We are not out of the woods yet, but it is safe to say that many B2B buyers are re-emerging to do business.
The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, and there is still a massive amount of economic pain and high unemployment, but in the world of B2B sales, we seem to be emerging from the other side of the crisis and entering a kind of New Normal. Some businesses are reopening, some are testing the waters again after being hesitant to spend or invest during the lowest points of the crisis, and the stock market has recovered much of its losses. Although we are not completely out of the woods yet, it’s safe to say that lots of B2B buyers are coming out of the bunker.
So what does this mean for your B2B sales strategies? There are a few key insights to keep in mind to adapt your B2B sales to the New Normal of life under COVID-19:
1. Get proactive with customer outreach
Now is definitely not the time to sit back and wait for leads and deals to come to you. Put your head down and start working. Develop a comprehensive approach for customer outreach and lead generation from all possible channels: outbound lead generation (cold calls, email marketing, direct mail) and inbound lead generation (search engine marketing, business marketing, social media, PPC ads).
Also, get more proactive at asking for referrals from existing customers. Ask everyone on your team to brainstorm and make lists of possible customers or sales leads from their own professional and personal networks. Now is the time to pull out all the stops and figure out where your potential customers are, and how to reach them.
2. Have a solid, consistent process
Revisit your sales process. When times are good, lots of B2B sales organizations get a bit complacent about going through the motions of the sales process, or treating every customer conversation the same. The post-COVID world is way too competitive to allow for this kind of complacency. Every deal counts more than ever. You can’t be improvising your sales process right now. You can’t assume that every customer who contacts you is ready and eager to buy.
Hammer out a consistent sales process that accounts for every stage of your customer’s journey, such as:
- Initial contact and discovery stage
- Preliminary phone call with a sales rep
- Product demo
- Stakeholder conversations
- ROI calculations
- Q&A with decision-makers
- Closing the deal
Not every industry or company will have the same sales process, but this is a good basic overview. You might want to customize the process to reflect your own company’s typical experience. Of course, not every customer will have to go through the entire sales process, and some customers might need to spend more time in one stage of the process than others. But if you can pinpoint a few key stages and typical steps in the customer journey, you will be better equipped to guide your customers through each stage of the process, save time and maximize your effort, and get them ready to buy.
3. Revisit your “cold” sales leads
Too many companies overlook the value of their “cold” sales leads. If you have sales prospects that haven’t received a follow-up call since before the crisis started, now could be a good opportunity to check in with them. Even if a prospective customer was not ready to buy, or was even struggling with a crisis of their own a few months ago, their circumstances might have changed for the better. Some big companies haven’t stopped spending, but are shifting their spending into different areas, or spending differently with multiple vendors. Some companies might have changed their procurement process in a way that is more favorable for your business.
Whatever the situation, it’s a good idea to revisit your list of long-term sales leads and check in with the “cold” prospects, even the ones that might not have seemed like high priority leads six months ago.
4. Adapt to a dynamic environment
It seems like the whole world is shifting wildly from one day to the next, and it’s true that now more than ever, the only constant is change. Be prepared for your prospects’ needs to change. All of the companies that you’re selling to are also navigating this same environment of uncertainty and unpredictability; the solution that you sell might suddenly be a better fit for what they need. Your prospects might get acquired by other companies. Your prospect’s vendor might go out of business, creating a need for a new vendor (you!) to get on board with the prospect’s organization. All of your sales conversations need to lean into this spirit of dynamism and resilience. How can you help your customers’ businesses get stronger, leaner, more efficient, lower-cost, or lower-risk? How can you adapt your sales pitch to the unique concerns and challenges of this specific moment?
It might sound premature or naively optimistic to talk about COVID-19 having a “New Normal.” Most people might not feel 100% safe going out in public or resuming normal activities again until there’s a vaccine. But the business world, especially in the world of B2B major account sales, seems to be shifting in the direction of something resembling normalcy. Make sure you can adapt your sales strategies accordingly. “Normal” might still be a long way off, but COVID-19’s “New Normal” is still presenting unique opportunities for sales organizations that are ready to take them.
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