The Daily Briefing: May 21, 2020

May 21, 2020

Jackie Goudreault

On today’s Daily Briefing, Jim Benton was joined by the VP of Sales from Guru, JJ Feroni. They discussed the longterm impact of remote work on business, coaching, and knowledge share.

Set up for some remote work, still need to adjust #

Like many tech companies, remote work was relatively accepted. Industries have been moving more towards flexible work hours and remote work policies. COVID-19 sped this up, certainly. And it doesn’t look like we’ll snap back to full force in office when we are finally past this.

“It doesn’t feel like this environment is going away anytime soon,” said JJ. “In fact, the research shows that the most of workforce is going to work from home through 2021. Employees are realizing that they can be productive remotely. Managers are realizing they can be just as effective remotely.”

While we have largely accepted working from home may well be the new normal for years to come, companies are still adjusting.

“We have to determine what changes we have to make,” said JJ. “We have to determine things like how we are coaching and what our tech stack looks like.”

Guru has a large team. Working from home impacts everyone differently, but as a whole, the org seems to have adjusted well. And Guru has taken the necessary steps to ensure that they keep their teams whole - in work and in health.

“People are pretty attuned to interacting with work from home activities,” JJ said. And yet they want to make sure that their team has everything they need to succeed. “We ask how they can be more productive. Do they have what they need?”

It’s a top-down mindset. “Guru as a whole has taken a people first mindset to make sure everyone is doing well in terms of mental health,” he explained.

We’re coaching to be more flexible in our sales motion. We’re leaning more into product-led growth.

Coaching and knowledge transfer reduce friction in remote teams #

Finding answers quickly, as they come up, decreases friction in the sales cycle.

“When we survey users, we find that they need to be able to have productive conversations with confidence in front of customers,” said JJ. “And they need to spend less time pinging internal subject matter experts.”

Because of the climate, leaders have adapted policies, methodologies, and expanded their tech stacks. To increase practical know-how across teams, coaching has adapted too.

Guru, for example, is teaching their teams to be more flexible. “We’re coaching to be more flexible in our sales motion. Before COVID we were leaning into product-led growth so that prospects can feel the product out. We’re leaning more into that now. Buyers are changing the way they buy. They want to experience it before they make the case internally.

So we’re coaching our team to prioritize that. It’s about getting them to understand the impact on having prospects see the value first.”

What long term impact might happen

What long term impact might happen?

More executive access, more scrutiny #

We’ve reported a consistent and significant increase in leadership presence on calls. JJ shared that this has caused their sales cycles to lengthen.

“It’s only been a month and a half, but we’re seeing these taking longer. It's why we’re leaning into product-led growth. It makes it easier when someone is in the product to see the value,” he said.

Leadership presence has increased the structured nature of the buying process. “It’s become more hierarchical. We’ve seen our sales process has extended 30%. The process requires more verbals. They’re auditing more and only buying things that are critical.”

Pre-COVID, they were quoted on meetings held. But we saw the sales process shift. The ADR team is now responsible for product-led account creation.

Experimenting with immediate value to drive pipeline #

Guru’s ADR team has had to shift the way they measure productivity.

“Pre-COVID, they were quoted on meetings held,” said JJ. “But we saw the sales process shift. The ADR team is now responsible for product-led account creation. If the prospect gets in the product, they’re most likely to buy.”

They’re getting creative. “We’re trying creative ways to get them to create an account in Guru,” he said. Like putting a personalized video together, so they can see the product without having to get a Guru account.

It’s about creating value right away.

And they have some wins to point to.

“It’s harder to get meetings with people in this environment. People aren’t buying right now or they are still adjusting. So getting people into the product - that’s been the focus of the team - and we’ve seen some wins there.”

That’s what Chorus and Guru are about. How to empower your people to be successful is so important in this environment.

Keeping your teams whole, motivated, and healthy #

Guru takes their people first approach very seriously.

“An OKR at Guru is around people feeling motivated and wanting to work here,” said JJ. “We’re really focused on it. My job is to make sure they feel like they work in a place where they feel supported and successful.”

In fact, they’re giving everyone the next four Fridays off. “Even though we would tell people to take time off, they wouldn’t because they don’t have anywhere to go. So we decided to shut it down. We’re always thinking about ways we can avoid burnout. How can we get them to sell not just today, but also a year from now.”

Jim asked if JJ has been able to apply this to himself. “Yeah, I took last Friday off. The only conversation we’ve had to talk about is how to adapt the sales team.” They wanted to make sure that expectations were aligned and they weren’t simply cramming five days of work into four.

Ultimately, Guru is trying to eliminate stressors from this new environment. Among other things, Gurus can work with their People Ops team to make sure they have everything they need to set up a home office.

JJ left us with a parting word of optimism about how tech is making this change manageable.

“Guru helps,” he said. “One of the things that leads to frustration is not being able to get the answers, having to ping people and then wait for their answers. That’s what Chorus and Guru are about. How to empower your people to be successful is so important in this environment.”

How many actions are being taken by managers to support training and improvement

How many actions are being taken by managers to support training and improvement?

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