By Clyde Fernadez

3 ways to succeed in uncharted territory

Three ways leaders can succeed in uncharted territory 

Organisations were already facing fast-growing change and looking for ways to get in front of disruption – and then a history-altering pandemic dominated the past two years. Now, teams are navigating even faster change and even more urgent imperatives to adapt processes and operations.

These were some of the challenges explored by Clyde Fernandez, Salesforce’s Regional VP, Platform and Revenue Cloud, during the “Making the Revenue Connection: Best Practices for Growth” webinar. Leaders are juggling larger buying teams, longer decision processes and new revenue streams, making many processes more complex than ever.

How can organisations turn this complexity and uncertainty into opportunity? Clyde shared three big pieces of advice for today’s challenges.

Double down on bold, empathetic leadership 

The pandemic has sparked conversations on what leadership needs to look like now. This is a type of leadership that’s simultaneously bolder and more empathetic than before, one that factors in broader societal and systemic issues. 

This doesn’t mean ignoring growth or profits aside. Instead, it’s a matter of understanding these issues and how they intersect with business performance – and then making bold leadership decisions accordingly. Consumers are no longer only concerned with the product or service they are receiving, but with both how they’re receiving it, and the behaviours of the business that’s delivering it. 

Clyde distilled this leadership style into curiosity, adaptability, responsiveness and empathy (or CARE, for anyone looking for a handy acronym). The core idea is that leadership is now a conversation between business and the wider world – whether with the consumer, market trends or society at large. The closer a leader’s ear is to the ground, the more they’re able to stay agile alongside shifting mindsets and behaviours. 

It’s important for certain roles to take the leadership reins more often, too. Some teams – for example, sales operations – are used to assuming a supportive, reactive role. But these teams have great positions to transform the sales and revenue processes that act as an organisation’s lifeblood. Proactive recommendations and an eye for continuous improvement, especially if combined with a CARE approach, can turn these roles into strategic leaders who transform their businesses for the better.

Improve data and processes through streamlining and unification

For many organisations, the pandemic forced the wheel of digital acceleration, but customer-centricity is what continues to turn it. And the only way to achieve customer-centricity is through a deep understanding of who the customer is and what they want. 

Clyde noted that, in order to achieve this level of intimacy and to thrive in the digital-first world, leaders need to bring processes and departments together in new and novel ways. In many instances, this means breaking down of (or at least, the weaving together of) silos through the integration of customer data. 

But unified customer data isn’t the only necessity for growth. Transparent, streamlined organisational data is also critical.

“Revenue data is the most valuable data to all parts of their organisation because it impacts sales, operations, finance, marketing, and of course, customer service teams,” Clyde explained.

A clear view of all this data, when coupled with an equally deep visibility into customer data, forms a mighty duo that puts the right information in the hands of the right functions and employees, while at the same time creating the right experience for customers. 

Along with the unification of data, successful organisations are likely to be those who find ways to drive smarter, more streamlined processes – ones that use capabilities like AI or automation to take time-consuming manual tasks off employees’ plates. Solutions like Revenue Cloud and a RevOps model can stitch together data and ensure that every team who touches a sales process is empowered to focus on great customer experiences and continuous improvement.

Take new approaches to the talent scarcity

Pandemics have a way of rearranging society – and people’s priorities. We’re seeing this play out in the United States, where labour force participation has dropped, as well as here in Australia, where many workers are leaving their usual jobs as they reconsider what they actually want from their careers. This is often referred to as ‘The Great Resignation’, with Australians seeking more flexible working arrangements or less stress.

On top of pandemic-fuelled exits, for years rapid digitisation has been driving demand for newer skill sets and deep domain expertise. Traditional credentials like graduate degrees are no guarantee for this expertise, and people with the desire to pick up these skills don’t always have access to the learning. As Clyde explains, employers may need to take more nuanced approaches to assessing job suitability and upskilling current employees.

For instance, Clyde says that a shift toward micro-credentialing and just-in-time skills can help employers tackle this scarcity in expertise. New platforms and portals are arising every day to tackle the need for this type of credentialing. 

One such platform is Salesforce’s Trailhead, which Clyde says allows anyone to learn new technical and soft skills in a way that’s fun, flexible and free.” Platforms like Trailhead – which now boasts 2 million unique users – not only helps in the creation of new talent, but helps to upskill the talent you already have. This can create a virtuous cycle of upskilling that begets more upskilling.

“You can actually upskill your existing talent so that they empower non-tech people to learn and provide instant solutions for their employees, customers, partners and the wider community,” says Clyde.

In other words, while talent scarcity is a challenge, new ecosystems are becoming something akin to talent multipliers, leading to upskilling individuals and teams in both direct and indirect ways.

And the good news is that this technology can be leveraged to meet the need for talent from anywhere, which in 2021 is less of a bonus and more of an imperative. 

Moving forward is a delicate dance

With unprecedented change comes a strong need to be in the moment. Yes, decisions that impact the future must be made, but committing to such decisions without keeping one eye on the shifting landscape is not the way forward. The more businesses are able to put processes and systems in place that allow room for movement, the more they’ll be able to turn existing and unforeseen challenges into opportunities.

See the rest of the conversation on demand.

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