While we are all collectively facing high levels of economic stress and uncertainty, and unemployment is still high, and the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact is nowhere in sight, in the business world, especially in the B2B arena, we appear to be reaching a new kind of “normal”. Many businesses are eager to reopen as soon as possible, while others are just dipping their toes back into the water, still hesitant to invest or spend yet. One thing that seems to be clear is that in order to reach the B2B buyers who are just coming out of their economic “bunkers”, adaptability is a skill B2B companies need to develop.
How is the “new normal” going to affect your B2B sales strategy? Here are a few considerations to keep in mind as you navigate the new COVID-19 playing field.
Take a Good Look at Your Sales Process
It’s important to revisit and adjust your sales process instead of continuing to go through the motions of your previous marketing strategy. Instead of being complacent, understand that when times get tough, the tough get going. Being competitive is even more crucial now. Don’t make the mistake of radically changing your process, just remember that now, more than ever, every buyer who contacts you may have restrictions limiting their ability or eagerness to buy, so every deal is important, and being flexible can be the difference between making or losing a sale.
There are some basic sales strategies most businesses have mapped out, from initial contact and discovery to ROI to landing the deal, but you might want to customize yours to reflect your own standard experience. Pinpointing a few typical steps and several key stages in your buyer’s journey will save time and maximize your talent’s effort—while successfully guiding your potential clients through each stage, and get them confident and ready to purchase.
Become More Proactive
Customer outreach is critical now. Make the best use of inbound lead generation like social media, SEO and PPC advertising, as well as outbound lead generation such as direct mail, email marketing and old-fashioned cold-calling.
Brainstorm with your team to find innovative ways to find new sales leads or possible clients, and don’t be afraid to ask your current customers for referrals. Your absolute most important goal right now should be figuring out who potential clients might be and determining the best way to reach them.
Put an Emphasis on Value
It can be incredibly difficult to build a working relationship with a potential client if you have no way to get right in front of them. Instead, use what little communication means you do have to put an emphasis on value and what your company can offer to fulfill their needs. Brainstorm ways to show them that even though you aren’t able to provide in-person sales calls, your team is still there to provide exceptional value. Make it a point to address their needs with a clear plan on how your company can solve them. In the end, you’ll build that trust factor and make it easier to close the deal when things get (somewhat) back to normal.
Host Virtual Networking Events
Of course, you aren’t the only company struggling to stay connected during a global pandemic. A good way to build camaraderie with clients and also help them out is by hosting a virtual networking event. Gather a few businesses related to what you do and schedule a Zoom call for a specific date and time. Give participants the chance to invite others they feel would get a benefit from being involved. You can even make it fun by offering special giveaways or incentives for taking part. The cool part about this is nobody has to leave their own office or home workspace and it is usually pretty easy to fit something like this into the business day.
Make Things as Personal as Possible
Without face-to-face contact, it can still be difficult to build that solid business relationship that leads to long-term contracts. Instead of sending out mass emails, try to make things as personal as possible by either hosting one-on-one video calls or talking directly on the phone. Then try to add in little details that make your potential client feel noticed and heard. For example, ask about hobbies, pets, family members and other little tidbits you remember from your previous conversations. By remembering these little details, you can help build that bond that makes your potential lead feel as though you deeply care about working with them.
Pull Out the “Cold” Sales Leads
With businesses just trickling back to work, now is a great time to dust off old sales leads. Many companies don’t put much value in their cold sales leads, so you’ll have an edge over your competition. Some potential businesses may have adjusted their purchasing process in a way that will favor your business, while others have shifted to spending with various vendors. Some have shifted their normal spending into different areas. You’ll never know if you don’t contact them.
In addition to revisiting your list of “cold” prospects from six months ago or longer, bring out any leads that even a few months ago didn’t seem like a high priority—their circumstances may have changed now. Follow up with any lead who hasn’t been contacted since the COVID-19 crisis began.
Finally, Adapt to the New Environment
Your company is not the only one who’s been affected in some way or another with the impact of COVID-19. Be prepared for your potential buyer’s needs to change. Your previous prospects may have been purchased by another company. Your potential client’s previous vendor may have gone out of business. It won’t take long to hit your stride in the “new normal” by adapting your strategy now and positioning yourself for unique opportunities.