Covid-19 quickly changed the B2B landscape, causing 1/2 of B2B buyers to delay purchases and forcing much of the remaining sales to be done remotely and digitally.
These are challenging times for many B2B sales organizations, but the good news is that there are ways to keep closing even when the prospects are fewer and may have less room for spending. While acting on new opportunities will also give you a better foundation to keep selling – and grow revenue – after the pandemic has passed.
This was what HBR talked about, in an article that outlined a number of ways to actually keep closing regardless of the current situation. Tips that we’ve interpreted and discussed below:
Test, re-test – and find ways to engage prospects
Sales representatives who previously sold face-to-face will need to become skilled and efficient at selling digitally – considering that face-to-face meetings have become rare or nonexistent throughout the pandemic.
Here, HBR talks about finding ways to engage prospects on a remote basis. Where simply things such as “engaging with prospects’ social posts, writing handwritten letters, and giving strategic, genuine gifts within your company’s ethical guidelines” are a good starting point, but not enough to ensure that you continue to close deals.
Instead, sales representatives will need to get creative and find new ways to engage prospects – new ways that are then tested, adjusted and re-tested. On top of which actively considering the changed conditions of our current situation, where strategies that may have worked in the past may not be as effective, can give you a competitive advantage. Where HBR gives the example that “standard email open rates decreased overall during Covid-19, but emails acknowledging the pandemic saw a 41% increase in March”. A change that, while it is a few months old, does demonstrate how adjusting the approach to current circumstances can make a large difference.
Consider the clients of your prospects
So, if the customer’s customer is doing ok, odds are they won’t alter their purchasing behavior to any large degree. And, if that’s the case, it’s also likely that the customer doesn’t have to alter their purchasing behavior either.
This matters more now than ever, as it can give sales representatives a better idea of their chances for closing a sale with a specific customer. Pointing in the direction of the sales that can, realistically, be won, and helping sales reps spend less time on deals that are likely to fall through. And while this is always important, it can be absolutely vital right now – when many sales reps have less prospects to go on, and when the time spent on each is more valuable. Considering that many now have to do more with less.
While saying yes all the time is not a great strategy, now is the time to ask your prospects what they will need to make the purchase right now – and really listen to what they have to say. Considering that they may be under more rigid, financial constraints, flexibility may be key to keep closing deals regardless of the financial climate. Where discounts, a chance to pay in installments and maybe even a complementary, premium feature, may be ways to show that you understand their position. Increasing the chance of closing the sale, and helping to build loyalty in the process.
Focus on ROI, talk like the other person is CFO
When customers have less room for purchases, and where the financial constraints may mean that each purchase is looked at more carefully and by a wide set of individuals, it’s a good idea to talk to customers with an emphasis on ROI. This was, for example, underlined by LinkedIn’s VP of Sales, Alyssa Merwin, in a webinar where she explains that “It is a hard-dollar ROI, not soft. As sellers, we are going to have to up our game”.
I.e. talking as if the customer’s representative is the CFO of their organization (no matter what position they may have), and underlining “…the direct connection between the product or service you’re selling and the customer organization’s goals”, can give sales representatives an edge. Even if the customer has changed their behavior, and makes less purchases than before.
With these tips in mind, and by also investing and focusing on actually using the digital tools now available to make remote sales easier, it can be easier to keep closing despite the current climate. And, as traditional modes of sale may never be as effective as they were pre-pandemic, starting to adapt and adjust approaches today can provide a better position tomorrow. When the pandemic is over, but when digital may very well still be standard.
Are you looking for more tips on how to grow and close sales in a digital and remote world? Check out our Remote Sales Hub or contact us to talk to a Remote-Sales Expert.