17 May, Tuesday
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Utah Business

How Filevine learned to sell their product virtually during the pandemic

I know a man who is a biomedical researcher, he helped invent the medicine that later saved his life when he fell ill with cancer. 

I thought of this man’s story when the COVID-19 crisis hit the cloud-based start-ups of the Silicon Slopes. Though it’s been a difficult time, many of us were able to respond quickly and effectively because our own products enabled the remote work we now needed to rely on. The tools we created for others saved ourselves when we faced a completely unforeseen crisis.

Cloud technology has been crucial for nearly every industry through the pandemic. But it goes deeper for those of us who provide cloud-based services. Our product, the premier cloud-based operating core for legal professionals, has been in heavy demand throughout the pandemic. Our strong financial position allowed us to temporarily offer our customers extra licenses and complimentary legal answering services while they scrambled to adapt to the new normal. 

We’ve also taken this opportunity to deepen every team member’s understanding of Filevine. As they rely more heavily on our own product, they understand Filevine’s features more deeply and in turn can better support customers. 

At Filevine, we’re often exploring how technology can enhance human interactions, rather than replace them. When we were suddenly all socially-distanced, we had to figure out how to build connection and accountability into remote meetings. We started by asking everyone in the company to turn on their camera during meetings. When we see each others’ faces, we listen better, we understand the nuance conveyed through gesture and expression, and we bond more as coworkers.

Many teams began instituting morning check-ins and more regular touch points throughout the day or week. Some teams even sponsored their own virtual happy hour-style activities after hours.

We also found that our company-wide meetings needed to be revamped to catch everyone’s attention and keep spirits high. We began bringing in different presenters to share information on relevant topics, helping to reassure each employee. More recently, we’ve brought in our creative team to produce more polished, fun weekly meetings. There’s music and comedy—its a far cry from some stuffy work meeting.

Another way we’ve supported community engagement is through creating a work from home Slack channel, both for our employees and customers, where they can find answers to questions they face.

We also encouraged our team members to give back to their communities during our May challenge, #MayItForward. During this month-long, company-wide initiative, each of our departments served another department by pitching in to make that department’s job easier. We also challenged our employees to give those who are hurting during this difficult time. We saw so many examples of community, including an employee giving her own furniture to a single mother in need. It was truly inspiring!

Our biggest question now is: what does the sales cycle look like in the age of social distancing?

Until the pandemic hit, our sales team thrived on extensive face-to-face interactions with potential customers. These often began with conferences, where we were able to engage with a large number of legal professionals. How do we build that same rapport when every conference is cancelled and we can’t be in the same room with potential customers? 

So far we’ve been trying to convert our in-person interactions into their digital counterpart. But ultimately, we want to rethink the online sales experience from the ground-up. Our first step in this came when we postponed our popular Legal X Conference to 2021. In its place, we hosted the online Catalyst Summit on August 18th and 19th. Instead of simply televising our traditional conference form, we designed the summit from the ground-up to appeal to remote attendees.

Amid the trauma of the pandemic, Filevine has also hit many new exciting mileposts. These include many new hires and the opening of a brand new office in Sugarhouse. We’ve had to temper that excitement with safety precautions. As the economy reopens, we’re trying to move at a slow and responsible pace. We’ve slowly invited a few teams into the office, beginning with those who didn’t thrive with fully remote work.

This isn’t the way we expected to open our new space. But amid the difficulties of the time, we’re grateful for the resilience and flexibility of our employees and the continuing strength of our industry in a time as uncertain as this.

This article is part of a month-long work from innovation series where executives and entrepreneurs discuss how their companies have innovated as a result of COVID-19. Read more here.

Emelia Schinke is the Vice President of People and Legal at Filevine.