How Enterprise Sales Can Survive and Thrive Without Field Marketing and Other Face-to-Face Efforts
Enterprise sales teams are operating in an unprecedented environment where most of the conventional field marketing, real-world networking and prospecting, and face-to-face sales meetings are currently not possible. Fortunately, there are many ways for sales teams to adapt to the new realities and continue to generate revenue growth opportunities. Beyond the immediate everyday responses of adapting the sales process to remote video conferencing and remote collaboration tools like Zoom or Google Docs, enterprise sales teams need to adopt a few essential shifts in mindset and sales team culture.
Here are a few key strategies to help enterprise sales teams boost sales productivity in the “new normal.”
Serve, Don’t Sell
More than ever, it’s important to approach each customer conversation with a spirit of service and empathy. Listen to your customers. Go into each sales conversation with the expectation that your customer might need different things from you than they might have needed just a few months ago. They might not be ready to talk about how you can help with sales growth, they might not be excited to talk about investing in game-changing technology; instead, they might need to talk more about basic survival, like “How can you help me stay in business? Where are the signs of hope for this industry?”
Keep in mind that your customers are living through a crisis. Even if their job is safe, even if their business and industry are relatively stable, almost everyone is feeling affected by the pandemic and the emotional stress it has brought to people’s everyday lives. This doesn’t mean you have to avoid talking about business, but don’t be afraid to spend some time just talking with customers on a more personal level, ask about how they are coping, be willing to share some of your own vulnerabilities or concerns.
Perhaps more than any other crisis of modern times, this situation is a reminder that we’re all having a shared human experience and we’re all in this together. Even if you’re no longer able to have face-to-face meetings, you can still open your sales conversations with the human element before you get down to business.
Focus on the Big 3
During a strong, booming economy, companies tend to be willing to spend on a wider variety of initiatives and “nice to haves.” But in lean times, companies get laser focused on what I call the “Big 3,” or the three biggest drivers of business value:
- Cost Reduction: How can you help your customer cut costs or manage their cost structure?
- Revenue Generation: How can you help your customer make more sales and drive more top line revenue?
- Risk Reduction: How can you help your customer reduce or manage their financial, reputational, operational or other risks?
All of these Big 3 drivers are top of mind for any B2B enterprise buyers in this climate, more than ever. If your sales team is operating in a leaner than usual environment, where you aren’t doing a lot of field marketing or having in-person sales meetings, it’s more important than ever to make a big impression by showing your customer that you are totally focused on their top of mind concerns. You might need to adapt your sales processes or update your marketing materials to make sure you’re on target with the Big 3.
Bring Data-Driven Insights
In a challenging economic climate, when you might not be able to meet with the customer face-to-face, or when you might not have been able to invest in significant field marketing to build relationships with the customer in advance of the first sales call, it’s more important than ever to make that first sales conversation count. Go into that conversation feeling well informed and ready.
Make sure you understand the customer’s business, and that you are prepared to bring specific data-supported insights to every sales conversation. Dig deeper into researching your customer’s company, industry and competitors, to identify specific insights that are relevant to your customer, such as:
- Publicly reported financial data
- Key industry trends and market analysis
- Recent stories about competitors – who’s showing signs of strength or weakness
- Areas of biggest growth opportunity
- Biggest potential risks on the horizon
Bringing these insights to your customer will help show them that you’re an industry peer and colleague, not just another sales person.
Create More Relevant Sales Communications
Too many enterprise sales people are still going into sales conversations with templated emails and cookie cutter slide decks. Especially in the current climate, it’s essential to make your sales communications more relevant and personalized than ever before.
Especially if you can’t have face-to-face meetings for the foreseeable future, every customer touchpoint has to matter. One of the best ways to adapt to this is to improve the quality of your customer communications: better slide decks, better white papers, and more relevant email messages. Everything has to be personalized and highly focused on your customer’s needs.
Adapting to the new realities of the enterprise sales environment doesn’t mean you have to completely shift your business model, but it does mean that you need to shift your team culture and adjust some priorities of your sales activities. Focus on serving your customers with empathy. Help them hone in on their most important drivers of business value. Bring them value-added insights backed by data. Make every conversation count with more relevant and personalized sales communications. With a few adjustments to your processes, you can keep your pipeline strong and keep building sales momentum, with or without in-person meetings.