No matter how difficult the crisis, there's always something to learn. In that respect, the novel coronavirus pandemic is no different.
For starters, the life of the "road warriors" in the industry may be changed forever. For those who spend their time on the trade show circuit representing their companies, or others who spend most weeks on the road calling on customers and prospects, the sudden mandate to work from home has to be a shock to their systems.
But companies are using their ingenuity along with available technology to connect not only with their own staffs, but with customers as well. It didn't take long for a wide variety of virtual meeting platforms to facilitate the virtual meetings and webinars that stand in for traditional in-person training and sales presentations.
Most agree that personal relationships and face-to-face encounters won't go away, but the ability of staff members to be so productive in remote situations no doubt will have companies looking at virtual options more closely when tightening future budgets. Travel will come under more scrutiny, as will the need for expensive office space.
The age of COVID-19 also has focused on the need for companies to maintain a strong liquidity position. Many see having cash almost like an insurance policy, a buffer during times when economic fortunes can change overnight. That can, of course, cause difficulties with customers who may be short of cash and start requesting extended terms. One executive said that's when you have to carefully consider the past relationship, with good customers more likely to get some leeway.
Yet another lesson from the pandemic is how quickly forecasts can change, much like the weather. When COVID-19 spread across the globe, all normal economic indicators and prediction tools no longer applied. With the oil and gas decline, at least there is data such as oil rigs in use that can provide guidance.
With the pandemic, however, there really is nothing that can give a clear indication of what is to come. That leaves us with talk about what shape the recovery will take, with a V-shape (or quick bounce back) preferred. The most likely is the U-shape, with a prolonged recovery, while nobody wants an L-shape, where a market never recovers.
The smart companies will take note of these lessons, and use them to be better prepared next time.