Sales & Marketing in a Crisis Part One: maintaining a strong lead pipeline
Over the last few months we’ve been working alongside our portfolio helping them to navigate and understand the current climate and the challenges it presents. Our management teams were keen to understand how other companies were adapting certain elements of their Sales & Marketing strategy, so we collated some best practice and top tips from across the portfolio and the wider internet on three of the most pressing topics:
1: Maintaining a strong lead pipeline
2: Selling online
3: Pivoting events strategy (from F2F to virtual)
The next three posts from us will be a summary of these tips and best practices which we hope will be both interesting and useful.
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With heavily reduced or no budgets, the way in which leads are generated has changed significantly over the last few months. In summary we identified 5 key changes in approach to lead generation:
A. Personalisation: The One to One Approach
The conventional ‘sales funnel’ has been flipped to focus on a targeted approach rather than broader ‘raising awareness’. The best way of engaging leads/clients in this way has been through account based marketing. To optimise the success of this method, teams have found following these four steps most effective:
1. Understand who is increasing v decreasing spend in the ecosystem
2. Create a tailored approach for a target list of prospects, ensuring messaging is relevant for each target
3. To help maximise engagement, write industry specific content whilst continuing with focused marketing comms: newsletters, social channels and personalised emails
4. Have the sales team follow up marketing emails with a LinkedIn message or email to help keep you top of mind
When you can’t meet F2F, the best way to drive leads is by focussing on your community and creating digital environment variety, according to Insight Partners. Check out their full Guide to B2B SaaS Remote Workforce Marketing.
Here are some top tips for getting the attention of new prospects:
· Be creative in your messaging
· Go old school and call, people are more willing to talk today than ever
· Ensure your sales & marketing teams are aligned, communicate and work together
· Personalise, personalise, personalise!
· Don’t skip the research, no commute means more time to understand exactly what the client wants, so do the diligence
· Try and speak to board level team members, they have the influence and are the decision makers
· Cash is king and budgets are tight, so customers need to understand the value of your product
· Be Agile
It’s also important to dedicate significant resource to supporting retention and enhancing the relationships that you already have with customers. One way of doing this is by creating compelling and personalised content, as providing insight is more valuable now than ever and engagement is key to consolidating trust.
The current climate is also a good time to focus on realigning and repositioning your brand and messaging so that you come out of this period even more differentiated from competitors. To ensure your brands position is as strong as it can be, consider completing the following tasks:
1. Undertake competitor analysis to understand the current climate
2. Review and enhance your messaging — are you clearly differentiated?
3. Future proof your brand
To effectively review your messaging and positioning, break it down by answering the following questions about your company:
1. What’s the challenge?
2. What’s changed?
3. What’s holding the industry back?
4. What’s the solution?
5. How is this achieved?
6. And lastly, why us?
Check out Forbes’ thoughts on keeping everyone on the same page when it comes to messaging in : 7 Habits of Successful Crisis Management: Aligning Sales & Marketing in the Storm.
B. From ‘collecting leads’ to positioning as thought leaders
Now more than ever it would seem that content is king. Customers are hungry for knowledge and to understand the challenges and impact of the current environment on their businesses. So instead of focusing on number of leads as a key metric, look to position your brand as a thought leader in your sector by producing high quality content that breaks through the noise. To help implement this pivot, try some of the following:
· Un-gate assets, as this increases traffic to the website
· Utilise partnerships and industry experts to provide extra insight and share your content with their networks
· Create trust by focusing on being a supportive, knowledgeable partner, rather than trying to sell
C. Pivot to focus on new, untapped verticals
Many industries and sectors are struggling at the moment, so focus your attention where you know you can win and research new verticals that are able spend in the current climate. In order to maximise this opportunity, before you diversify, make sure you understand how your product relates to these news sectors.
Check out Insight Partners thoughts on how to target prospects when no one is in the office.
D. Leverage Covid to your advantage
If you understand how potential clients are impacted by Covid, then the next step is to work out how you can help and support them through this time. Use your customer success team to focus your approach and understand what customers want and where their fear is. Then show how you can add value through insights; creating a resource centre is an effective way to engage both current and prospective clients. It’s also a great time to connect more within your industry and work together with competitors to understand changes and opportunities within the sector.
E. Re-target leads that have gone cold
Finally, consider how ‘paused accounts’ can come back. Ask, what can you do for them? People are more willing and have more time to talk now than ever, so repackage the offering and re target, but make sure you do it gently! If verticals aren’t functioning in the current climate then mothball them and re-engage at a later time, don’t bombard them with sales & comms, it will damage the long-term relationship. But if you give them space and reach out at a more appropriate time, they will be much more likely to re-engage.
Check out this piece from HubSpot looking at how teams are pivoting in light of Covid 19 through messaging, online resources and creating great experiences for customers.
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We’d love to hear how you’ve adapted your approach to lead generation in the last few months, feel free to get in touch by commenting below or connecting with us on LinkedIn.