Let’s start with a fact – nothing lasts forever, even the COVID-19 Pandemic.
In Canada, we’ve been navigating this chaos for several weeks but in other parts of the world, for much longer. If we use the rest of the world as an example, we know that we can’t just look at this from the perspective of focusing on enduring the new conditions. We must think about adapting to them and helping our businesses stay afloat. We also need to think more broadly about how we can help our community and tribe, which also includes yourself, your team, and your customers.
Here are my top 10 points to encourage your sales and marketing during COVID-19 (focusing more on B2B sales as this is our core focus at Office Guardians Marketing Solutions)
- REMAIN HOPEFUL – admit that there will be a major impact and then decide that you’re going to fight for your business – your audience isn’t lost, they are just changing the way and frequency in which they buy, so make every attempt to learn how they are doing this so you can respond to it.
- MAKE “LONG-TERM SALES” YOUR MINDSET – are you going to be transactional, short-term, and desperate? or helpful, long-term, and patient? Your company values will decide this. There’s a saying that goes “values aren’t values unless following them costs you money.”
- LEARN TO SERVE YOUR CURRENT CLIENTS – simple math here, every client relationship you retain is one that you don’t have to replace immediately. Practice active listening! Don’t lead with an up-sell, find out where they are really struggling and offer to be a genuine problem solver for them. Sometimes this will make you pursue solutions that you didn’t quite offer before but if this presents value to your customers, it will only build the strength of your relationships.
- BUILD AND STRENGTHEN REFERRAL PARTNERSHIPS – functional partnerships are a winning formula for any business. Why not refer “not-a-fit” business to other colleagues, this always builds relationships and if you’re top-of-mind when a partner hears about an opportunity, that’s one less sales opportunity you need to find via cold outreach.
- OVER-COMMUNICATE TO SURVIVE – in this environment, you have to over-communicate. We’ve spent the first few weeks personally calling all of our regular clients and trying to support them managing their fears around business, not as a marketing service, but our goal was to bring hope, encouragement, and positivity to them. Your clients do business with you because thy value something you provide to them and by extension, they have placed trust in you. That’s a responsibility – use it – they won’t forget it.
- PRACTICE COMPASSION, EMPATHY, AND PATIENCE. you have to choose to do this, it doesn’t always come by default. Right now, everyone is distracted, kids are home, people are restricted and that leads to frustrations and anger. As humans, we fear the things we don’t understand. Reconsider your sales messages and selling techniques – right now no one wants to feel like they’re being sold to, but on the flip side, everyone understands that for businesses to survive they must sell. Ask and listen, before you tell. Now is not the time to send pushy or otherwise tone-deaf sales messages. Provide value and communicate how your company does it, but do it with tact while acknowledging that we’re living in a new normal right now and you have to be sensitive to that.
- YOUR CLIENT IS THE HERO AND YOU ARE THE GUIDE – alongside every great hero, there is a guide that helps them overcome their problem. That’s the hero’s journey. Your client is the hero of their story which means that they’re going to have a problem. This leaves you with only one option. To become the guide that is there to answer all their questions and help them solve their problems. Every company out there has a problem, it’s the nature of being stuck in a moment that is unprecedented. Some companies, unfortunately, have not survived but of those that are, some have had to pivot and some have found themselves in a period of growth that they have never been needed more than they are right now (eg Zoom) and are now forced to scale rapidly. For those pivoting or scaling, they have unique problems and because no one has been in this moment before, they need all the support they can get.
- CREATE MORE CONTENT, THEN CREATE SOME MORE (EMBRACE DIGITAL) – turn your offline events into webinars. Create presentations with manuals and updates for your long-time customers. Make the most out of your business social media and LinkedIn influence. Right now, your potential clients are spending much more time online than they usually do, so they’re a lot easier to engage and connect with. Recent stats show that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin use is up by 40% compared to a month ago. We know that fear paralyzes, but going off the radar is the worst thing you can do right now. Given the intensity of the situation, your prospects are not likely to remember you when everything is over. Staying top-of-mind via online channels and inbound marketing is important because it helps customer retention — and ensures that you will have an audience to work with once things are back to normal.
- NETWORK LIKE YOUR FUTURE DEPENDS ON IT – devote extra time, effort and resources to prospecting and lead generation, right now, even if you’re currently busy. Remember the stat we just gave for how many people are online right now? Well, some of those people you could never get a hold of because they’re always busy or they have ‘gatekeepers’, well they’re now in pajamas at home on their computers with their kids running around. We all need each other to get through this bad version of Groundhog Day and they’re more open to connecting than ever before. We will likely never have an opportunity like this again where the barriers to connecting is simply the click of the accept button.
- DON’T ASK, DON’T GET – this is one of the most memorable phrases from our recently completed time in the ATBX program. Leaders need leaders for support. We all keep saying we’re in this together, let’s really embrace that. In times of crisis it’s easy to become isolated and because no one has been in this moment before, let’s be transparent, vulnerable and honest, we simply don’t have a COVID-19 business blueprint. What we do have, is a moment where every business and leader around us is stuck in this moment too. We’re stronger together and we need to use this strength. Ask for help, there’s nothing wrong with that. If you don’t ask, you can’t get!
BONUS: Ad spending is down on social media by 30%. TRANSLATION: With less competition for your message & ads, and 40% more traffic online, now is your time. Your odds look really good.