Freddie Marryat, Marketing Manager, EngageIQ
09 April 2020
It isn’t just sporting events and music festivals that marketing and sales reps are going to miss due to the coronavirus pandemic. Conferences, networking events and tradeshows are also getting cancelled left, right and centre.
The cost of these cancelled events is staggering. Demand intelligence company PredictHQ and Recode have estimated that the direct economic loss has surpassed $1 billion.
The cancellation of these conferences is also a huge blow to the sales industry, writes B2B analyst Jillian Ryan. Pipelines in businesses across the world could slow down or stall because of lost touchpoints. Sales figures could be impacted directly.
Marketers are already going to great lengths to make up for cancellations. Many are hosting webinars and creating other forms of digital content to collect business leads. While they’re doing that, it’s your job as a sales rep to go above and beyond to find new prospects, too.
The Importance of Finding New Leads
None of us know how long this pandemic will last. There are conferences scheduled for the end of the year that haven’t been cancelled yet, but they’re not guaranteed to go ahead. In other words, you don’t know how long it will be before you’re able to meet prospects face to face again.
It might be harder to close deals when you can’t meet in person, but it’s not always going to be that way. When things return to normal, you’ll want to have a strong pipeline of nurtured prospects who are ready to buy.
A pool of good leads is crucial in this environment, writes SSM founder Al Davidson. “Devote extra time, effort and resources to prospecting and lead generation, right now, even if you’re currently busy,” he says. “Even if you’re not in an industry that has been directly impacted by coronavirus so far, there is the possibility that this outbreak could lead to wider and more severe economic impacts.”
More leads can help you do your job better, too. It’s probably easier to reach out to prospects now than ever before, for instance. Your prospects almost certainly have more time in their day now they’re working from home, writes Alicia Rasta, VP of strategic accounts at Televerde. The lack of socialization could make them more eager to speak with people, too.
Closing sales isn’t impossible in this climate, either. The more prospects you have in your pipeline, the more chance you have of getting a deal across the line.
Reaching out to prospects also demonstrates the strength of your company, points out blockchain expert Oliver Isaacs. No one knows how well other companies are handling this period of instability, so showing that you are still actively pursuing new business makes a big statement about your resilience.
“Even if you’re not in an industry that has been directly impacted by coronavirus so far, there is the possibility that this outbreak could lead to wider and more severe economic impacts.”
3 Ways to Find New Leads Fast
A cancelled networking event doesn’t have to mean an empty sales pipeline and missed targets. Here are three tactics our sales and marketing teams are using to find new B2B prospects fast.
Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to Supercharge Prospecting
When you can’t meet prospects in-person at a conference, Linkedin is probably the next best thing. If you’re like most reps, you’re already using Linkedin Sales Navigator to find potential prospects, but now it’s time to supercharge your efforts. There are a number of Sales Navigator features you can use to speed up prospecting.
Marketer Eyal Katz recommends using filters to quickly find relevant sales leads. You shouldn’t send a message to these leads immediately, however. Instead, read posts and updates from these leads to create a personalized, relevant outreach message that’s much more likely to convert.
You can also use the Sales Preference section of Sales Navigator to outline your ideal lead, writes product marketing manager Tejas Kinger. “Here, you can narrow down your ideal client profile based on geography, industry, company size, and function” he says. “These preferences will show up whenever you visit a prospect’s profile, and LinkedIn will show lead recommendations based on the criteria you set.”
Sales reps can also use the time to take advantage of one of Linkedin’s newest features: Conversation Ads. This new ad form builds on Linkedin’s existing Messages Ad, explains Third Door Media’s Taylor Peterson, and includes full-funnel campaigns and multiple, customized calls to action.
Peterson notes that these ads can be particularly effective for B2B teams who typically have longer purchasing cycles and multiple stakeholders involved in decision making.
Prospecting on Linkedin is the strategy that Critero CEO Megan Clarken and her team are taking to make up for lost networking leads. They are reaching out to registered attendees of events they were planning to attend through Linkedin and Twitter and making contact there instead. “By connecting with potential clients online and engaging with what they’re posting and sharing, salespeople are able to build virtual relationships while in-person meetings are on pause,” says Clarken.
“By connecting with potential clients online and engaging with what they’re posting and sharing, salespeople are able to build virtual relationships while in-person meetings are on pause”
Attend Virtual Conferences
Some of the largest tech conferences, including Microsoft Build, Salesforce Connections and Google Cloud Next, have moved online. Keynotes, breakout sessions and networking events will be streamed live, allowing would-be attendees to still get involved and make connections.
These won’t be as good as the real thing, but they could still be a genuine solution to your lead generation problem. Better still, the tech industry is as well-placed as any to take advantage of virtual conferences. Marketing Insider Group CEO Michael Brenner points out that attendees are likely to be digitally savvy and use online conferencing solutions regularly.
Sales reps should check to see if any of the events you were scheduled to attend have gone virtual or if there are any suitable webinars they can participate in. Alternatively, check out Hubspot’s Leslie Ye list of nine virtual sales conferences that you and your team could attend.
If you want to take things to the next level, consider hosting your own online event. As we mentioned at the start of the article, a number of marketers are currently running webinars to make up for lost events. Our team, for instance, are running a weekly series on Outbound Selling When Working From Home.
It’s a great way to demonstrate your expertise and directly engage with potential prospects, writes Shama Hyder is CEO of Zen Media. Demand could be high as breaks from monotonous routines are just what many people are looking for. You could attract a lot of attention if you create and promote a value-packed webinar or you could find new prospects by attending the webinars of others.
Empower Your Sales Team With EngageIQ
With EngageIQ, you can put part of your lead generation on autopilot. Our intelligent lead generation tool uses smart purchase intent data to identify companies that have a potential need for your product. You receive a stream of prospects each month without having to lift a finger, and you get all the information you need to contact them successfully included, too.
Because your team doesn’t need to spend hours searching for prospects or their contact information, EngageIQ is the perfect accompaniment to more active forms of prospecting, like Linkedin. Prospecting on Linkedin will still be important. But with EngageIQ, your team can spend less time on Linkedin than they normally would and more time actually contacting leads.
EngageIQ can help keep your sales team engaged and motivated, too. In a period where your sales reps may be slightly unproductive working from home and worried about meeting KPIs, EngageIQ can help them to increase conversions and exceed their targets.
It can help your company get ahead, too. A consistent flow of monthly opportunities can keep your pipeline full at a time when your competitors’ pipelines are starting to empty out.
Get in touch today to find out how EngageIQ is already helping sales teams like yours grow their pipelines and convert more prospects.