In the face of the historic COVID-19 pandemic, sales teams worldwide have had to rethink their strategies. When it first hit, many were left wondering how a profession that seems to require in-person meetings and conversations would weather the storm.
Since we don’t know how long it will take for this to play out, sales professionals will need a plan going forward. Even with lockdowns lifting across the U.S. and some heading back to their offices, in-person meetings are still taboo.
The hard reality is that salespeople still need to sell, even in times like these. But it can be done without being calloused. A study by McKinsey and Company describes the shift in B2B sales this way:
“For sales leaders contemplating how to react, taking care of their people and customers must be a top priority...We believe we are at a digital inflection point, where B2B sales operations going forward will look fundamentally different from what they were before the pandemic.”
So, How Will They Look?
The backbone of B2B outbound sales is usually the following:
· Cold calling and emailing
· In-person meetings
· Trade shows and industry events
Each of these things will be fundamentally changed for the duration of this pandemic, and possibly beyond.
Cold Calling and Cold Emailing
Calls and emails are becoming more important. In fact, B2B salespeople said digital interactions were twice as important to their customers now than in the period before the pandemic, according to the McKinsey study.
One change you’ll want to take into account is the approach you’ll take when making these contacts. Empathy is and will continue to be key. More research will be required in B2B sales before reaching out to a prospect.
Take the time to see how the company is doing before you contact them. Run a search to look for news of cutbacks and layoffs. If the company you have in mind isn’t doing well financially, odds are they won’t be able to take you up on your offer. And that should be respected.
If you do reach out, acknowledge the current situation and the hardships they’re likely to be facing. Reps should be willing to work with them to find new solutions going forward.
A Pause on In-Person Meetings
With social distancing guidelines still in place even as lockdowns ease, in-person meetings will be out of the question for the foreseeable future. Instead, they’ve been replaced by video calls.
Video meetings facilitated by group chat, file sharing, and email still allow for members of the same team to exchange information and stay up to date on projects.
Video calls also make it easier for sales teams to meet prospects where they are since digital meetings can more easily be tailored to the schedules of both people involved.
Trade Shows and Events are Reimagined
Large gatherings and events are still banned, and likely will be for some time. Virtual trade show services, letting customers interact with sellers online instead of in-person, have helped sellers exhibit their products even in the face of physical events being canceled.
Customers can still purchase products or run software demos with a virtual event. The hosts and exhibitors also save money on overhead costs. That, combined with the unease people are likely to feel in large crowds even after things reopen, mean in-person trade shows and events may not come back as strong post-pandemic.
A Rise in Connectivity
Sales reps have had to learn quickly how to balance being physically out of touch with being more digitally present as B2B sellers switch to digital-first methods.
Companies are shifting their outbound sales reps to digital channels, meaning an entire restructuring of the customer experience.
Conversations that would’ve been held by chatbots, for example, are being assigned to people instead. Sales staff are having to take a digital approach to guide people through the sales funnel.
Product demos are held virtually with screen-sharing software, and follow-ups take place via phone or video call. LinkedIn is seeing record numbers of engagement between connections on its platform as networking goes virtual. The longer this pandemic goes on, the better we’ll see salespeople get at digital-first selling.
Not Much Change in Spending
In the B2B arena, most businesses are continuing to spend. Some have even increased spending, according to the McKinsey study. This optimistic spending behavior is taking place across business sectors, from pharmaceuticals to energy.
Unsurprisingly, larger companies are projected to spend more. Companies directly related to the pandemic, like medical technology firms, are also among the ones projected to spend the most.
If you’re having trouble navigating the new digital sales landscape, we can help. Leadium is a leader in digital-first outbound sales, and we offer a variety of solutions to help your team hit the ground running. Contact us today to find out more.