COVID-19: Recovering B2B Sales
B2B sales leaders contemplating how to react both now and in the post-COVID-19 ‘new normal’, are facing the reality that they need to adjust how their organisations sell in the face of new customer habits and economic uncertainty.
Savvy B2B sales leaders know that the key to recovery is targeted, timely and relevant outreach – spotting opportunities and risks in their pipeline and reacting with agility to address them.
HubSpot documented the challenge of establishing urgency as a recognised barrier B2B sellers must leapfrog if they’re to give customers a reason to move forward or compel them to act.
But established trends towards increased agility in B2B sales are now playing out at pace during COVID-19.
To deliver outstanding B2B customer experiences sales leaders need to establish urgency and rapid customer responsiveness in addressing their most pressing pain points and frustrations.
As McKinsey point out, in an environment where habits and practices have changed so quickly and will likely continue to do so, B2B sales leaders need a clear view of what their customers want and what steps their company can take to address their needs.
So how do you spot opportunities (or threats) that could impact your sales pipeline?
The answer is sales trigger events.
What is a sales trigger event?
HubSpot’s definition of a sales trigger event is an occurrence that creates an opening for a marketing or a sales opportunity. A sales trigger is, therefore, something that specifically creates an opportunity for sales to engage.
During COVID-19 customer needs and sales situations are changing dramatically – from day-to-day and perhaps even hour-to-hour.
When urgency is vital, as it is right now, building agile daily rituals around the uncovering of sales triggers, delivered via advanced analytic solutions, will highlight immediate needs that help identify, prioritise, and convert opportunities.
Uncovering sales triggers
To spot sales triggers, sellers need to watch for the right signs, i.e. those that indicate the perfect time to reach out to a buyer. Sales triggers can be found in a variety of places:
- News – by definition, news is information about recent events, and business news is an insight into your customers and prospects
- Blogs – an excellent way to understand the culture and direction of a prospect organisation
- Social Media – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Glassdoor, etc. Recruitment drives and views of customers, peers, and employees can often be found within social media before they make mainstream news.
- Corporate Information – data from reputable sources such as Companies House and Experian can help uncover key financials and corporate information, indicating a macro level picture of growth or other interesting insights
However, it’s often difficult to avoid drowning under a sea of data, especially during times of crisis, making it difficult just to keep your head above the water, let alone being able to predict future needs.
To track and analyse such a vast amount of data requires far more compute power than any human brain is capable of. Not great when urgency is so important.
With the right tools, it’s possible to search through huge amounts of publicly available data, both structured and unstructured to uncover sales trigger events.
With the right sales intelligence tools, new triggers are always readily available and ready to be activated in real-time – uncovering the right trigger for the right consumer at the right time.
The sales triggers to jump on during COVID-19
Organisational changes – COVID-19 pivot
Companies of all sizes in almost all market sectors have had to adapt and evolve, pivoting their business to survive the pandemic and recover as we move out of lockdown.
Whether it be expediting technology transformation to adapt to remote working, pushing into new markets, making significant changes to supply chains, or introducing new products and services, this often calls for different types of support and potentially new vendors and therefore an opportunity to get in early, help them recover and establish your business as a partner that can assist them on the path to recovery.
Do this now: Head to your Artesian news feed and flick through some of your companies in your watchlists. Look out for the colour coded Triggers.
Decision-makers returning from furlough
Two-thirds of British businesses have used the Government’s furlough scheme, meaning that many of your customers will have had a decision-maker shake-up during lockdown impacting your ability to keep in touch.
But as people return to work they will be looking for ways to make a quick a measurable impact on the business.
They may be looking at ways to improve productivity, they might be scoping out new technologies, they might be looking for ways to save money, or even opportunities to enter a new market.
Whatever their individual motivations and objectives for COVID-19 recovery they could be in a position to talk.
Do this now: Get creative. When you learn of a decision-maker returning to the workplace, send them something that gets you noticed – just try to keep it relevant to your company or offering. For example we’ve created a Welcome Back to Business Pack for our customers.
What is going on around your customers and prospects – with their customers/end-users, changes within their market, or amongst their competition?
