How to Recover From a Business Crisis: Software and SaaS Providers

June 15, 2020
Contributor: Andrew Conrad

As providers change gears from survival to recovery, they need a strategic plan to adapt to shifting customer priorities and ensure business continuity.

The COVID-19 pandemic created a crisis situation for many in the business-to-business (B2B) community. B2B software and SaaS providers, in particular, have had to adapt to customers’ shrinking budgets and shifting stakeholder priorities. As providers begin to adjust their crisis management plans from survival to recovery, they need the right tools and strategies to ensure a sustainable transition.

In our recent webinar, Gartner Digital Markets’ Andrew Rosenblatt and Mark DiGiammarino discussed recovery strategy and next steps for software and SaaS providers to navigate the current business cycle and future organizational resilience.

Read on for three main take-aways from their discussion, and check out the full on-demand webinar recording here.
 

Take-away 1: Apply recovery lessons from the last recession

While there can be no direct comparison for the crisis situation around COVID-19, the last great recession (2007–2008) offers some valuable lessons to help navigate the current cycle.

Of companies that were on equal footing with each other in 2008, those with contingency plans focused on strategic initiatives and investments broke out of the peak of the recession at a much more accelerated recovery rate compared to those that halted spending.

Place emphasis on business continuity. “Think long term. Don’t slash your budgets, but really focus on optimizing costs,” Rosenblatt said. “Your sales teams are still going to need leads; make sure that you’re not starving your sales organization for those leads.”

How can software and SaaS providers create a crisis management plan to grow efficiently coming out of the disruption caused by COVID-19 crisis? Rosenblatt and DiGiammarino recommend a three-pronged approach to recovery:

  1. Lead generation

  2. Customer reviews

  3. Landing page and marketing collateral optimization

Take-away 2: Act now for future success during crisis recovery

It’s understandable to think companies might have frozen or significantly reduced their software spend during this crisis situation, but our research actually shows the opposite is true. Gartner Digital Markets recently surveyed more than 500 B2B software buyers for our Digital Transformation Survey to gain insight into how the COVID-19 crisis has affected the software buying process. In fact, 72% of the businesses surveyed are either spending at the same rate or even accelerating their software purchasing, so create a plan to be ready for them.

“The things you do today could impact you quarters, if not years, down the road, and companies that take a more level approach to this are really going to see that result in continuing lead gen investment positively impacting their business,” DiGiammarino says.

That same survey also shows software spending has shifted from certain categories to others. For example, software categories such as live streaming, telemedicine and web conferencing have seen exponential boosts in traffic since mid-February 2020 — when millions of workers shifted to remote work — while others, such as document management and auto repair saw some decline. Buyers within those categories are starting to return, however, as the economy enters recovery.

How should SaaS providers respond to those shifts? In cases where your software includes document management and web conferencing features, for example, now is the time to highlight those features and outline how they can help connect and support remote teams.

B2B buyers in markets that may enter recovery sooner (in some non-U.S. markets, for example) are more likely to engage with a software product when the supplier’s landing pages are localized by region, translated into the native language of that region and optimized for conversion, with critical features highlighted.
 

Take-away 3: Focus next on a new business approach

Another effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on buyer behavior can be seen in the blurring of weekend and weekday activity online. Take advantage of bumps in weekend activity, in particular, by reconsidering how sales and customer support resources can respond to that shift.

For example, dayparting — the dated pay-per-click (PPC) bidding strategy of adjusting PPC campaign bids to save money or reach target audiences — could prove particularly detrimental to campaign success in this crisis climate. When bidding pauses on weekends or during certain times of day, teams miss out on sales opportunities and the new anytime-anywhere lead connections taking place.

Take advantage of increased buyer traffic on the weekends and automate sales outreach communication to ensure buyers receive timely responses. Email outreach and appointment setting for product demonstrations or sales conversations can all be automated to engage buyers until your team is back online.

Get in touch to learn more about creating customized pay-per-click and pay-per-lead campaigns optimized for success.
 

Methodology

The software buyer survey referenced in this article was conducted by GetApp from March 25 to April 5, 2020, and included more than 5,500 respondents. The respondents were website visitors on getapp.com, and the number of respondents varied by question.

The digital transformation survey referenced in this article was conducted by GetApp in April 2020 among 503 respondents who reported executive leadership roles at small businesses with 250 or fewer employees.
 

Andrew Conrad
Andrew is a Senior Content Writer for Gartner Digital Markets, where he writes about small business and technology with a focus on retail. He has also covered everything from accounting to church management to project management. Andrew and his wife, Emily, live in Austin with their rescue dog, Piper, who loves hiking on the Greenbelt Trail. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn.

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