How should SMEs in the SaaS B2B market position themselves if as we all hope we are emerging from the worst impacts of the Covid pandemic?
The USA and other nations are currently increasing the enormous relief measures already in place in many countries. Some are forecasting we are on the cusp of another ‘Roaring Twenties’, when some parts of America celebrated to excess, with the hospitality and travel industries especially getting a much-needed boost, possibly to the point of overload?
McKinsey & Company states in its Global Economics Intelligence report published in February 2021, that “world trade volumes now exceed pre-pandemic levels” and ‘official unemployment rates are declining. There were also a record number of new businesses started up in the USA last year; ESG pressures continue to increase; low interest rates persist but tensions between nations are increasing as a result of Brexit, vaccine nationalisation and so on.
Will the mass adoption of working from home (WFH) which has catapulted the adoption of many cloud-based applications – Zoom being the prime example – slow down to a more normal, steady pace. Will that give businesses breathing space to catch their breath with CTOs, for instance restoring their oversight on all things technology, back to what it used to be in many large organisations?
The answer is there is no one answer of course. But one thing is for sure – the tech entrepreneurs we work with will be agile enough to adapt to whatever comes at them.
They have already made difficult business, sometimes ‘survival’ choices, considerably helped I believe by ScaleUp Group guiding them to additional capital- ostensibly for growth but some used instead to handle the consequences of the pandemic. But we all know survival is not a destination. It is of course a pre-requisite to becoming a ‘Global Champion’ so I’m sure our entrepreneurs especially are asking themselves “what should we be doing now to be best positioned going forward?” in other words, to be ‘Fighting Fit’.
This to either sustain the high growth they are already enjoying from being a cloud-based business during this pandemic or to get back to that growth path if they and/or their markets have been suffering.
We at ScaleUp Group suggest you focus on these key aspects of your business: Clients, Competition, your Product and Go to Market Strategy and of course your Staff. In the interests of brevity, I’ll be looking at the external ones only in this article.
To set the tone I like this quote from an article onCrunchbase “Now more than ever, each and every interaction that prospects, customers and staff have with your company needs to come from a place of empathy and understanding and to focus on the “human element” as we all balance shifting challenges with the need to keep moving forward.”
‘Fighting Fit’ starts by asking yourself these two questions:
——My Clients/Prospects/Partners – how will they have changed?
——The Competitors – who amongst them will be the Winners and Losers?
Your answer to these two questions should determine how you decide to defend and/or increase your market share – by shaping your Product Development plans and your Go to Market strategy.
- My Clients/Prospects/Partners
Addressing that first big question should trigger some subsidiary questions:
Clients. How will their needs change in what will be the new ‘normal’ for them and their industry? Some hit hard now such as in Travel, Hospitality and High Street Retail, if they have survived at all, may well have completely different infrastructures than before. Conversely, others such as Home Delivery Services might be struggling to cope with the heavy demand. How can you help them with such different challenges?
Prospects. What has changed in their business model and decision making? Enterprise selling is very relationship-based, often multilevel. Have some of your contacts moved on? Have you changed some of your team? Should you be planning to have physical meetings again – before your competitors do? What impact is there on your brand, marketing approach and selling proposition including pricing? What enhancements will your prospects now want from your product, your support and your terms?
Partners. There are similar considerations regarding your relationship with any channel partners you have. In some cases, these are your only window to your ultimate end consumer, so they should be listened to carefully.
——a. Get the views of your largest, most dynamic clients, but ideally all of them
——b. Then create one or more scenarios of how they might change post CV crisis
——c. Do the same with your top and closest Prospects
——d. Ditto your Partners
The big question: What will your competition be doing – or have they done already – to address similar issues? Have they blossomed or suffered during the pandemic? Maybe like you, they have raised cash in this time, so what will they be doing with it now? Or instead, maybe they are desperate and will be slashing their prices to generate cash from sales to survive?
——a. Assess which of your competitors will be the losers.
——b. Conversely which will be better able to respond to the recovery – the winners?
——c. Does this create opportunities to acquire new clients in your current markets, who might otherwise struggle to get what they now want?
——d. Likewise, in new markets with weakened competition e.g. on-Premise players in a world moving faster to the Cloud?
——e. Assess how competitor behaviour may influence exit outcomes.
- Go to Market ‘GTM’ Strategy
Based upon your answers to 1 and 2 above ask yourselves these questions:
——a. Should you stay in all of your current markets or rationalise to a few?
——b. Would expanding indirect channels be useful or not?
——c. Conversely, would doing more sales directly be useful?
——d. Where do international markets fit?
——e. What are the implications for Lead Generation – outbound and inbound?
——f. What part will Brand Development play in the ‘new world’?
——g. Create ‘tactical gain’ campaigns – where completion is weakened?
——h. Is ‘Account-Based Selling’ with a more personalized focus appropriate?
——a. Reassess and revise your current product roadmap.
——b. What new features are needed? e.g. enabling a higher % of home workers?
——c. Should my product be offered in discrete modules or conversely consolidated?
——d. How will my current product fit in these post CV market(s)?
——None of these decisions can be taken in isolation. For instance, assess if your Finances/Controls need strengthening to handle these ‘new world’ opportunities.
Only by weaving together the answers you’ve given will you be able to identify what is ‘the biggest bang for your buck’ from exploring a number of composite strategies.
This should include which ones can be worked on without jeopardising the existing business by calculating what is an acceptable level of risk should your new strategy not work out? Also, figure out how to manage any ‘transition’ from where you are today.
ScaleUp Group helps our clients navigate through demanding times by not only securing ‘smart money’ but by providing templates and Playbooks, such as a ‘Go to Market’ plan; Organisational Structures and surveys of Compensation Packages in similar businesses and so on, as well as being extremely well connected and a sounding board of seasoned entrepreneurs and 22 ex CEOs who have themselves experienced some tough challenges before achieving their success.
This is all to ensure your business is in the best possible condition i.e. is ‘Fighting Fit’.
Read Part 2 here.