1. A New Sales World Awaits
A new sales world awaits us after the Lockdown caused by the current world crisis and unfortunately, not everyone is prepared.
In the same way that the worldwide web and social media changed the way we sell, the Lockdown will also change the way we sell, but at a much faster pace. It’s not just the advent of video conferencing and working from home that will change, complete business models are about to change as we enter a new sales world.
Companies who previously hosted teams of employees in expensive city-centre locations will be reluctant to take on new leases. Many will downsize and introduce hybrid models where people alternate between home and office to work.
Some employees who previously commuted to work will be reluctant to go back to their cars & trains, to spend hours commuting when they have proven they can be just as productive while working from home.
More importantly, many Business Leaders will lack the confidence to rebuild for fear of being hit by a second wave of the virus and who could blame them.
This lack of confidence will keep many businesses in survival mode as they focus on business continuity and rebuilding cash reserves.
In practical terms, none of this is good for the economy and the world of selling and customer acquisition just got a lot tougher overnight.
If you’re concerned about sales in your organisation check out our full range of consulting services and talk with one of our sales specialists.
2. Current Misconceptions
Business as usual is gone. There is no more usual and those who are expecting their customers to simply “switch” back on after the Lockdown are in for a big shock.
Products and services that were previously classed as essential in the new world may be classed as a luxury, as businesses look to streamline and go back to basics. And just when you thought things were bad you may also consider the icing on the top of the Lockdown cake, which is the recession that is sure to follow.
Certain industries like travel, tourism, commercial property, hospitality & events will take longer than others to come back and the bigger question is can they survive the downturn long enough?
With Salaries being the biggest overhead for many businesses we’re already seeing companies let go sales and marketing people as they try to survive.
The winners in the new Sales World will be those that can re-invent themselves and align their products and services with the new minimalist business models that will now appear.
Customers will continue with web-based meetings as they remain fearful of the potential implications that travel brings. Companies that never dreamt of selling via conference calls are currently being forced to re-think their strategy during the Lockdown and they will be slow to move back to the old world if ever as will their customers.
3. Sales Strategy After Lockdown
There is no time like the present to plan and prepare for life after the Lockdown and we’ve listed below the areas that you should prioritise in your sales strategy.
3.1 Align Sales & Marketing
Despite best practice advocating otherwise, many companies still have separate sales and marketing functions and as the new sales world struggles to function on reduced budgets, sales & marketing needs to be aligned and re-focussed on lead generation and new customer acquisition. There should no longer be silos as sales and marketing park their egos and join forces to hunt down new business opportunities.
With studies showing that 60-70% of marketing content is never used and a massive 75% of marketing leads failing to convert to a sale, there is no valid reason for not merging sales and marketing. Digital Marketing and Traditional Marketing need to be aligned with Sales and the sales and marketing strategy should be rolled up into one overall Growth strategy. Furthermore, research from the Aberdeen Group shows that companies who have aligned their sales and marketing are achieving
- 32% more revenue
- 38% higher win rates
- 35% increase in customer retention
Further research from Sirius Decisions shows that companies who have aligned Sales & Marketing experience 24% faster revenue growth and 27% faster profit growth.
3.2 Re-Hire and Re-Train Wisely
In the new Sales world Businesses will need marketers that can sell and salespeople who can market. New hybrid Sales & Marketing teams that can research, target, hunt and convert from a desk will be king. To fulfill this HR needs to focus on hiring competency based skills centered around business development and re-train existing Salespeople to help their marketing colleagues with content, customer questions and pain points and how to become thought leaders. For many this will mean a move towards more bespoke sales training that is needs driven and drives a measurable business ROI.
3.3 Partner with Customers
Whereby previously marketing had little to no interaction with customers, new cross-function teams need to get closer to customers in order to gain valuable insight and feedback, which will then be recycled into new sales strategies, and in some cases the next generation of products and services. The days of build it and they will come are gone.
3.4 Create Joint KPI’s and Objectives
Previously impenetrable business silos should be smashed down by joint KPI’s and objectives which force sales and marketing teams to share, collaborate and work towards common goals. This will force sales to take an interest in marketing activities and content and force marketing to work with sales to help get deals over the line.
3.5 Market Through the Pipeline
Where Marketing previously stopped once the prospect converted to a lead new content should be focussed to market to:
- Nurture leads that are not yet ready to be passed to sales
- Targeted content for each stage of the Sales Pipeline
- Post sale content that helps up-sell and increase customer lifetime value
3.6 Refine Your Targets
In some cases your customers will either have changed their Value Propositions or business models as they adapt to life after Lockdown. If you want to retain their business you need to adapt with them and respond to their new requirements.
Marketing and Sales need to get together and create and refine a new set of Perfect Prospect Profiles that will enable them to re-focuss their efforts based on the new Sales World.
3.7 Sell Up
In many cases companies undervalue their products and services and whilst price is always important a race to the bottom is the last thing companies need at this time.
Recessions create change and change is good for the Entrepreneurial minded Sales Hunter and those who are brave will Sell up, not down.
What we mean by “Sell Up” is that wherever your current market is you should use the recession to break out. Organisations who had previously been paying £250 per hour for legal services will be looking to cut costs so the Lawyers who have been charging £100 per hours should be offering them £175 per hour. SaaS companies selling at £50 per month should re-focus on their competitors customers who have been paying £75 per month and be doing deals at £65 per month. Sell Up not down.
3.7 Brands with the Right Story Will Survive
The big Brands will double down on their existing customer base and extract all the loyalty they can, however, like every other business they need new customers to feed their machine.
We’ve spoken previously about the opportunities for the “Challenger Brands” who have less overheads and by nature should be more agile, can quickly reposition themselves to steal business from the brands. Equally Startups and SMEs will use the leveler that is the internet to sell up their channels. But they all need a story.
It’s not difficult to win business in any economy but the winners in the new Sales World will be those with the best story. How did they treat their customers during the crisis? How did they treat their employees and how did they help their community?
If your business doesn’t have a brand story, start making the story now.
3.8 Focus on Long Term ROI
Sales and marketing needs to refocus activities on strategies and tactics that provide a residual value to the business. Gone are the days where companies could spend £10,000 on exclusive Executive events which in some cases had little to no ROI. Every campaign will be scrutinised for ROI like never before and the winners in the new Sales World will focus on sales and marketing activities that provide both short and long term ROI to their business.
3.9 Web Presence
With 4.33 Billion Active Users and Google providing 40,000 searches per second companies will refocuss on their web presence. In addition, 55% of buyers search for reviews before making a purchase and 30% of buyers choose their supplier based on the website. Why wouldn’t you double down on your web presence?
Companies can no longer afford to have websites that don’t generate a consistent flow of good quality leads. The days of the expensive, glossy brochure website are gone, to be replaced with high value, content-driven sites that generate new sales leads or even better, product or service orders via their shopping carts.
3.10 Sales Performance
For the Salespeople that are left there will inevitably be a much stronger requirement for Salespeople and Sales Managers to deliver a measurable ROI. To survive, they will be forced to become Thought Leaders and become the “go-to” people in their industry for advice.
In many cases the new hybrid Sales Hunter will be desk-based and focus on “opening doors” and completing pre-sales qualifying before either closing via the web or handing opportunities off to product and technical specialists.
Business Development which was always hard is about to get much more difficult as companies lock down spending and change priorities.
There will be a focus on the ROI of every single Sales Rep like never before.