While this year started with high hopes and better statistics than before, this historic COVID-19 pandemic hit every business to the walls and the sales teams worldwide had to come up with new strategies. The norm of work changed, the supply and demand changed, basically, everything changed in the past few months. This Pandemic was not just about Quarantine and Lockdown, it was more for businesses and especially the sales team. When it started spreading from one country to another, some were in denial and some accepted the reality long before but everyone had to face the same consequences. In-person meetings, trade shows, events, conversations everything changed, now getting a client was much tougher than it was before.
The pandemic isn’t over yet in most countries, while few wiped it all out they’re still unsure if opening all business-like normal is a good idea or not. Nobody knows how long it will take for this to play out and therefore, sales professionals need a plan going forward. In-person meetings have become taboo, people are afraid of physically meeting even if lockdown is lifted in that area, heading back to offices isn’t just as easy as it may sound, so keeping the sales pipeline running is surely the toughest of jobs sales professionals have to go through in their entire career this year.
Sales must Go-On!
Reality check is that salespeople still need to sell, what else they can do, right? Even in times like these. But with the digital market expanding, there are more ways than before. McKinsey and Company described the shift in B2B sales by stating,
“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 are the Salespeople going to Sell?
When we talk about B2B outbound sales, the backbone of it is usually the following:
- In-person meetings
- Trade shows and industry events
- Cold calling
- Cold emailing
Cold Calling and Cold Emailing
Each one of them has been fundamentally changed for an unforeseeable future due to the pandemic. While it was easier calling at the offices of every prospect, now the difficulty lies in finding personal numbers of the clients to get in touch with them, which means creating an entirely new prospect list of people with active numbers.
It’s easier reaching out to clients through email but the fact that everybody is at their homes on their computers, the inboxes are filled with unsolicited bulk emails, the question is how to make your personalized email stand out?
During this pandemic, calls and emails became more important. In fact, many B2B salespeople denoted digital interactions twice as important to their customers now than ever.
The most basic change every salesperson had to adapt was to try a different approach than usual when making these contacts. If you know a person is sick, you can’t keep banging your head against their phone line, empathy is and will continue to be key and this is needed most now than ever. More research is required before reaching out to a prospect, more focused messages need to be delivered.
Take the time to see how a company is doing during this pandemic before contacting them because the last thing you would want is to lose a potential client. Search for news of cutbacks and layoffs in every company, find out how they’re allocating their budget, if they are not doing well financially right now, odds are they’ll take you up on your offer. So, every salesperson should respect this right now.
Pausing In-person meetings
While the social distancing guidelines are still active even though lockdowns are eased in most areas, in-person meetings aren’t the solution for the foreseeable future. The in-person meetings have been replaced by video calls as a response to the pandemic and it is assumed that it will continue for a while till in-person meetings are not considered taboo anymore.
Video meetings are easier since file sharing and real-time emailing are just one click away during the meeting and it can be facilitated by group chat. It’s easier to schedule a mutual time and discuss any topic further through video calls although the traditional way of the in-person meeting still prevails.
Connectivity – A rise in communication – Networking goes virtual
Salespeople focused on being physically in touch but in response to the pandemic, they need to alter their operations by balancing being physically out of touch with being more digitally present as a B2B seller.
An entire restructuring of the customer experience is the main strategy most companies are using by shifting their outbound sales reps to digital channels.
Chatbots are being assigned to sales people for a real-time solution to all problems and getting leads through campaigns and traffic.
With screen-sharing softwares, product demos are being held virtually, follow-ups now take place through video calls or phone calls. While there were less people active on LinkedIn before, salespeople are finally using LinkedIn to find new connections, therefore, LinkedIn is seeing record numbers of engagement between connections as networking goes virtual.
Go Virtual – Go Big!
This is time for sales reps to take the high road and switch to digital and virtual ways to interact and communicate with new contacts. We all dread the days when the Digital world would take over our physical world and it certainly has during the pandemic. Learning new ways and keeping up with your digital presence is all you need as a sales rep to SELL!!