New Sales Practices to Adopt in the Midst of the COVID-19 Crisis

Outbound Lead Generation and Sales Campaigns and Representatives

We are in the middle of an unprecedented crisis on a global scale. As well as the clear health implications of COVID-19, businesses are experiencing financial and political failings and the most unpredictable economic period in recent times.

As unnerving as these times are, there are plenty of ways for startups to hedge against the current situation. In fact, by being agile and making changes to your company’s sales processes, there are even ways to potentially turn the current economic changes into opportunities.

Here are five new practices to adopt in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

1.  Target New Recession-resistant Markets

The first step is to reconsider the industries that you’re targeting. In the past few weeks, you’ll have noticed that some industries such as hospitality and travel have taken a huge hit, whereas others are thriving right now. As such, you should consider moving cross-market into these industries if it’s possible to do so with minimal changes to your product.

Some industries are being overwhelmed by demand, so it’s smart to prioritize these markets for new customer opportunities if possible. This is especially relevant if your company traditionally targets high-risk markets.

Now is the ideal time to reach out if your product or software could be helpful to businesses that are currently booming. Industries to consider targeting include:

  • Health and wellbeing
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Telecommunication
  • Agriculture
  • Teleconferencing

For a complete list of low-risk industries, download our guide here.

Follow the Supply Chain

It’s worth considering targeting the companies that are selling into these industries. If a SaaS provider is supplying the agricultural market, for example, they are less likely to lay off their workforce or cut their financial projections right now. Follow these supply chains and you’re likely to identify new prospects. In the words of The Wire’s inimitable Lester Freamon: “Follow the money.”

2.  Introduce the “Starting a Dialogue” Sequence

Businesses are operating differently in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, so you will need to adapt your sales process accordingly. We recommend introducing a new type of campaign for outbound lead generation we call “Starting a dialogue”. This sequence has the sole purpose of starting a conversation with prospects, and there are four key stages:

  • Acknowledgment of the crisis, including well-wishes for their team and family
  • Assumptively expecting that now is a bad time for them to chat
  • Agreeing on a better time to speak about the offering you’re working on
  • Sending out a calendar invite if they seem interested in your product

The “Starting a dialogue” sequence should be stacked on top of your usual sales development campaign as part of your complete workflow. After this new dialogue-based campaign has been successfully implemented, your Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) can move forward with more traditional touchpoints. This is where you formally ask for time to demo your offering to see if it adds value to the prospect’s business.

Lead with the Customer

Right now, it is as important as ever to center your communications on your customer’s current pain points. Your sales calls should lead with how things have changed for the customer so you can adapt and personalize your selling process to ensure that it’s well-aligned with their buying process. For example, if they say they can’t make a buying decision until Q3, you can still send monthly content to remain relevant and top of mind in case their situation changes and they can make a buying decision sooner.

This approach should also be applied to existing clients to keep your customer success score high. It’s important to evaluate whether there are other features that you can include in your offering, or if there are thoughtful things you can do for customers to show that you value them. This might be actions such as having the founder hop on client calls or huddles to see how things are going.

3.  Make a New Metric for Your SDRs

Metrics are key to any profitable business, but they need to be relevant to your current situation. Success will look a little different during the COVID-19 crisis, so you’ll need to adapt your metrics to accommodate for this shift.

Setting appointments and demos are what SDRs are usually measured on, but now the new win to evaluate them on is how much positive engagement they’re generating and how many conversations they’re having.

4.  Create Content and Add Value

Your Account Executives (AEs) will have pipelines that they’re expected to eventually close, so it’s critically important to supply them with great content that they can use to add value.

This content might be:

  • Industry benchmarks and insights
  • Assessments
  • Relevant articles and press

You might also want to consider introductions to peer partners who may be particularly well-equipped to help them right now.

The key here is to rally your marketing and sales team to answer the question, “what are some insightful things that that would really add value right now, that I could even charge for as an independent offering?” The aim is to simplify the lives of leads and future customers by educating them on how to handle the current global situation.

Once you have that content, you should be doubling down on it. It can be used by your SDRs, AEs, and customer success teams and can be repurposed many times on different channels and in various campaigns.

5.  Reset Revenue Expectations

Revisit your revenue expectations for Q2 and reduce them to 30% of what you originally anticipated making at the beginning of the year. By planning for the worst-case scenario, you won’t blindside your management and investment team with a burn rate that’s too high compared to the revenue that you bring in.

Final Thoughts

The COVID-19 crisis has given birth to a new way of doing business, and it’s time to rally your sales, marketing, and account executive teams to explore potential new income streams.

By looking at which changes can be made to your business that will have the biggest impact and the shortest time frame, it’s possible to not only survive this unique situation but to thrive in it.

How are you adjusting your business in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis? Let us know in the comments.

Interested in a complete list of recession-resistant industries for your business? We’ll send one over, on us. Contact us here for more.

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