During COVID-19 markets have evolved eye-watering pace. No matter what industry your buyers are in, there are significant new market forces that they must contend with.
Don’t just look directly at your customer or prospect but track sales trigger events up and down their supply chain, monitor what’s happening within their customer base to identify potential needs, and help them deliver a solution.
Likewise, a major industry or market shift, as seen during the lockdown, will necessitate customers and prospects to capitalise on a new opportunity or avoid a potential emerging risk, again spotting these sales trigger events can help sellers to reach out quickly.
Do this now: Create a watchlist based on your prospect’s customers and use the Artesian COVID-19 filter. Visit your prospect’s website and look out for testimonials, customer logos and case studies, and keep an eye on what’s happening with those companies in the news. Find something interesting? Let your prospect know about it.
Legislation or regulatory changes
The COVID-19 outbreak has led to a raft of new legislation, as a result of the Coronavirus Act 2020. Companies are having to adapt quickly to keep pace and ensure they’re meeting their obligations.
No matter what industry you sell to, it’s worthwhile to keep a close eye on new laws and regulations in case you can be of some aid in your buyers’ time of need.
By uncovering these market triggers ahead of time you can generate perfect opportunities to mitigate potential pain within your customer and prospect base.
Do this now: It’s worth spending a little extra time to build an understanding of the customer/prospect’s new regulatory landscape, access gov.uk, news from trade publications, and interpretations produced by analysts and consultancies.
Build an understanding and put together a plan that aligns your business with theirs in ways that help reduce the regulatory burden.
With eye-watering percentages falls in the UK’s GDP, the OECD predicting a recession, and highlighting that recovery to pre-crisis output will take time, your customers may be experiencing financial difficulties?
Have they had to take advantage of CBILS or the Bounce Back scheme?
Despite financial uncertainty companies may still want to invest in securing their future, whether that be a product or service that can help reverse the downward trend, new initiatives that help accelerate growth, a product that helps save money or improve efficiency, or investment in new cutting edge technology to improve productivity.
Identifying financial sales trigger events can open a multitude of opportunities to explain how your company is an asset to turn things around or help accelerate growth even further.
Do this now: In Artesian scrutinise financial timelines, growth indicators, P&L, details of mortgages and shareholdings, and read through annual accounts to spot interesting trends in the health of the business – what does the EBITDA look like?
Reimagining and reinvention
COVID-19 will see may businesses completely reimagine their business model, with some perhaps even undergoing a complete change of focus and direction as they prepare for the new normal, as such they will appreciate the support, new thinking, and innovative solutions.
Spotting strategic initiatives can be hard, they’re often closely guarded secrets. If you can pre-empt such moves you have the opportunity to align your service to their evolving needs, publish insightful content that could positively impact their reinvention, and establish yours as a business most likely to meet their needs.
Do this now: Think outside the box, harness predictive analytics to model the customer journey, make predictions about pain, opportunities and challenges they face as their business evolves.
Use the insight gathered to build sophisticated sales strategies, marketing campaigns, and product/service development roadmaps that add value and establish yours as a partner that will walk into the new normal with them.
COVID-19 has pushed many industries towards a digital inflection point and an increased urgency to adopt new technologies that assist with a future of remote working, social distanced production, and increased efficiencies across all areas of operation.
If a customer or prospect suddenly starts shelling out for expensive new technology or initiates migration to a new superior platform, there’s a great chance they’re cash-rich and looking to make changes to the way their business operates.
Do this now: Drill down deeper into your Artesian news feed and create filters based on COVID-19 related stories.
Uncovering sales trigger events is a must for B2B sellers as we recover from COVID-19
The new normal will be anything but static. In a dynamic and fast-moving new B2B sales world, we believe that in order to respond quickly to a constantly changing environment, B2B sellers will need to have unrivalled access to customer intelligence and advanced abilities to apply customer insights.
As McKinsey so rightly points out, more than ever before, this is the time for organisations to invest in building these capabilities and taking advantage of the digital sales tools that are now available.
Find out more in this whitepaper about how Artesian can help you and your organisation prepare for the new normal by uncovering the all-important sales trigger events within your pipeline.