We can learn a lot from restaurants that have transitioned into food delivery companies on a dime during the COVID-19 crisis. As sales professionals, it’s critical to redefine your company’s value as customers redefine their definition of value as we move into the “new normal.”
The next few months will prove to be the survival of the fittest (or most adaptable) as you ride the waves of this crisis while helping your customers navigate some sometimes uncharted waters without wiping out. In fact, here are some preliminary numbers that Hubspot compiled showing how difficult B2B is right now.
However, wherever there is difficulty, there is opportunity. Below are some strategies to help you and your company grow your B2B sales through the pandemic and beyond.
- Think, brainstorm, and re-iterate. You and your company will have to do some deep thinking about the new business environment post COVID-19. What does this new world need from your company? What are your company’s strengths? Regardless of your position, can you encourage your leadership to pivot if necessary? If you were building a company from scratch right now, what would it look like? What can your company learn from this exercise? Brainstorm and re-iterate until you feel like your company is on the right track. If you’re a leader in the company, lead compassionately but decisively while being flexible, and encourage experimentation where appropriate.
- Stay close to current customers. Find out if your current customers will be reducing or canceling the purchase of your products. Make concessions (such as providing extra support, discounts or free upgrades) to keep them on board, buying as much as possible, and paying on time. Work with your accounting team to figure out where you have excessive credit risk and make necessary adjustments.
- Sell to survivors. Sell to companies who are well positioned and currently have cash flow, not companies who are poorly positioned and cutting back. Account-Based Marketing/Selling is critical right now. Target:
>Large, established companies that aren’t facing layoffs
>B2B SaaS startups who have recently received $5M+ in funding that are cloud, enterprise, or IoT-based.
>Companies that are hiring
- Be essential. Position your product or service as essential, not something that can be postponed or eliminated. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask yourself, “How are they re-prioritizing right now? How would I spend money if I was in their position?” And then ask yourself, “Am I helping my customer unlock more value? Sell more? Cut costs? Sell more while cutting costs?” And listen to your customers more intently than ever and help them do more with less. Schedule a meeting and see if you can brainstorm regularly until you have pivoted your value proposition into the essential column. Quickly kill products and messaging that are no longer resonating.
- Be insightful and educate. Sales professionals must come to the table prepared to be a proactive source of value for customers. In doing so, you must have a deep understanding of buyers and their business objectives. It’s also important to approach customers with unique insights about how they can save or make money. Trying tailoring your sales message to the customer’s specific needs and objectives. If prospects see that you’re bringing insights and value to the table, they will be more likely to book a Zoom meeting with you. This book has more great insights on taking control of the customer conversation.
- Seek partnerships and channels. Going with the “we’re in this together” theme, now might be a good time to encourage partnerships with certain customers in an effort to expand both of your sales channels. For example, you may be able to bolster offerings and further engage customers by tailoring bundled deals.
- Sell with sensitivity. When making that sales pitch, make sure your approach is helpful and sensitive to what people are currently dealing with. If you are in a position to give away a product for free or at a reduced price for businesses that are hurting, you should do so, and it’s certainly OK to promote that. In fact, that helps encourage others to also pitch in and help. You can certainly reference the crisis and let people know how you can help them through it, but don’t focus exclusively on it. And remember, emotions are running high, so downplay any strong opinions you have about COVID-19 and its impact. For some email outreach tips, this is a great article.
- Work in step with marketing. Ensure that you share insights with your marketing team, get on the same page, and work on strategies to reach potential customers who are more likely to buy the products/services you’re offering. This means lots of testing of platforms and types of content such as written, infographics, audio, and video.
- Take care of your team. Members of your own sales team may be dealing with a variety of emotional, medical, and financial issues. Be kind, compassionate and patient with them. Listen and be supportive and provide whatever resources you can. We all need that right now.
BOLTT.iO is a fractional B2B sales leadership company. We are working with companies in this economic downturn to help them balance their growth capabilities with costs. Contact us today for a free one-hour sales coaching session. We can augment your team in sales, management, sales ops, sales and hiring. We are here to help.