The Coronavirus Changes Our Perspective on Sales and Marketing

A global pandemic just shut down the world…and reordered it. A pandemic that puts a thin line between life and death before our eyes has changed the way many of us look at our line of work.  
Until this change, there has been a healthy long-term battle between marketing and sales. Marketing has been saddled with delivering leads to sales. Sales has perennially complained that the leads were inferior, while marketing complained that the salespeople were inferior at closing leads.
But, with the world fighting a common enemy, it is COVID-19 that changes perspectives.
In marketing and sales, the perspectives have shifted from performance to survival. Most businesses, having the rug pulled out from them, are trying to live another day. Helping companies survive seems to be a new mission in marketing and sales, but it has always been our common goal.

Questions That Matter

In this unprecedented time, sales and marketing teams are asking the following pointed questions:

  1. How can we turn around our negatively impacted deal flow?
  2. How can we be effective working remotely to generate business?
  3. How do we retain existing customers?

The fact is that now is the time when sales and marketing does make a difference. We are suddenly in an environment where no one will buy unless someone helps them realize something could actually help them out of a tough situation and point them toward a better reality.

It is times like this that have coined phrases like, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” attributed to Joseph P. Kennedy, the father of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

Sales teams will not only need to get tough, but get smart. They will want to use tools that help them manage a large number of simultaneous efforts that yield a single positive result. And they will want to find the way to repeat that over and over. In essence, there will be a tight collaboration between marketing and sales as each company finds its unique winning formula to drive and repeat sales success, like a mantra.

Survival of the Fittest

Moving forward, sales success equates to survival. As a result, sales and marketing teams need to rephrase the questions they are asking to the following:

  • How can we better understand the companies that need our solution/product and how do we find them?
  • How can we be even more effective working remotely to generate business – and will we create new ways to connect with each other and customers and prospects?
  • How do we assure existing customers thrive?

It is a change in perspective. And in that change in perspective the battle between marketing and sales must finally end.

Companies must find an inextricable link and harmony between marketing and sales. In lead generation, marketing must truly dig deeper to understand the exact target companies that need their solution. Marketing must also create a continuous learning system to unearth those perfect prospects.  
But, even with a perfect prospect, cash has become a precious commodity. Sales must convince each prospect that their product or service does solve an acute problem. For sales to provide that guidance, salespeople must dig deeper than ever to truly understand a prospect’s issue. Without understanding and then guidance from sales, the prospect will not release their cash – and the prospect will be poorer, not richer for it. Sales, in the end, matches a product or service that enriches the buyer.

For existing customers, and churned customers, marketing can deepen relationships by providing market insights, how to solve specific problems in the current environment, or how the customer can extract more value from the product or service. Marketing delivers timely, pertinent help and information ongoing. In essence, marketing is always helping customers until the time is right to buy again.    
COVID-19 may be the current catalyst that has changed the perspective on sales and marketing, but we have been here before with 9/11, SARS, and the economic downturn of 2008. In each case, sales has helped companies find the solution to success by finding the right product or solution for the customer in a time of need.  

So while our perspective has changed, sales and marketing should not switch back to two camps of complacency, but to two functions working in perfect harmony.

Janis Rozenblats is vice president of product at Pipedrive, a cloud-based sales CRM company.


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