Coronavirus /COVID-19 took the world by a storm a few months back this year. The impact it has had on businesses is overwhelming, to say the least. With rampant layoffs happening across the globe and the steep decline in business revenue – it almost feels impossible to sell your products/services during this pandemic, doesn’t it?
Almost every other discussion about the Coronavirus pandemic boils down to talks about the economy. And general health as well, obviously. Businesses in every niche, barring a few, have been affected by global lockdown; especially B2B. The stock market has gone for a toss, travel plans have been restricted, all the networking events have been either canceled or postponed and so on and so forth.
If you want your business to survive during this pandemic, you’ll have to adapt to the change and cling on to every opportunity. Like a drowning man clinging on to a floating straw. On top of that, the global shift towards a “remote work culture” needs some settling in as well.
Impact of Global lockdown on B2B sales
Let us now address the elephant in the room, shall we? The impact on B2B sales has been massive. Sales reps are playing in an uneven playing ground(most of them for the first time in their career) with a non-existent pipeline. Add to that the pressure of losing their jobs. The whole situation is extremely sad. According to Forbes, different marketers have expressed different opinions about the affected business.
- A leader mentioned that before this situation, employees were meeting the targets by managing their pipelines. They were forced to focus on sales as the employer night take any action if they don’t meet the targets. But now, the scenario is different. Employers are trying to save their employees in this situation.
While this is good on one side, on the other side it is impacting businesses a lot. Their pipelines are getting hampered as hardly anyone is willing to buy/renew their services/product subscriptions. Also as they are working remotely, managers are not being able to guide them step by step to manage their daily pipelines. This is a prominent problem across all sales teams.
- Now let us look at the external factors affecting this COVID situation. In B2C, “telesales” plays a major part. Telesales is preferred because the benefit is two-faced. The average ticket size is small and it’s extremely cost-efficient as well as time-efficient to sell via a phone call.
Whereas, B2B sales professionals rely heavily on face-to-face meetings. Due to the lockdown, not only are they getting any appointments with clients, but also existing clients are canceling their subscriptions. It is very difficult to not get frustrated.
- Another leader mentioned that there is not much impact on his business as they are equipped with all kinds of resources to tackle this pandemic situation. As their clients are also working from home, they are totally empathizing with the situation and are not canceling any meetings. The only difference is that the meetings have become virtual and a lot of online product demos are happening.
To be very honest, most businesses just can not afford to run with zero or negative revenue; especially bootstrapped startups. So, how do you go about this situation and scale your revenue during this global pandemic? Let’s take a detailed look at the means of continuing sales during the lockdown phase and several days to come.
How do you manage sales during this CoronaVirus pandemic?
See, firstly you need to still be proactive. You and your team need to work cohesively now, more than ever, to get the gears shifting for good. If you’re a sales manager, it’s your responsibility to keep your team motivated during such a gloomy atmosphere. Do daily standups on Zoom, make sure every member is aware of what’s going on, let 2-3 members work on a client together – you get the drift, right? What we mean is this is the time you need to really step up and put on those leadership shoes.
As far as sales representatives are concerned, be honest with yourself as well as with your team. We know the job you’re doing is hard and so does your manager. Working from home requires a certain amount of integrity and transparency. Even if you are not being able to perform like you used to, don’t drag your team down either. After all, a team is as good as its weakest link.
Now with statutory advice out of our way, let us look at how do you go about selling during coronavirus lockdown.
6 strategies you can implement to sell during the coronavirus pandemic
1. Farm before you hunt – Take advantage of rapport with existing clients
Unless you’re absolutely new to the world of B2B sales or have been living under a rock, you would know what hunting and farming refer to. Anyway for the uninitiated, in simple terms:
- Hunting refers to acquiring new clients. And the sales reps responsible for this are called hunters.
- Farming refers to nourishing existing clients and making sure they keep renewing your service/product subscription.
- In some companies, there’s a third set of representatives who are called “trappers“. Trappers are those people who focus on a bit of marketing as well and sort of “trap” people. They are mostly (but not exclusively) people who can be called sales influencers.
Remember that client who appreciates you checking up on them or maybe that client who insists on talking to none from your company but you – Yes, it’s time to make those relationships work. Look, even if you’re performance was above-average pre-lockdown, it is impossible that you closed deals without forging any relationship. Think hard and act even faster than you think. Don’t focus on acquiring new customers at this moment, try to farm clients.
Your number one priority at this moment should be to stop existing clients from canceling your service or subscription. However, if you are both the hunter and farmer in your company, we suggest you do a 80:20 split. Devote 80% of your time to farm existing clients and 20% to hunt for leads.
And if you find it extremely difficult to hunt at this moment, it’s time to up the game and transition into the “trapper” phase. More on that on the next point.
But, whatever the case may be – Farm before you hunt during this global lockdown. And that’s the very first step towards selling success in the time of COVID-19.
