Running a HR Tech business during and after Covid-19

“Slowdowns are part of business life cycle that are naturally necessary interventions & detoxify the entire global business. Businesses should see opportunities in every adversity. This is a great time to take a break, introspect, analyse & action.”

Manoj Agarwal

By Manoj Agarwal , Co-founder, Chief Product & Operating Officer , Xoxoday

There are various talks around an economic slowdown globally. Slowdowns are part of business life cycle. I feel these are naturally necessary interventions & detoxify the entire global business. It is just the way how our body needs a pause & cleansing. It helps bring back natural balances, puts a break on endless consumerism, brings sanity & reality to human life. However, businesses should not worry about slowdowns, rather they should embrace it. There are opportunities in every adversity. This is a great time to take a break, introspect, analyse & action.

Here are few things which companies, specially start-ups, can do in these times:

  1. Test the business model - If it works now, it will work in good times too 
  2. Innovate - Constraints help you innovate. Think innovation in your business model, processes, teams, marketing, supply, sales & anything else.
  3. Frugality - In everything you do. This will train you forever
  4. Be prudent & calm - Use lot of common sense.
  5. Build irreplaceable business and skills - Upskill to become irreplaceable. Tough times do not last long, tough teams do. Embrace slowdown with positivity & you’ll gain more than you lose.


During this slowdown and lean phase for businesses, two things can help:

  1.  Businesses can use this time to fix all old issues and prepare for the future. e.g. getting your website right, getting your marketing collaterals right, getting your sales processes right, getting your tech architecture right and so on. We are so caught up in day to day that we miss out working on such things during accelerated business times. So, this is good time to do this all.  
  2. Employees can use this time to upskill themselves, learn new things relevant to their roles, expand their roles and so on. Again, during busy business days, you do not get time to work in such areas. Now is a good time to work on scaling up your knowledge and skills.


Do not forget to Personalize

Few decades back, the scale of sales was through offline methods. That ensured personalized discussions, deeper understanding of customers and a solution for each customer. That ensured trust, longevity and high customer lifetime value. With digital age, we are trying to replicate that personalized conversations with customers through various digital tools and hacks. However, whatever hacks we try, nothing can replace a human understanding another human uniquely. If the online sales professionals can start knowing their customers better and speak/write to them with personalized conversations as per their pain points/need etc, the results are much better. Ten unique mails/calls with deeper customer understanding give far better results than 1000 "one size fits all" kind of mails or calls. This needs investment of time, but it is worth a lot. Try this out and you will see the difference in conversions.


Spend time in planning the “top of the sales funnel” 

Talk about sales reviews and we see an obsession with downstream outcomes. We tend to spend too less time on planning the upstream and getting the top funnel right. Companies get different kinds of leads from different sources. These leads get assigned to SDRs/sales executives etc through some randomized round robin process, automation or manually. This is the single most important activity in the sales cycle which gets least importance. Every lead assignment needs to be checked if it is going to the right person. E.g. if a CXO lead is assigned to a junior/inexperienced salesperson, it will not get justice. If we learn from a similar practice in product-tech teams, the user stories/requirements/features are assigned by a senior tech who understand which feature should be assigned to which person in the team as per the complexity, capabilities, priorities etc. It is never a round robin/automation process or left to decision to someone with very less experience. Similarly, the top of the funnel in sales process, should be handled with utmost care through a careful lead assignment methodology. If your lead assignment process itself has errors, the downstream sales would always be sub-optimal. Spend more time in planning the "top of the funnel", the sales outcome depends heavily on this.


Focus on the Positives

The entire lockdown situation has given lot of positives. One of that is, how can we do a lot without traveling. We tend to travel for a meeting or similar which can be easily done on a video call. While all these were possible for few years now, this pandemic has helped every professional really adopt it. I am sure clients, vendors, partners, investors, colleagues would be more willing to save time, fuel, and environment by indulging in more remote conversations in future more willingly. It requires a mindset change on both the clients and sales that a lot can happen over a video call.


Collaboration is key

Crisis situations like today, will bring a new normalcy in the economy. One of these should be partnerships leading to business & socio-economic growth. Rather than wasting resources in competing, how can companies get together to utilize these resources for a larger good? How can companies adopt more barter methods to bring more efficiency in their spends? May be some of these best practices from the past will re-emerge during these crisis times. Life is not a zero-sum game, let us try methods to co-exist.


About Xoxoday

Xoxoday offers business software products to solve problems around employee rewards and recognition, channel sales incentives and consumer promotions. The software products are used by HR leaders, channel managers and brand marketers across 700+ global companies to engage their employees, channel partners, and consumers.

All of Xoxoday’s software products - Empuls, Compass, and Plum - are plug-n-play, highly scalable, easy to use, and help achieve tangible business outcomes. Xoxoday’ software products are enterprise ready, have banking grade security, support hybrid deployment, and offer integrations with existing HRMS software (eg. SAP SuccessFactors) and other systems.

Xoxoday is currently operational in Australia, India, Philippines, Singapore, UAE, UK and USA. We have been recognized as ‘a top 100 SME by Govt. of India’, ‘Best Tech-HR platform by People Matters’, ‘Top 50 Fastest Growing Tech-companies by Deloitte’ and ‘Top 10 SaaS start-ups by Oracle’.


Manoj Agarwal

Manoj Agarwal (Co Founder and Chief Product and Operating officer, Xoxoday) is an MBA and a Computer Science Engineer. He comes with over 14 years of experience in building companies, technology, product, marketing, and business excellence. He has worked with companies like Yahoo, Manipal Education, and Flipkart in various roles. Manoj is active with various industry and technology forums, and has been a regular speaker in various international forums. Manoj is a yoga & sports enthusiast. He is a voracious reader and writes on various topics around entrepreneurship, products, culture, spirituality, and more. LinkedIn 

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