The B2B technology sales realm is characterized by its own set of unique complexities.
Fairly long sales cycles involving multiple decision-makers with fluctuating emotions throughout precisely describe its intricate reality. While patience, compassion, and commitment along with deploying smart sales strategies have formed the cornerstone of success in this backdrop, the typical best practices followed by IT sales teams appear to have suddenly embraced obsolescence. COVID-19 has introduced sudden and drastic changes, creating additional challenges in both – generating new opportunities, and closing IT Sales successfully. With a seismic shift in the entire business environment, it’s important to first sit down and get the starting direction right instead of blindly shooting arrows in the dark. In that light, here are some actionable insights to help adapt, and respond to the different changes in the present scenario –
1. Redefine The Definition Of An Ideal Customer As opposed to frantically attempting to sell with the same old road map in a transformed world, it’s advisable to restructure processes and begin with rewriting the definition of an ideal target customer. This step needs to involve practicing deeper empathy while factoring in the different important aspects relevant to the current environment. Relevant directions to think along could include evaluating how the pandemic has impacted the different existing target persona’s businesses or their customer’s businesses. Doing so can help gather a better idea of which potential prospects are in a better position to make purchases or close deals sooner than the others, and in turn help with identifying the right buyer clusters to focus on. Moreover, this exercise must also involve recognizing that since average purchase budgets are lower universally, each of the prospects is likely to evaluate factors much more minutely than before to make buying decisions. Finally, it could also be fruitful to consider focusing more actively on cross-selling or up-selling to the existing customer base with whom a good connection already exists than trying to convince a large bunch of new people.
2. Re-evaluate Suite Of Offerings While constant upgrading and improvement is a staple characteristic of the IT business realm, COVID-19 has introduced its immediate urgency to re-evaluate and redefine the product/service portfolio. Acknowledging the impact of the pandemic, sales teams could consider re-adjusting their selling arsenal, and prioritizing those products or services that may have greater relevance in the current scenario. Restructuring pricing, payment terms, or figuring out more relevant bundling could also be evaluated to positively impact the sales closing numbers. The central idea behind the exercises in this step should be to identify and analyze the key obstacles to sales success and discuss those findings with seniors and the management. This could help with arriving at successful product/service pivots to suit the present climate best.
3. Start Looking For Leads In Different Places Another worthy exercise in the renewed roadmap could be to start looking out for potential prospects in places that were historically ignored. Typically in the pre-COVID-19 world, IT lead generation was primarily from events, referrals and physical meetings post-cold outreach. This pool could now be expanded to include a larger sample size of prospects by embracing the expanse of social selling. Steps under this could include leveraging social media and the different online mediums to carry out the sales prospecting processes to scale outreach.
4. Continue Relationship Nurturing Exercises While Distancing With a sharp fadeout of the formerly popular relationship-building activities such as face-to-face meetings, or regular socializing over wine & dine or industry events, the socializing drill in the IT business suddenly received its massive jolt with a major shift towards virtual communication.
Prevalent Go To Market Sales Models Of Surveyed Companies During Covid-19 (Source: McKinsey & Company)
However, even with the new social distancing norm, it is important to acknowledge that maintaining contact is still critical for building and nurturing fruitful relationships.
Communicating virtually and non-intrusively with those who’re genuinely interested in talking, while adding scoops of value in the process is what is currently needed. Doing so through multiple touch points can bring out fruitful relationships as a natural consequence, without having regular physical meetings.
As an example, a good relationship-building exercise could revolve around communication helping prospects identify their current needs better or solving their problems promptly by sharing useful information regularly.
Another point to note is that even though these value-adding exercises need not necessarily reap immediate results, they’re surely going to be an investment for the long term in terms of a stronger future pipeline.
5. Invest In Upgrading Skills & Technology
Finally, upgrading the basic toolkit and skillset at the disposal of sales teams could make a robust difference to the success rates.
Empowering the sales team with the right set of data-driven tools could help to gather real insights at speed, and in turn, respond better and faster to dynamic situations. The technology could also facilitate the smoother collaboration of sales teams with the other teams, helping in amplification of desired results in a remote or partially remote setup.
Finally, investing in neuroscience-based coaching for sales personnel could also help in carving out a competitive edge in the market. In essence, neuroscience coaching can introduce a better cognitive understanding of buyer mentalities and situations among sales teams along with enhancing their understanding and practical application of more true-to-the-day sales techniques.
The B2B sales realm is currently best described as one at an inflection point.
As per a survey conducted by McKinsey, most decision-makers feel that the changes introduced by the pandemic are likely going to be sticky and that their companies are going to rely on the re-invented go-to-market models for closing sales.
Likelihood of Surveyed Companies Sustaining Their New Go-to-Market Models for Next 12+ Months (Source: McKinsey & Company)
Successfully recovering and reimaging B2B IT Sales successfully in this post COVID world should be looked at as an exercise involving rethinking the traditional sales best practices and pivoting actions to align with the current climate.
Refining the narrative with a revised definition of target customers with a renewed priority on what to sell, while continuing innovative lead generation and lead nurturing is what’s needed to keep the momentum going. Investing in upgrading skills and technology can help provide an additional boost to adapt better and outmaneuver the uncertainty.