When the economy stalled during the second quarter 2020, salespeople everywhere felt the effects. Customers on the cusp of signing contracts withdrew overnight, citing concerns ranging from their own client losses to uncertainty about their operational needs.
Though global index report indicators suggest that business is slowly moving back to normal, sales teams are still reeling from the after-effects of the pandemic. And as Harvard Business Review (hbr.org) noted in a July piece, around half of B2B prospects weren’t ready to start signing on the bottom line.
If your sales pipeline dried up in the midst of coronavirus, don’t assume you can’t turn it back on. By implementing a few strategies, you may be able to start hitting your monthly and quarterly projections again—or even exceeding them.
1. Reimagine your sales scripts.
Most companies lean on sales scripts to some degree. Scripts ensure everyone in your sales force speaks the same language, not to mention delivers consistent messaging and service to prospects and clients.
Spend time over the next week reviewing and refreshing any sales scripts your people rely upon. Ask yourself if your scripts could be missing the mark in engaging your target consumers. For instance, a successful pre-COVID sales strategy might have been to push your product’s versatility. Today, qualified leads might need to hear something else about your product to convince them to buy, such as your extended payment structure.
2. Update your sales tech stack.
The more time your team spends directly working with prospects, the higher their likelihood of snagging deals. Unfortunately, Pace Productivity figures show sales reps spend less than a quarter of their on-the-clock time selling. You can change that figure for your company by adding sales tools to your tech stack that promote automation and efficiency.
For instance, you may want to focus your attention on streamlining how you send and receive contracts through the Internet. Or you might want to add cloud-based software that culls online data and sends your salespeople added insights about their target customers. No matter which tools you try, prioritize ones that offer seamless integration into what your team already uses.
3. Offer customers omnichannel ways to discover your company—and buy.
One report reveals that omnichannel browsing and buying is becoming second-nature to all consumers. Knowing this, you’ll want your sales personnel to be able to effortlessly connect with prospects on their preferred channels.
Being available to leads on just about any platform from basic text to videoconferencing to social media makes it simpler to connect. Not only are the leads less likely to resist a sale on a familiar channel, but they’re more apt to respond and dialogue.
4. Update your sales pipeline to fit post-COVID customer behaviors.
There’s been a huge mindset shift in the B2B and B2C consumer marketplace since the beginning of the 2020 pandemic. Instead of sticking with the brands, goods, and services they loved, they’re opening up to trying new businesses. This is a double-edged sword for your company, because it poses both opportunity and risk.
The opportunity lies in being able to effectively woo customers away from the arms of your competitors. For instance, you may want to engage with customers who have always seemed out of reach. Now, they might be more open to a discussion about switching brands. Of course, you’ll need to focus heavily on your user experience at the same time to avoid losing long-time customers to industry disruptors and startups.
5. Go back to “extinct” customers.
Remember those customers who left and never returned? Or the ones who got to the contract stage and dropped off the face of the earth? Now is a good time to reconnect, especially if your sales team has a little down time. Have them get in touch with MIA prospects, just to say hello and touch base. Don’t count on buyers who disappeared to convert, but do try to resuscitate your relationship.
Reaching out to an extinct customer may seem like a pointless activity, particularly to the sales member who was originally ghosted. Nevertheless, reconnecting could produce unexpected fruit or even a hot referral. If nothing else, you’ll know that you didn’t leave any stone unturned in your desire to invigorate your sales pipeline.
6. Rework your inbound sales content pieces to drive up leads.
Have your leads stopped flowing in the past few months? Have they been inconsistent at best, sometimes hitting the mark and other times letting you down? Numbers don’t lie, and if your inbound sales pieces like downloadable whitepapers, videos, and how-to demonstrations aren’t attracting viable prospects, you’d be wise to revamp them.
While you’re freshening outbound and inbound sales content, be sure to conduct A/B split tests on everything from headlines to images. That way, you’ll get more mileage out of your experiment and be able to see what’s engaging with your audience best at the moment.
7. Play the numbers.
Data is your friend right now, so start collecting and analyzing information on all your sales touchpoints. You’ll want to know everything from the percentage of deals closed to how long your lead spends, on average, in each selling pipeline stage.
After you begin collecting common data points, you can start drilling down with the help of specialized software. As an example, you might discover that your sales close rates inexplicably skyrocket at certain times of the month. Don’t stop until you figure out the cause of this appealing anomaly. And when you do determine why it’s happening, brainstorm ways to replicate the same situation.
Without sales, you won’t be able to remain competitive or achieve your corporate mission. Even if it seems as though your selling pipeline is bone-dry, make a few adjustments. You might just tap into a wellspring of interest.