COVID-19 has forced much of the world to go digital—and sales have followed.
The coronavirus pandemic warrants an updated look into how you approach sales, especially in the B2B environment. During this crisis, it is essential to reflect on the value your company brings, and to showcase why your clients need what you have to offer in this time of uncertainty, anxiety and economic hardship.
Remote work sales advantages
While there are inevitably many challenges that come with selling during a pandemic, the shift to remote work can work to your advantage by removing some time-related barriers to sales. It frees up precious schedule space for both you and your prospective customers by cutting time-wasters like commuting and inefficient in-person meetings.
Remote work also increases yearning for social interaction, particularly when many are asked to stay home during non-work hours too. This can lead to an increased willingness to connect and accept personal meeting invitations. You’ll have more direct access to key decision makers and target prospects at this time, for these and many other reasons, so use this to your advantage.
Strategizing your sales approach
Be strategic with your tone and approach as you reach out to prospects remotely. It is important to acknowledge that we are all facing a challenging situation while being a beacon of hope—there are companies (like yours!) who can help mitigate some of the struggles that your prospects may be facing due to the business and personal effects of the COVID-19 crisis.
Helpful strategies include:
1. Intentionally add value at every touchpoint
Adding value before you’ve even presented your pitch is a great way to make meaningful connections with your prospective customers and clients. Ahead of any direct sales move, connect by providing thoughtful ideas about their business—perhaps insight on initial steps they can take to stay connected to their customer base through the impact of COVID-19. Leave prospects with the feeling that they are already your client and that you already have their best interests at heart.
2. Make the first move
Rather than passively waiting for prospects to get in front of you, actively get in front of them! Find a way to naturally engage. Start an industry podcast in which you interview potential clients, or interview them for a blog post. This will serve as a strategic touchpoint in the sales process, and spur engagement and outreach for your brand as a whole.
3. Remove friction
Flexibility will go a long way toward gaining and retaining customers in an economic crisis. Reduce or remove any unnecessary fees, provide trial periods or discount periods where possible, and be willing to adjust payment terms to match your prospects’ needs.
4. Show your human side
At the end of the day, selling remotely will require you to capture your humanity. Virtual sales transactions run the risk of being perceived as robotic. Counteract this to make your brand even more attractive by intentionally adding points of engagement. Utilize applications such as YouTube or Vidyard to embed a video introduction in email engagement. Keep personal notes on your prospective clients and remember to follow up about their family, their hobby, or any challenges they’ve mentioned to foster true connection and build trust.
Remote sales tactics
With many states shut down, you can’t go door-to-door in any sense. Being on the pulse of best practices for tactically approaching remote sales is key.
Believe it or not, many of the “old school” methods—like cold calling and mailers—are still highly effective sales techniques. If relevant to your business, they should absolutely be a part of your overall approach.
Additionally, there are two more sales tactics I would advise: email marketing and utilizing LinkedIn.
Email marketing is cost-effective and has a low barrier to entry. It reminds prospective customers of:
- your brand’s presence
- your ability to meet their needs
- how they can connect with you
Email marketing consists of identifying prospects you want to reach out to and setting up email campaigns to automate the process. There are many email marketing platforms that address both of these components, including Growbots, which I use at Reconciled.
To be effective, email campaigns should be brief and consistent, while articulating the experience customers will have working with you and the value you offer. It is also crucial to create a sense of urgency through strong calls to action that seamlessly direct customers into your sales process.
As the largest social media platform for business professionals, LinkedIn is another effective place to smooth remote sales and connect with prospects globally. The platform allows you to filter connections to engage with your ideal clients and reach out through direct messaging. LinkedIn Premium includes InMail, which is even more personalized than email outreach and increases the chances your prospects will communicate with you.
In addition to direct outreach, LinkedIn also accentuates your thought leadership, credibility, and professional alliances through content you publish, like articles and posts. This visibility serves as an initial touchpoint for your audience, and you can direct prospects back to the content you create to add value later on in the sales process. In many ways, content is still king!
We are living in an era of unpredictability and we must also accept that sales will be unpredictable. Be prepared to hear no, and take every no as an opportunity to refine your remote selling strategy so you can continue to thrive in the virtual landscape. But you may also be surprised to hear yes when you least expect it.