Rising to the Challenge: How Investing in Our Team Helped VSA Survive 2020
2020 is finally behind us, and though VSA’s entirely virtual “workplace” looks completely different than it did last January, we still managed to end the year even stronger than we began it. As the year went on, we were able to help steadily increasing numbers of clients overcome their own challenges during the pandemic.
This resilience wouldn’t have been possible if not for one critical factor: the skill, dedication, and flexibility of our team.
From the beginning, VSA has believed that, like many skilled employees, business development representatives (BDRs) perform best in a collaborative environment that values their experience and provides opportunities for growth.
We’ve always taken pride in being able to provide such an atmosphere for our employees; in 2020, however, COVID-19 made maintaining that environment more challenging than ever before. While clients started pausing their programs, our leadership team had to act quickly to close the physical office and set up as many employees as possible to work from home. Within only a few short days, our normally bustling Westmont office became a ghost town.
Like so many companies, VSA spent several weeks assessing absolutely everything; we had no clear sense of how COVID would impact our business. At this stage, we were fortunate to have a strong base of ongoing clients who never discontinued their programs. We were able to build on this foundation to develop contingencies and began pivoting towards potential new lines of business.
As bad as things were in May and June, we realized that business would eventually rebound, many clients would come back, and we’d need to scale up quickly. To do that, we’d need to keep our entire team intact.
Therefore, we also prioritized increased BDR training and development. Having been fortunate enough to receive funding through the small business Payroll Protection Act, we wanted to ensure we were using those funds in the most effective way possible.
Specifically, VSA drew from resources available across the web to develop a series of interactive, paid online training workshops that would provide BDRs with multiple opportunities to absorb, discuss, and evaluate the ideas of a variety of sales leaders.
The typical workshop involved both asynchronously viewing of a webinar or video and then convening via Zoom to discuss it as a group. BDRs typically provided their responses to the main topic of the week’s video—such as responding to objections, getting past the gatekeeper, or confidently asking for an appointment—before comparing notes about the finer points of successful cold calling, such as tone of voice, word choice, and inflection. Too often, such nitty-gritty details fall by the wayside in a fast-paced calling environment. Being given the chance to step back and assess their habits allowed many BDRs to make critical adjustments that ultimately translated to better results on the phone.
But it wasn’t only the opportunity to improve skills that made call camps so popular; during the peak of the pandemic, simply spending some time virtually hanging out with other team members helped us stay connected and decompress. Call camps helped VSA bridge the miles now separating us to maintain our collaborative, team-based atmosphere.
Now that we’re busy again, our BDR team is stronger than ever. Furthermore, we’ve improved our coaching process; this fall, VSA hired a full-time quality assurance specialist who will be continuing the legacy of our summer call workshops by providing regular group trainings and 1-on-1 BDR support.
As much as it’s a time for resolutions, the New Year is also an opportunity to reflect on lessons we’ve learned. This year, the pandemic taught us that we can navigate even some of the most daunting challenges by keeping our team together.
After all, it’s the “human touch” that ultimately leads to effective appointment setting. As we close out the most difficult year in recent memory, we couldn’t be prouder of—or more grateful for—our people.