Sales Recovery: Road Map to Post-Pandemic World
Covid-19 turned up and changed the world in more ways that we could have ever imagined. Young peoples’ education was interrupted, millions of peoples’ health was put in danger; billions of peoples’ mental health was too, the football finished, and the global economy ground to a very slow, very painful halt. It is, by all intents and purposes, a miserable time to live on Planet Earth(sales ).
Small, medium, and large businesses were forced into finding a teetering balance between employee health and staying financially afloat. Marketing teams found themselves scrapping it out on a shrinking stage, sales teams found themselves under immense pressure to close deals and keep the lights on, and support teams found misery in crammed email inboxes and phones ringing off the hook.
But, like anything in life… there is a way out. Like anything in life, it’s nothing that a little hard graft and a big vision can’t fix. This is a journey. You need a solid roadmap that shows you the way out of this mess.
Stop #1: Fine Tuned KPIs and Realigned Goals
This crisis twists and turns like a roller coaster; it’s difficult to predict anything. Alas, sipping bubbly at the 2019 Christmas Party, you probably weren’t imagining a global pandemic stopping your business in its tracks. You know, the party where company leaders proposed a toast to their fine profit margins, burn rates, net dollar retention rate, and customer acquisition costs. One thing is sure, next year’s toast won’t be the same.
The thing we should do at the first sign of a heart attack is check our own pulse. The following KPIs offer a picture of a business’s immediate health, giving a clearer outlook for the immediate future.
- Sales Qualified Leads
The number of prospective customers that have been researched, vetted, and deemed ready for the next stage in the sales process. If this KPI is lower than expected, a business needs to explore new acquisition channels and reshape value propositions.
- Win Rate
The number of leads that move from the ‘interest’ stage to the ‘closed’ stage. If it is low, a business needs to rethink their nurturing process and the sales enablements they employ.
Content engagement metrics are important because they show how your content strategy aligns with user interest. Churn rate needs to decrease, so it’s useful to monitor the activity of users. Setting alerts for accounts with low activity lets businesses identify the difficulties a customer is facing.
Coronavirus has put up new hurdles for both long term and short term success. Long-term is no longer guaranteed. Where you were measuring the success of KPIs once a month before, you should have them analysed more regularly to develop better foresight.
As KPIs change, goals need to change. Trying to score the same, now-unattainable, goals as before would be daft; business suicide. Shared vision is more important than ever. Articulating goals and uniting teams under them provides clarity when everything in the world is so ambiguous.
Employees need leadership. Clear, attainable goals that match KPIs, should be set in bitesize chunks.
Tip. You can’t run a business on a dead planet.
Use this as a window to building a better future for your business. 70% of customers said that sustainability is important for them when buying something. So, implement some non-financial goals into your ambition; living wage, gender balance, and greenhouse gas emissions are all good ones.
Stop #2: A Social Selling Strategy
Social selling is using social media to engage with an audience. Rather than hard-sell cold outreach, social selling is more about a series of soft selling touches, keeping a product or brand in consumer minds all the time. Even before the pandemic, social selling had very much taken off. After the pandemic… well, everybody’s online more as they endure the perpetual barrel roll of lockdown, false dawn, lockdown.
People started using Facebook and Instagram 40% more because of Covid-19. Facebook Live and Instagram Live streams doubled their views within a week.
Social selling builds trust. It’s based on the fact that customers are more likely to buy from a seller that they have an established relationship with, one that stuck with them through bad times and good. Social selling strategies offer followers value and engagement long before closing the deal, through personalised content sharing, social media interactions, and pre-emptive customer support. A post-Covid social selling strategy is especially super-conscious and über-empathetic.
Corona-Case Study. Lin Qingxuan.
A popular Chinese makeup brand, Lin Qingxuan, experienced a 90% drop in their sales over a typically busy Chinese new year period.
To keep the tills ticking over, an army of store workers transformed themselves into influencers overnight by hosting livestream sessions showing off different products. As a result, over 60,000 people tuned into their Valentine’s Day stream, selling 400,000 bottles of Camellia oil in just two hours. One shift by one online influencer brought the same value as that from four in-store advisors, and Lin Qingxuan opened a new frontier in their sales operations.
Stop #3: An Account Based Selling Strategy
Account Based Selling (ABS) provides an uber buyer-centric, hyper-personalised customer experience. Account based sellers treat each individual account as their own market, offering a full arsenal of resources, content, and outreach personalisation that would normally be allocated for a whole segment of buyer profiles. ABS is the ultimate quality over quantity approach to making sales, offering a long lifecycle return to remedy the unpredictable Covid-19 recovery period.
ABS requires a unified approach between sales, marketing, and customer support teams. These teams must get together and draw up a list of high-value accounts who can be targeted. Then, they create multiple touchpoints and precise engagement tactics to meet the customers where they are, pushing the right behavioural buttons based on fully-informed data. Eventually, that customer offers a high return over a long period of time, having built a strong bond with the brand.
ABS is a good approach because it matches recent market shifts to customer-centricity, it accelerates interdepartmental alignments, and it promotes customer loyalty, post-sales business, referrals, and brand evangelism. ABS can be effective in corona times because it only targets the buyers that have the access to capital to buy. Still, it is a high risk, high reward strategy.
Before implementing this strategy, ask the following questions about your own and your customer’s business.
- Are the targeted accounts large enough to provide a worthwhile ROI?
- Are the targeted accounts likely to be affected by future economic instability?
- Do you have the internal resources necessary to target accounts through multiple channels and touchpoints?
- Are the right metrics in place to monitor the success of an ABS campaign?
- Do you have access to the information you need to create personalized strategies for each account you’re targeting? This includes clear evidence that they are ideal for ABS, the information needed to build a detailed profile of the account, and information about and good relationships with key decision makers within the organisation.
Stop #4: The Concern Continuum
Buyer personas have changed. It’s difficult to get your head round at first, seeing as though they’ve stayed the same since you started doing business. Circumstances are different, but different for customers in different ways. Some socially-distant companies might have found a new wind in the quarantine; some might have been brought to the edge.
Dynamic customer segmentation is a technique to help overcome these stark differences in situations. It uses real time data to slice up a customer base and create laser-focussed, personalised lists of customers. These segmented lists can then be used to reach out in a more empathetic, personal, and relevant way. Demographics such as age, geography, and gender have become less relevant in terms of selling. Instead, businesses can implement a concern continuum.
Put the brakes on
|Highly conservative spending behavior; emphasis on lower-cost products and all non-essential purchases have been postponed. Maintain empathetic contact based on business support.|
Rolling in neutral
|Conservative spending behavior; some non-essential purchases allowed. Will showcase brand loyalty if experience remains positive. Empathetic contact and some cross-selling opportunities.|
|Sticking to the speed limit||Spending behavior largely unaffected; luxury items somewhat prohibited. Cross-selling opportunities.|
|Full speed ahead||Spending behavior remains largely unchanged from the pre-crisis state. Cross-selling and upselling opportunities are abundant.|
This is a customer segmentation list that solely relates to how a customer has felt the crisis, and uses data gathered through customer interviews, customer surveys, and account activity to make an educated decision about what’s going on in that particular customer’s world.
Final Destination: Stability
The long and short of it is that businesses need to focus more on customer engagement and retention, less on customer acquisition. Budgets and efforts put into implementing new tools and exploring new avenues can be put to the side, we need to steady our ship by firming up our existing customer base. Get a firmer grip on what existing customers need, and there’ll be plenty of opportunities for new customers in the future.
Now you’ve got the roadmap, the vision and hard graft is up to you.