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Apart from the tragic human consequences, the coronavirus pandemic is causing havoc in the entire economy. In the B2B sector specifically, there’s a direct impact as well: the event industry needing to reinvent itself completely, companies that work with the hardest-hit industries (like hospitality, aviation, travel) seeing a huge decline in the demand for their services, everyone having to suddenly start working remotely – just to name a few.

Indirectly, this huge economic uncertainty is affecting everyone else as well. How bad is it? According to the coronavirus impact survey ran by TOPO, as of week 3:

  • 30% of buyers froze their budget
  • 40% of buyers are not booking meetings
  • 80% of responders forecast that coronavirus will significantly or moderately decrease their pipeline

So… it’s pretty bad – but we all knew that. The big question is: is there anything we can do about it?

Should we… stop selling?

I hear many people are having doubts whether they should continue to sell actively. We’re in an unprecedented situation, so it’s understandable to have doubts, but the answer is very simple: hell yes!

I believe that we should focus on things that don’t change. What is it, in sales, that doesn’t change? A beautiful piece of advice from Devin Reed @ Gong summarized it perfectly:

“Sales has always been about solving problems. So, solve TODAY’s problems.”

Of course, we should sell – after all, this is what keeps our economy going, this is what keeps our businesses and jobs alive. But we should definitely rethink the way we do it, as the problems people are facing now have changed drastically.

#1 – rethink your value proposition

Go back to the drawing board. Think of your customers and how coronavirus affects their businesses. Try to figure out from scratch what their most burning problems are NOW and how you can help them with solving those.

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Some of those might overlap with what you’ve been pitching till now, but stay open-minded to new use-cases for your product/service – you should be able to spot new ones. You can also discover that the ones that were not that relevant in the past, are far more relevant now.

Try to put your offerings into either cost-saving or revenue-generating context – with the coronavirus-caused economic slowdown, anyone that can prove he can earn/save some bucks for the business will get the decision-makers’ attention.

Then go ahead and adjust your messaging accordingly – templates, sequences, scripts, talk-tracks, and even your website copy.

In your messaging, don’t be afraid to address the elephant (coronavirus) in the room. At the same time, do NOT try to leverage fear and uncertainty to sell your product. Be human, show empathy – simply ask them how they’re dealing with the current situation, and offer them help with {{ whatever you help with }}.

As an example, think of the event industry – your regular pitch won’t do much there now. But, if you can help them with taking their events virtual? They would be more than interested to hear you out.

#2 – rethink your target audience

Rethink your target audience. Going through the list of your existing customers is a great start – which ones are in trouble because of the coronavirus crisis and which ones are doing fine?

After identifying the ones that are doing fine, start outbound prospecting immediately to get more customers from that segment – the stability of your revenue stream depends on it.

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At the same time, think about your customers that are in trouble – is there anything you can do to make their life easier now? If yes, just do it – we need to help each other in these rough times.

When you’re done with this exercise, think of the segments that you’ve never worked with. The coronavirus epidemic has generated new problems in various industries, so it might have also generated new use-cases for your product/service.

For instance, at Growbots, we realized that with the incoming economic crisis, there’s a huge need for factoring services, as businesses need to improve their cash flow. Yet, not many business owners know about such funding options, so we reached out to factoring companies immediately to offer them help with getting in touch with those business owners proactively.

#3 – rethink your customer acquisition channels

Next, you need to reevaluate your methods of acquiring new customers. With all the conferences being canceled and inbound traffic being unpredictable due to all the FUD, you need a method that you could count on.

My recommendation is to double-down (or triple-down) on outbound prospecting – and I’m not saying this because at Growbots we developed a solution that automates outbound sales. If I were working at Hubspot, the biggest evangelist of inbound marketing, I’d say (and do) exactly the same. That is also a #1 recommendation from TOPO, and what 46% of sales and marketing leaders are already doing to offset the impact of the coronavirus.

In these rough times, you can’t just wait for leads, as those might not come. You need to become proactive – and that means doing outbound prospecting. It allows you to be in control of:

  • the volume – if you need more leads to hit your goals, just contact more prospects
  • who you’re talking with – reaching out to the segments you identified in step #2
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As you probably don’t want to hire and onboard new employees now, you can think about optimizing the team you have in place. Maybe inbound reps or closers have some spare time due to lower demand, that they can dedicate to prospecting? You can also consider getting an automated system that would make one team member extremely productive (think of it as having an SDR “on-steroids”).

#4 – dealing with remote work

This sudden, forced shift to working from home is a huge challenge – both for individuals and for teams/companies. A challenge that we should take very seriously. If we don’t guide our employees and implement the right habits within our companies, things can get very messy.

Fortunately, there’re tons of great resources online on how to deal with it – I highly encourage you to explore the links below.

Individuals
Tips from WFH champions
Staying Focused
Working from Home 101

Teams/Companies
How to build and manage a remote sales team by Close.io
Maintaining a culture within a remote sales team by Close.io
GitLab’s Guide to All-Remote
Zapier’s guide to working remotely

That’s it, folks. I hope that this short post will help you adapt your B2B sales strategy to all the craziness out there. If you feel there’s anything else I can do for you, please feel free to reach me @ chris@growbots.com

Further resources:
The Art of Customer Acquisition ebook
Growbots – Outbound Sales in 30 minutes a day

Stay safe!

improvise adapt overcome

Chris Zawisza

Chris Zawisza

Head of Sales @ Growbots - laser-focused on the growth of Growbots’ customer base. Always eager to brainstorm and explore new ideas.

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