Maybe it didn’t feel like it at the time, but in 2019, there were prospecting opportunities everywhere you turned. Without a shadow of a doubt, your prospects’ priorities have shifted monumentally over the past few months.
Even as we’re coming out of lockdown, the impact of COVID-19 will be felt for many months to come. For sales managers, this means they must find ways to adapt and overcome the challenges the pandemic has provoked.
Back in March, you might have even thought about throwing your sales development strategy and sales playbook out of the window and starting from scratch. However, while it’s true that your sales strategy might need an update, the key to improving prospecting during COVID and its aftermath is by pivoting your strategy, not abandoning it.
Here at Bloobirds, we’re committed to the Smart Sales Development philosophy. In real terms, this means that while the COVID-19 crisis is still here, sales managers need to do four things to enable them to survive and thrive through unprecedented times and beyond:
Don’t stop prospecting just because of the changing times. In this prospecting guide, we’ll go through how sales managers can utilize their SDRs’ skills in different ways, update their messaging, re-evaluate their sales tech stacks, and find their niche market using real-time data.
Sales development teams are still outbound prospecting during COVID-19. Your prospects’ focus has more than likely seen a complete overhaul, but there’s still a lot of value to this method, as long as you change your outbound strategy to adapt to your prospects’ situations.
81% of sales organizations still view outbound prospecting as a key strategy during the COVID-19 pandemic.Sales Hacker
Right now, the most challenging part of the sales funnel is the bottom, where the hard to close deals live. COVID-19 has its own bottom of the funnel roadblocks:
But, don’t be tempted to freeze your team’s sales development activity right now, as doing so only delays your future growth potential. Rather than seeing this as a time to hibernate and wait for the storm to pass, look at this period of time as an opportunity to regroup and start building out your pipeline.
Bloobirds data predicts that the average sales cycle will lengthen by at least 3 months, so use this time to build relationships and have deals waiting when spending unfreezes.
Here’s how to do that by focusing on top of the funnel activities:
Taking the time to look at each of these activities will set your team up for future growth without completely forgoing your original sales development strategy.
Prospecting in the “new normal” – don’t abandon your strategy, adapt it.
Now is a great time to take stock of your resources and identify not only where costs can be cut, but also how you can restructure resources and capitalize on your current capabilities.
Now that you’ve got some time to breathe, this is a great time to evaluate your current sales development tech stack. Is your stack truly serving your business needs? What features are you missing that would foster business growth? Is the sum of the stack truly cost-effective?
Here’s how you can start taking stock of your tech stack:
First, analyze direct costs of your tech stack
Next, analyze indirect costs of your tech stack
Your SDRs may not be selling as much as they were four months ago, but there are other ways you can use their skills and knowledge to flesh out other areas of the business and prep your prospects for future business.
68% of sales organizations have experienced a decrease in booked meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic.Sales Hacker
SDRs are both your product and customer experts, which makes them a goldmine of fresh content. Why not get them to work with your marketing team to help build out some strategic content, such as bottom of the funnel collateral that only their expertise can provide?
Here are a few examples of content your SDRs can contribute to:
If you haven’t started adjusting to the current situation, it’s not too late to start. Forget about your usual automated email sequences and planned pipelines: It’s time to address the shrinking market by finding your sweet spot and reviving old relationships.
Right now, your sweet spot is where your prospects’ needs fit with what makes your product or service stand out above the rest of the noise. You may find that new opportunities arise and that your prospect persona has changed.
Put yourself in the shoes of your customer: What needs, wants, and pain points are new, which are old, and which have become more or less of a priority?
Here’s how to find your sweet spot:
One of the worst things you can do right now is to burn your market by continuing to use automated sequences without any insight into each account’s current situation.
One of the best things you can do, however, is to revisit old conversations where perhaps the timing wasn’t right, identify where you left the conversation, and reconnect on the prospect’s new priorities.
Maybe your product has changed. Maybe you’ve added new features that are more relevant to old accounts. Or maybe your messaging and value proposition is more clear and easier to get on board with. Right now is the time to check back in and see which accounts you can target based on this pivot in strategy.
To succeed with this strategy, you’ll also need to review your sales success formula. Instead of giving SDRs new companies to engage with, identify old accounts, and create a strategy and process whereby SDRs can recycle old accounts.
Here’s an example of the sales success formula –
In the example above, the 30 accounts not turned into opportunities still belong to the target market – and should be revisited.
Remember, impersonal and irrelevant emails only prompt mass opt-outs and mistrust from your target market. And since markets aren’t infinite, especially in today’s climate, it’s time to prospect smarter.
Bloobirds’ all-in-one prospecting platform can help you make the most of your target markets with a full nurturing subsystem. The simple overview makes sure you don’t forget your non-converted, but still target, accounts.
Now more than ever, it’s crucial to build out a solid pipeline to help you convert your target market into opportunities when the time is right. Use this ‘downtime’ to test markets to find your niche, organize and prioritize accounts, and get your cold call scripts in order.
Looking beyond the situation as it stands is tough, but creating a solid pipeline now will ensure you’re ready to launch post-crisis.
How to build out a pipeline:
91% of sales organizations have changed the messaging they use due to the COVID-19 pandemic.Sales Hacker
Without a doubt, your old pre-crisis messaging is stale right now, but the answer is not to spread fear or dread amongst your prospects. Personalization, empathy, and true relevance are the keys to getting crisis messaging done right.
Of course, your automated emails should be paused right now, and in place should be highly customized and personalized messages. Acknowledge the crisis, but don’t be glib, and don’t be over-the-top.
Here’s an example email that worked for us at Bloobirds –
With the email above, we were able to garner a response on the first message, because it contained the following:
Below’s another example where this messaging strategy worked out for us because the email:
In short, here’s how to frame your messaging to get better response rates:
“Selling is solving peoples’ problems for a profit”Connie Kadansky Sales Expert
Kadansky couldn’t be more on the money, especially now, a time where peoples’ problems have been transformed so dramatically. Outbound prospecting is still alive and well, although its focus must shift to meet the priorities of your prospects. Being able to pivot, change your mindset, and become agile during a crisis also makes for a stronger team of SDRs.
Retreating and halting sales during this pandemic is not an option. Only organizations that make their visibility a priority, while adjusting their messaging, pipeline plans, and employee operations will survive what the future holds.
Find out how Bloobirds’ all-in-one B2B sales prospecting platform can help keep your team of SDRs on the right track through tough times.
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