Faced with the uncertainty and the adaptations demanded by the health crisis, business leaders are under an enormous burden both to ensure the protection of their employees and to manage business continuity, including cash flow.
Without a doubt, the speed of business leaders and leaders to act during the crisis will have a direct impact on the severity of the aftermath of the crisis for the company, but also the length of time the company will live with the consequences.
In the last few years, we have talked and heard a lot about disruption on a digital level, but the current situation is a disruption which affects absolutely all companies without distinction and affects them deeply in their very model . Moreover, certain fields of activity, such as the travel, entertainment, hotel and restaurant industries are unfortunately hit with devastating intensity and find themselves without any real possibility of influencing their level of activity. .
However, the majority of B2B companies have much more leeway to deal with the crisis. I’ll share some answers with you.
1. Continue to invest in marketing and sales
Often when the economy contracts, many companies have the instinct to cut investments in marketing and sales. However, in the last crises, the companies which had this reflex of withdrawal fared less well than the companies which maintained their investments to increase their visibility and their sales activities .
Moreover, today, companies that are already well advanced in their digital marketing, inbound marketing, lead generation and social selling practices have assets that they must continue to support . For others, it’s time to get started.
Now is a great time to launch initiatives to help your community through:
- Informative videos that show how your products, services or solutions can help
- Webinars to share your expertise
- Blog articles and guides
If you are already experiencing a slowdown in your activities or even think you will be affected in the short to medium term, you need to limit the damage, but also prepare to bounce back very quickly. This is why your sales and marketing departments must benefit from substantial budgets now.
2. Focus on the right sellers
Every day, I talk to clients who tell me “We can no longer make customer visits” or “We have withdrawn all our teams of field representatives, nothing is happening”.
Naturally, the role of salespeople will be even more critical than ever in the coming weeks and months. More than ever, your reps with the strongest sales skills and sales DNA are the ones who will help the business generate opportunity.
When it is easy and the economy is doing well, it is possible not to see the skills gaps or the weaknesses in the DNA of the representatives , on the other hand, in times of crisis, these elements will emerge very markedly. . Some representatives have what is called an intangible in that they are able to offer a high level of availability and presence to their clients. This makes it possible to sell despite skills gaps.
The role of representatives is to overcome the obstacles to sell:
- Little known brand
- High competition
- Different forms of resistance from customers and prospects
- Price of your products, services or solutions
- Technological complexity
It requires a high level of sales skills and the DNA that supports them.
Selling has become more difficult, but not impossible. Your salespeople need to be creative, but also have unconditional commitment and desire , even under the current circumstances.
3. Maintain your supply chain
You may be having difficulty obtaining supplies. For some companies, the supply chain is cut off because a lot of products are coming from China. However, China is starting to restart and shipments will resume at a more sustained pace.
For imports from the United States, the border remains open.
What is essential is to continue to place orders to supply you and be ready to use your products for your production or for distribution . You cannot afford to add extra delays due to transportation time when your activities are about to resume a brisk pace.
Even if you think you may not be able to meet demand within the usual time frame, sales teams still have to keep filling the order book and selling to keep inventory running.
There is also an opportunity for Canadian manufacturing companies that sell the same products as those made in Asia, for example, but sell them at a higher price. For these companies there is an opportunity as they can supply local customers faster who cannot wait for deliveries from China. Under the circumstances, every business seeks to maintain sales. Even though for a short time the cost of sourcing some of the materials may be higher, there is still an advantage in not simply losing sales . In this context, it is therefore possible to acquire new customers or to sell more to certain customers.
4. Occupy the virtual sales area
Under no circumstances should your team’s sales activities cease. Several years ago, we began to see a migration phenomenon of part of external sales to internal and today all sales activities must follow this model . Participate with your team in the special webinar How to sell effectively remotely in the B2B field to help you in this approach.
Several things can currently happen in sales:
- Meetings with clients and prospects may be canceled or postponed
- Some opportunities may take longer to close
- Some customers may be late paying your bills
For an adequate response to the context, the sales priorities should be:
- Communicate proactively with prospects and customers with whom meetings are scheduled in order to meet virtually. See the article Sales Teams: How to Adapt Quickly to the Crisis for more information on how to be effective.
- Continue to obtain decisions from clients and prospects as a result of submissions that have been made.
- Prospect to generate opportunities with new potential customers. The use of LinkedIn is on the rise and generally speaking, the community spirit that exists on the platform is helping many leaders and professionals in this unprecedented period.
If your sales cycle is 3 months, it is imperative that your sales teams work now on opportunities that will close in 2, 3 or 4 months. Otherwise, you are going to hit a very sharp drop in sales even though the economy might have accelerated again.
When the crisis is over and sales pick up, where will you be positioned?
Take advantage of this timing to get ahead of your competition. If your competitors are absent, waiting for things to pass, or making bad decisions, your right approach to the crisis will have exponential effects.
The current crisis will generate a lot of questions for companies. Not only do you secure your short term sales for cash flow management issues, but also make sure you are doing everything in your power to gain long term customers.