2. Instead of hunting for clients, trap them
As mentioned earlier, trapping refers to doing some activities (generally online) that get clients hooked on to you. Basically, make yourself and your company visible in front of potential customers. Now, how you do that? Read on.
Pause for a minute and imagine this – how cool would it be if you could tap into your potential client’s social media and engage with them online? Better yet, how cool would it be if you could find a gold mine of 100s or thousands of your potential clients at once? Sounds too good to be true, right?
We, at Ampliz, recently launched 2 tools to serve both of the aforementioned purposes. Peoplefinder lets you extract phone numbers and email Ids from LinkedIn even if you don’t have a LinkedIn premium account. How do you get hold of those profiles, though? The very same tool retrieves information about people (read potential clients) when you search for a name and/or company. And the best part is it’s just a nifty chrome extension.
Not convinced yet? Well, we launched another tool to automate your prospecting workflow. Ampliz SalesBuddy lets you get access to 120 million+ contacts (LinkedIn IDs, phone numbers and email IDs) of key-decision makers every time you visit a website. Now it sounds more promising, doesn’t it?
Together, these 2 tools take care of the entire cycle of finding new business leads to prospecting them. Oh, and did we mention that you can find similar clients with SalesBuddy once you set your target customer persona?
People have a lot of time on their hands during this lockdown phase. Engage with them on LinkedIn or via direct emails to open new avenues of cash inflow.
3. Empathize with your clients & communicate with them proactively
How many calls from your clients have you received during the lockdown asking you to cancel their subscription? Well, don’t be surprised if your answer to that question is “yes”. A lot of sales representatives are facing the same situation. In fact, a few people reported that few of their clients (those who pay in installments via cheques) are calling up and asking them to block those cheques. Even if this is a bitter pill to swallow, do not forget to empathize with them. We mean, the worst you can do at this moment is not answer their calls or reply to their emails.
Maintaining a proactive communication with your clients will not only make them come back to you after this situation is over, but also they might as well not cancel your services at all.
- Look over your existing clients by calling them up or simply shoot an email.
- Empathize with them and listen to their problems.
- Use the relationship you have with them to work in favor of you.
- Provide clients with a detailed case study of how your service/product can help them during this situation.
4. Not being able to sell? Rather build your pipeline
Are you finding it extremely difficult to sell or acquire new customers? Then this strategy is for you. Look beyond closing leads right at this moment, add them to your pipeline (so that you can close them once this is over). So, how do you do that?
- Start by engaging with them on social media or via emails
- Offer a free sample of your service/product
- Share engaging and relevant content (of your business niche) with your potential leads
- Offer flat discounts on your product/service
Sooner or later this whole Coronavirus situation will get over and businesses will again start running smoothly as before. The leads that you prospect during this time and build your pipeline with, will surely convert into paid customers then. So even if you’re not being able to sell now, engaging with prospects will help you in the long run.
5. Offer flat discounts or offer something for free
Who doesn’t love discounts? That too during an economic crisis like this.
As much as you might hate it, offering lucrative discounts can really save you during this time. At least, some amount of revenue is better than no revenue. Discounts such as:
- A free version of an otherwise paid trial version
- Buy 1 get 1 offer on certain services
- A combo deal on products or services (if you have more than one of either)
- Making a freemium product “freer”, et cetera
If you want some ideas on how to go about this, check out our article on tools offering discounts during coronavirus for inspiration. Offering such discounts will reinforce the fact that you care about your clients as well as you’re doing something great for the community. And what’s better then people trying out your product/service for free and liking it so much so that they end up paying for it.
6. Foray into the world of online events
The massive Coronavirus outbreak took a heavy toll on B2B sales and marketing events. Global events such as SaasTalk and Martech Expo canceled their Q1 and Q2 physical events. However, they have moved everything online. So, now you get the same insights and knowledge while sitting at home. Their online events are paid as well and have huge number of registrations. This is the power of online events and webinars in 2020.
Online events are great as a top of the funnel activity and help in brand building as well. We, at Ampliz, have successfully shifted our weekly physical events to online and have actually seen an increase in the number of registrations & attendance. To crack online events:
- Host speakers some amount of influence on social media
- Choose topics of discussion related to your niche (Remember, KPI is generating leads)
- Promote at least a week in advance on social media – Ads, outreach, etc.
- Set up an event registration page and ask users to register. This way you can re-target your audience before every event via their email ids or Linkedin IDs.
- Slide in your product demo before or after the event. You have a focused audience looking at their computer screens with excess time on their hands.- why not utilize it?
Take it easy, this too shall pass
It’s gonna be hard at first but you’ll adapt to this situation sooner than you think. Once people realize that this is not a matter of 2-3 months but the “after-effects” are here to stay, they’ll resume doing business with you just like pre-Coronavirus days.
If you’re a sales manager or the owner of a company, try not to be too hard on your sales reps during these trying times. Follow these sales strategies and we hope you’ll stay afloat until this pandemic lasts.