We’re not going to sugarcoat it here…being a salesperson during the coronavirus outbreak can really suck.
First off, everyone is worried and distracted. Obviously. Your customers and prospects are figuring out how to work from home while consuming doomsday news in the background all day long. Your B2B tech offering is probably the furthest thing from their minds right now.
All of your normal tactics are not going to work. Trade shows? Cancelled. Lunch meetings? Nope. Flying out for pitches? Well, you see the pattern here. Social distancing is no joke!
How is the sales team at a B2B software or technology company supposed to adapt? Here are our top 11 tips for continuing the sales process remotely during the coronavirus crisis.
- Be empathetic. Don’t use the crisis as a chance to push your product. Use it as a chance to connect with people and figure out ways to help. No more ABC…adopt an ABH attitude instead: always be helping.
- Identify their new mindset. In a crisis, companies tend to fall into one of three categories: “panic-and-hit-pause-on-all-spending” vs. “don’t-launch-anything-new-but-use-downtime-to-plan” vs. “continue-on-with-business-as-normal.” Recognizing what position your prospect’s company has taken will be crucial in communicating with them effectively.
- Adjust your messaging. Once you figure out what prospects need today—not last month—adjust your messaging ASAP. Reexamine any automatically-scheduled sales sequences and make sure new outreach talks to this new reality.
- Engage on LinkedIn. Without in-person contact, you can create meaningful connections by commenting on social media posts. Write something that shows genuine interest or appreciation…not just a throwaway comment like “nice post.” A bit of flattery can go a long way.
- Don’t call unexpectedly. Working from home during this crisis likely means also taking care of children during normal business hours. Be respectful and don’t disturb potential homework or nap time by calling out of the blue. Use a meeting scheduler tool like Calendly to book time instead.
- Schedule virtual coffee dates. If you’re used to having one-on-one networking meetings, go virtual. Send someone an e-gift card to their favorite coffee store (drive-thru only!) and then drink together via a Google Hangout.
- Embed videos in email. Think attention spans were short before? We are at the height of distraction right now. Instead of writing long emails, shoot a quick video of yourself on a platform like Soapbox or Loom and embed it in an email to prospects.
- Jazz up your proposals. If you normally send over boring proposals then “wow” prospects with your in-person charm, it’s time to let the proposals do some of the impressing instead. Instead of a Word doc or PDF, try a platform like Qwilr that lets you easily create visually stunning documents in a web page format.
- Rely on video conferencing. Use video conferencing with your virtual team and customers alike to take the place of in-person meetings. Even if the other person is embarrassed to go on camera (likely because they didn’t shower today!), leave your camera on so they feel a stronger connection.
- Be more flexible. Adjust terms, add in extra tech support, offer a money-back-guarantee…basically work with your customers to adjust to the unique circumstances.
- But don’t devalue your product. Find ways to be flexible that don’t involve drastically cutting prices. It will devalue your product and your reputation, making people think there’s something wrong or that they were overpaying before. Even during a recession, value > price.
As you can see, selling during a crisis isn’t impossible, it’s just different. Even with all of the great tips above, budgets will still be tight and decision timelines will grow longer. Be patient and stay the course. By adapting your B2B tech sales strategy during this unprecedented crisis, you’ll be leaps and bounds above your competitors who continue to operate by their old playbook.
After all, studies have shown that “sales for companies that remained aggressive during the recession enjoyed sales that were 2.5 times the average of all other businesses.” (Source: F&I.)