Freddie Marryat, Marketing Manager, EngageIQ
09 April 2020
It’s a challenging time for almost every business. While the tech industry hasn’t been decimated in the same way as leisure and tourism, the coronavirus is leaving its mark — and sales departments are no exception.
More and more sales reps will be working from home. If working remotely wasn’t hard enough, their job has become more difficult overnight. As businesses cease trading and budgetary strings are drawn tight, closing deals is getting harder than ever.
Sales teams across the tech industry are bracing themselves for missed quotas, reports Protocol reporter Biz Carson. While in discussions with industry leaders, FranklinCovey’s Randy Illig has found that softness in sales pipelines is already occurring. Meetings are being cancelled and deals are slipping.
It’s harder to find new leads, too. Networking events are a reliable source of leads that feed most sales pipelines. But they’re drying up as virtually every conference and trade show is cancelled or postponed.
6 Strategies B2B Sales Teams Can Use to Survive
Just because you’re stuck inside, it doesn’t mean your sales pipeline has to stagnate. The work you do now is going to have a direct impact on how well you and your sales team emerge from this pandemic.
Below are six strategies we have implemented at EngageIQ and EngageTech. They have all helped to keep our business and individual team members productive in one way or another. Hopefully, they may be of some use to your team, too.
1. Don’t Panic
As a company and as individuals, we’ve never experienced anything like this. While it would very easy to panic, we’ve done our best to keep a cool head and take action to keep our business moving forward.
Fear is unproductive, writes sales consultant Mike Weinberg. “In both good times and bad, those who focus on the task at hand outperform those caught up in fear.” Yes, your job is going to get harder. Yes, there’s a danger you won’t meet your targets. But worrying about these things isn’t going to solve your problems. Only action will.
We’ve found there’s actually a lot we can do right now. You’ve probably found the same thing out, too. What’s more, by keeping col you have a great chance to get ahead of competitors. If they are panicking, they aren’t going to be taking action to grow their pipelines. Perhaps even more importantly, any revenue that you can bring in now will be vital to your company’s ongoing health.
“In both good times and bad, those who focus on the task at hand outperform those caught up in fear.”
2. Use Video and Other Digital Tools
Obviously, we can’t talk in-person with clients. So we’ve been using video to talk face-to-face virtually, instead. This will go some way to make up for the lack of sales meetings, but we hope it may also improve sales figures, too.
Using video can help you close more deals, writes Gong.io’s Chris Orlob. Research by his company found that the deals they closed used webcams 41% more often than the deals they lost.
If you already have face-to-face appointments booked in, don’t rearrange them. Instead, reach out to prospects and suggest using Skype or Zoom, writes growth marketer Dmitry Chervony. You don’t have to limit yourself to these platforms, either, he says. Offer clients a wide range of telecommunication options to ensure accessibility.
These tools can be expensive, but there are workarounds. Skype, Google Hangouts and Zoom are free to use for one-to-one calls, for instance. Other platforms typically offer free two-week trials that can be used to find the tool that works best for your team.
Bear in mind not everyone on your team needs these tools, either. Your SDR team doesn’t, for instance. They should already be experienced at selling over the phone and via email, so there’s no need to add live video into the mix.
3. Keep Selling
Our sales reps might not be in the office, but they are still picking up the phone and trying to get through to decision makers. It may be tempting to stop sales calls, but remember that most prospects will be working a normal day just like you are. They still have the same problems they had before. Some problems may even have become more pressing. Don’t be afraid to keep nurturing and contacting prospects, just do so with care.
When approaching prospects, do so empathetically. William Tyree, CMO of ringDNA, points out that some prospects may be on the verge of losing their jobs. Even if they aren’t, outdated sales messages that lack any awareness of the current climate will come across as tone-deaf.
“Reps don’t have to talk about Coronavirus in detail,” he says “but now more than ever, tailored messaging that focuses on issues that individual companies may be facing right now are the ones most likely to cut through.”
Don’t ignore prospects in the middle of your funnel, either. You don’t know how long this crisis will last, so there’s no point in hoping you’ll be able to meet with them next month.
We’ve found that it’s actually more productive to touch base with warm contacts than it is to reach out to cold prospects. We’re making an effort to touch base regularly as the pandemic progresses. Hopefully, they’ll be as keen to meet with us when this is all over we are to meet with them.
This is particularly true for high-value prospects, writes lead generation expert Gregg Schwartz. He recommends businesses lay off the hard sell and put more effort into nurturing these long-term opportunities.
“Now more than ever, tailored messaging that focuses on issues that individual companies may be facing right now are the ones most likely to cut through.”
4. Attend Remote Networking Events
There’s probably several conferences you were planning to attend this year that have since been cancelled. This may be a blow to your lead generation prospects, but you don’t have to write off conferences completely.
Many events, particularly tech-focused ones, are transitioning from physical conferences to virtual ones. This is unchartered territory for many sales reps. Some could be awful, but there’s a chance people are going to be even more responsive to pitches given the novelty of the event.
Even if some of the conferences you were planning to attend aren’t going virtual, there’s no need to let them go to waste. Mike Lieberman, the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist of Square 2 Marketing, recommends reaching out to trade shows you’ve already paid for and hashing out deals for their email lists. If they are trying to hold onto your money, they’re much more likely to do a deal. Even if they’ve refunded your purchase, you still may be able to buy or rent their email list.
5. Move Hiring, Onboarding and Training Online
So far, we’ve spent most of the time discussing ways you can increase your team’s sales. But it’s still important to continue back-office operations like hiring and training when working from home.
There’s absolutely no reason to stop training. It’s still possible to record prospecting calls and talk through sales cadences with your team. This might even be a time where additional training is required to equip staff with the skills they need to work remotely.
It’s worth taking time to think about your hiring needs, too. While it’s unlikely any member of your team is going to leave in the short-term, we just don’t know how long this pandemic will last. Sooner or later you’re going to need to make a hire to help your team grow.
The sooner you start thinking about how to make the process remote, the easier it will be. The good news is that some parts of the process will transition fairly smoothly. Phone and video conferencing software can be used to interview candidates, for instance. Training and onboarding sessions can also be delivered remotely. Getting your new employee set up with the right equipment, however, might be a little more difficult.
“Making prospecting calls and sending prospecting emails is probably the single best use of your time right now.”
6. Stock Up On New Leads
Because it’s getting harder to close deals, we’ve decided to devote more time to growing our pipelines.
Holly Zoba, the founder of Influencer Sales, believes “making prospecting calls and sending prospecting emails is probably the single best use of your time right now.” Why? Because you know for a fact that people aren’t away from their desks. You may not be able to arrange a face-to-face meeting, but you can get yourself on their radar.
Fusion Marketing Partners CEO Christopher Ryan also recommends significantly increasing your networking efforts during periods of uncertainty. You can’t do this in person, but you can use Linkedin to contact prospects, industry contacts and partners.
Linkedin will only take you so far, however. Having a lead generation tool that can automatically find new, high-quality prospects will give your team the edge over the competition.
EngageIQ uses the latest technology and market-leading purchase intent data to identify the companies your sales team should be targeting. You’ll even get the most up-to-date contact information and a suggestion of who best to call and when.
Request a demo today to find out how EngageIQ can help you grow your pipeline now and in the future.