How to sell to leads during and after COVID-19

Author: 
RYAN SHAPIRO

Let’s face it: The novel coronavirus upended life in a lot of different ways. Economies nosedived, entire cities shut down overnight and most employees have been forced to work remotely until further notice. But humans adapt quickly. People are already journeying down the road to recovery.

Even still, everything has changed. That’s why you can’t return to business as usual if you’re in B2B sales. Prospects need you to acknowledge their new realities; don’t glaze over the facts. By understanding how your buyers have been affected, you’ll be better positioned to sell in mid- and post-pandemic eras.

Reset your sales approach

Your prospects’ buying patterns and priorities have changed, so previously compelling offers may seem irrelevant and insensitive. All of your potential buyers will be impacted differently, which changes the way your offering can fit into their companies’ frameworks. Now is the time to pivot and express empathy for their situations. Concentrate on building relationships, humanizing your approach and helping consumers through hardships.

This may require more probing than what’s typical for your sales process, but it’s vital to establish rapport. Use sales calls to learn about what their foreseeable futures look like. By taking the time to find out how things changed, you’ll better understand how your product or service aligns with prospects’ needs.

Just don’t become too pushy. It’s difficult for people to make decisions in times of uncertainty. Even when things are definitively bad, the plan of action is clearer. Right now, no one knows how long these circumstances will last. Try to draw certainty into the environment your customer is in by talking through what’s happening and offering applicable solutions.

Remember that people aren’t thinking two or three years down the road anymore. They’re fixated on surviving the next 90 days. As a sales leader, you must remain sensitive to that fact. Every change in your prospects’ behaviors should inform and guide your selling considerations, from their remote communication preferences to the amount they can spend.

Selling to leads

Here are three strategies for remaining relevant and attracting prospects:

1. Magnify your communication efforts. Whatever you’re doing, double the frequency and intensity. Increase prospecting, improve outreach and communicate like never before. Now is the time to do things you wouldn’t normally try.

2. Start by looking at your output. What information are you sending prospects? How often are you reaching out? You want to position yourself as a resource. If you’re worried about overcommunicating, consider making your social media and website one-stop shops for news, updates and tips.

3. Become a connector. By forming a deeper connection with prospective clients, you’ll be able to see how your products or services can benefit them. Find areas to provide extra value by tapping into your personal network. You know people, companies and solutions that your prospects don’t. Even before a company decides to sign with you, offer to make an introduction.

4. Control your sales process. Examine your sales procedures from beginning to end and look for ways to take the initiative. Prospects have enough on their plates right now without needing to schedule follow-ups. Make it easier for them to participate and engage with your company by taking the lead. Inform prospects of next steps, offer dates to follow up, and clarify their buying processes.

By staying on top of things, you’ll put your prospects at ease and give them one less task to worry about. Just make sure you follow through on whatever you promise. Consistency is the key to earning loyalty.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed business, but it hasn’t changed people’s basic needs. Display your empathy, transparency, and confidence, and you’ll see a positive response from prospects.  

Ryan Shapiro is the national director of sales at Sapper Consulting, a provider of B2B lead generation and customer acquisition services.

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How to sell to leads during and after COVID-19