For manufacturing salespeople, it’s been challenging to navigate selling in our COVID-19 world. The tried and true sales tactics such as face-to-face meetings, trade shows, and conferences have been canceled for the foreseeable future. According to a study by McKinsey & Company, 90 percent of sales have moved to a video conferencing or phone sales model, and while some skepticism remains, more than half believe this is equally or more effective than sales models used before COVID-19. It is hard to know how our post-COVID world will look, but it is evident that the shift to implementing more digital sales efforts will remain.
Digital trends have been growing for many years now, with more and more manufacturers adopting inbound marketing and actively working to improve their digital footprint. Now, with people unable to travel and sell as they normally would, digital trends have accelerated. B2B sales operations are going to be drastically different from our pre-coronavirus world and it is important that manufacturers adjust their marketing and sales strategies to not only fit our world now but also how our business operations will look moving forward.
Below, learn 3 considerations you should use when adapting your B2B sales strategies to fit our ‘New Normal’ Business World During COVID-19:
Amp up your customer outreach
Sitting and waiting for leads to come to you and relying on your great industry reputation is simply not an option. Now, with face-to-face meetings, conferences, and trade shows canceled for the foreseeable future, it is time to develop a clear approach for prospect and customer outreach and lead generation from all possible channels: outbound lead generation (direct mail, cold calls, and emails) and inbound lead generation (search engine optimization, social media marketing, public relations, pay-per-click ads, and email automation.)
Meet with your sales and business development team to discuss what leads they are actively working on. Additionally, take inventory of what professional associations, personal networks, and LinkedIn groups each of your team members are involved in. I guarantee there are great prospects from your team members’ individual networks that are not in your CRM. Just as important, do you even have a coordinated, central, and easy to use CRM? Now, as salespeople are confined in their homes or offices instead of on the road, take this opportunity to figure out where your prospects are and develop a strategy to reach them.
Review your sales process & develop a consistent, structured process
In busy times, it is easy to get complacent and go through the motions of your B2B manufacturing sales process. Complacency is not an option in our ‘new normal’ and every deal matters–more than ever. Making assumptions based on past data or interactions with customers is simply not an option.
Adapting your approach to an inbound marketing and sales approach is an excellent way to personalize your prospect’s interactions with your brand. Inbound marketing allows you to track engagement all in one easy-to-utilize platform (web page views, document opens, email read, content downloaded, etc.) That way, your salespeople are informed about who that prospect is, how close they are to making a purchasing decision, what that prospect needs, so that your salespeople are better equipped to provide prospects with the solutions they need.
Adapt to our digital-centric business world
In times like right now, the saying “the only constant is change” rings truer than ever before. It is important to understand that every customer you are selling to is doing business in uncharted territory. Prospects that have gone dark may get acquired by another company, giving you an excellent opportunity to re-engage. Companies are all evaluating their current suppliers, so it could be the perfect time to follow up with previously cold leads. While making the switch to a new vendor, product or solution may not have been in the cards pre-coronavirus, making the switch could seem more advantageous to your prospects now. Always come from the perspective of first helping your prospects and customers and second, improving how they do business. Run your typical sales pitch by your team and brainstorm how you all can adapt it to speak to the unique challenges and concerns your prospects and customers are facing right now.
It’s hard to believe that we are months into the ‘new normal.”. B2B manufacturing sales need to shift to an inbound marketing and sales approach in order to stay competitive and relevant. While COVID-19 has presented many challenges for salespeople, it also provides great opportunities for salespeople to take inventory of their sales and marketing efforts, streamline the sales process with a systemized digital approach, and refine messaging to resonate with prospects and customers’ biggest challenges.
Interested in revamping your sales strategy to a more digital approach? We can help. At Felber PR & Marketing, we work exclusively with business-to-business manufacturers and help them drive quality leads, determine the best tactics for their unique goals, and provide manufacturing salespeople with real-time data and insight into their prospects so they can sell smarter not harder.