The Handshake is Gone: How to Drive Demand Digitally Amid Social Distancing
By Michael Bird, President, Sales & Marketing Solutions at Dun & Bradstreet
The unprecedented spread of the COVID-19 virus has changed the way we live and work, possibly forever and certainly for the foreseeable future. Overnight, marketing and sales professionals went from operating in the warmth of the longest bull market in history to trying to figure out which customers were open for business and how to drive pipeline, all while trying to ensure the health, safety and well-being of their loved ones(Demand).
Luckily, B2B marketing and sales people are resourceful by nature, and in the last few months I’ve personally seen them make a number of pivots with the intention of first regaining balance and then thoughtfully moving into an offensive mindset to drive demand during these unsettling times.
Here are five ways marketers can shift their day-to-day activities to continue to drive demand during- and beyond- the pandemic.
The new “in-person” meeting
Everyone knows that usage of video conferencing software like Zoom is through the roof. But are your teams building true rapport on those platforms? Prepare for virtual meetings the same way you would prepare for in-person meetings, making use of every second for everyone involved.
Social selling went from nice-to-have to need-to-have in a matter of days. Buyers are more focused on getting important information from platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn while they work remotely. Have you shifted your organic and paid social strategies in light of how people are spending their days and what they need in this environment?
And those perks you used to use in-person? Who’s to say you can’t make the same magic happen remotely? It might be time for your teams to consider sending out a make-your-own-cocktail kit to key prospects ahead of webinars or other convening events.
Compensating for cancelled events
Despite large trade shows and conferences being cancelled, there is still an opportunity to maintain leads by shifting to webinars and using visual storytelling to stand out among the crowd.
Webinars, emails, website content and digital advertising are not new, but they are now the only ways to communicate to audiences who are working remotely. Now more than ever, marketing can bring momentum to businesses working to survive the impending downturn.
The normal office schedule is history
With many organizations requiring employees to work from home, there is an entirely new work-life dynamic. People are now surrounded by kids, pets, social media, and they’re getting their work done when they can – not when they used to. Have you considered adjusting when your campaigns are actually live? In this environment, minutes matter.
It takes an average of 8 touches to get a meeting, according to RAIN Group. Amid the pandemic and shifting priorities for many organizations, we expect this number to increase. Sellers will need to understand how their buyers are impacted, empathize with them, and advise them on pivoting their go-to-market activities.
Doing more with less
Almost all companies are trying to do more with less, meaning many are turning to account-based marketing (ABM) strategies to more effectively target in-market buyers and more wisely utilize those precious marketing resources.
With most companies having to work with tightened spend, sales and marketing teams have finally been forced to more closely align, working together to identify accounts that are a best fit and shepherding those accounts through the funnel together. Teams have also begun to supplement fit and intent data with a new factor: risk. In this time of uncertainty, it has become increasingly important to be looking at the risk in your pipeline. By understanding which accounts are being impacted by the crisis, you can shift marketing dollars and approaches appropriately.
I’m amazed daily at how marketers have pivoted during this ever-changing situation. It just proves that there are ways to stay relevant and valuable amid the COVID-19 crisis and beyond, to whatever the world may throw at us (murder hornets, anyone?). While we are separated by physical distance, we can still be getting to know our customers through their digital footprints and using that information to drive demand and keep our pipelines full, even in the midst of an uncertain landscape.