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How To Navigate Business When There Are So Many Unknowns

No doubt COVID-19 has taken us all by surprise in many regards –– personally and professionally. Many startup founders and business leaders are trying to regain their footing with little insight into what the future may hold.

Luckily, the world is filled with brilliant people who are jumping in to help make sense of all of this. Two such people are Jason Lemkin, CEO and Founder of SaaStr, and Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight, who demonstrated dexterity and agility by quickly pulling together a compelling webinar that examined the current state of events in comparison to the ’08-’09 downturn today. Find the full webinar here or scan below for some takeaways.

Thinking about the upstream

Start thinking about how far removed you are from those who are being hardest hit right now. (I.e. Even if you are not on the frontlines of serving the hospitality industry, do any of your clients provide software or other supplies to these businesses. How will that impact your business?

Tsunami’s on the other side of the world do eventually reach those around the world, but it’s not as intense for those far removed. Start analyzing the business to assess impact as well as areas of opportunity –– we’ll likely see upticks in healthcare, telecoms, etc.

Dealing with deal flow and navigating sales

New deals will likely be impacted. Some will dry up, others will just slow down. There are some COVID-19 deal freezes already.

People may not be willing to spend their money right now, but they may be willing to spend their time –– and some may be eager for a respite. Get them ready now so that when we come out of this downturn, you are top of mind. Now is not the time to let your foot off the accelerator, just the way in which you do it may change. Get people into your free trials and longer pilots, do more content marketing, etc. Get more and more exposed to your brand and offering whether they’re going to buy or not today. This will position you to dominate your market when we come out of this. 

This could be the catalyst for digital transformation. 

Scenario planning

Model several scenarios for sales. It’s likely new decisions and net new logo deals will be frozen. But there may be opportunities to expand with existing clients. There will still be a need for maintenance (i.e. no one will be in the market for a new car, but they will still need to maintain their existing one), especially with something that’s working. Some analysts predict we will see a lot of vendor consolidation with businesses. How can you position yourself to be the one they choose to roll up with. 

Flexing resources

Can you create more flex in your company? If you have teams that oversee events or sales, they likely have more time on their hands. But can sales pivot to support customer success or can those in charge of in-person events pivot to creating virtual events? 

Create connectivity

We need connectivity more than ever right now. Opt for daily Zoom huddles and get creative with these. Maybe some are done over a walk outdoors or bring your pet to Zoom day. Maybe have some fun with a show your best “business-on-the-top, work-remote-on-the-bottom” outfit. 


Lots of speculation here. Some predict the more successful VCs could be looking at this as an opportunity to double down and try to find the next unicorns. But it’s also predicted the funding landscape will become twice as hard and will take twice as long. The silver lining –– just like many of us have a little bit more time on our hands (thanks to no commute times and canceled events), it can be an opportune time to get facetime with VCs for virtual discoveries.

Igniting your team

Everyone on your team wants to help. Think about how you can give them the tools to support where they can. Get everyone connecting with customers –– not just the sales and customer success teams.


SMB will likely experience the most churn. They’ll be the ones the quickest to cut their costs, but also quickest to readopt when things recover. Enterprise will likely hold steady for at least the next month to quarter. 

Final interesting point from Gainsight

“…usage is exploding across our customers in a way that it hadn’t in the last few months. We certainly don’t know why because we’re just seeing the data. But it seems kind of intuitively obvious that what’s happening [with COVID and working remote], is driving people to use SaaS more.”

People are using Zoom more than they ever have before. They’re using Salesforce more than they ever have before because they’re no longer able to walk down the hall to ask about the status of something, they’re just going in to look at the update for themselves. Knowing this –– how can you assist your customers in using their SaaS tools more efficiently?

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