they hadn’t had before. Now using Teams, Slack, Zoom and numerous collaboration and productivity apps has become the norm. Whereas before, people were hesitant to turn their camera on for a sales call (both the seller and customer), it has now become second nature for everybody.
Selling throughout the pandemic has been interesting in the SaaS field, because most people have been relying heavily on platforms like Zoom and Slack.
At Coupa we have also introduced digital resources like Consensus to automate pre-sales and give demonstrations to customers – it helps to speed up the education process for our prospects. Also, now that most customers are happy to communicate via video instead of face-to-face, we have primarily offered this as a means of communication between us.
Aligning skills and priorities
Throughout the pandemic I’ve been making sure that I stay up-to-date with all the technologies at my disposal.
I also recently enjoyed completing an online Leadership Challenge run by Australian public speaker and leadership consultant, Holly Ransom. About 600 people participated, and whether you were an aspiring or current leader, or simply looking to broaden your skills, there was value for everyone. The biggest thing I learned was the power of the ‘pause’ before you start your day, as a circuit breaker, or before you speak. Teamwork and leadership requires different skills in this new era and I just loved participating in the challenge!
Aside from that, I’ve embraced the skill of online networking, meeting some amazing people on virtual calls and coffee dates. Being present and focused on a Zoom call is a new skill in itself! I’ve been interviewing candidates via virtual technology as well, as we build out our team here in Australia, and interviewing on Zoom versus in person requires a high level of energy, active listening and empathy.
Last, but not least, I’ve learnt the art of ‘switching off’. During the day, I enjoy circuit breakers from all the emails and meetings, with a quick walk or visit to the beach. And while working into the night was never suggested or expected of me, I was pushing myself to do so at first. Now, however, I have learned to set myself boundaries between home and work, and once I’ve finished at 5pm, I am truly finished.
I have invested more time in training, education and development in certain areas. We have a great library of content in our internal university, but I also subscribe to LinkedIn Learning courses.
My time management skills have been a focus for me. As an example, when working from home, it is essential to figure out how you can spend less time on Zoom and more time outside meetings and being productive. This means learning to ensure meetings are as efficient as possible, and time well spent.
With regard to communication skills with customers, I think it has become more important than ever to be clear with them around your messaging and build a strong rapport right from the very start. With phone and video calls replacing in-person interaction, it takes an even more concerted effort to build a good relationship with your customers.
Finally, I have placed a lot of emphasis on my health and wellness. Things like Zoom fatigue, and a lack of face-to-face contact with others have been challenging for our mental health. So, I take time out from doing video calls whenever I can and have learned to schedule in time for the things that keep me feeling healthy and happy, both physically and emotionally.
Thanks for sharing your insights with us Alicia and Jess!