Entrepreneurs in all kinds of industries are still grappling with the repercussions of COVID-19, and although there have been some encouraging signs in recent weeks and months of a possible return to the “New Normal,” we are not yet out of the woods. Many small businesses, startups, and their sales teams have shifted into a short-sighted, short-term panic mode, where they’re throwing away their usual playbooks and sales fundamentals, and instead seem to be thinking that “desperate times call for desperate measures.”
Don’t panic. Don’t despair. Don’t give up on your tried-and-true, time-tested B2B sales fundamentals. If you fall into a mindset of panic and desperation, even during this time of extreme uncertainty, your business might not recover.
Instead of panicking, use the opportunities of this moment to revisit and strengthen the foundations of your business. Here are a few reasons why B2B sales fundamentals are more important than ever.
1. Organized B2B sales processes keep you on track for success
When the economy is good, a lot of companies get complacent and start to get sloppy with how they do business, how they manage clients, and how they organize their sales processes. Many companies don’t have a well-organized sales process or “sales funnel” to help work with clients throughout the B2B sales decision-making process or shepherd the buyer along from one stage of the buying process to the next.
In uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to keep working through your sales process. Stick to the process. Revisit or reimagine your sales funnel if needed; see if you need to adjust your approach or refine your sales pitch along the way. But don’t assume that you can speed up your closing process. Give customers the time that they need to get their questions answered.
Also, be deliberate and proactive about making a specific “ask” of the customer and getting approval at each stage to move forward. If a deal has stalled, make sure you are being clear with the customer about what your expectations are for next steps. Do you need to ask to meet with other stakeholders at the company? Do you need to offer to do an online demo of your product, or run some numbers to provide an updated ROI estimate for how much money your solution could help your buyers to save?
Don’t abandon your sales process, and don’t try to rush it. A good, orderly B2B sales funnel can help guide your sales conversations, clarify your customer expectations along the way, and help you close a higher percentage of deals.
2. Relationship building is more important than ever
One of the biggest fundamentals of sales has not gone away, even in times of crisis: people buy from people. People like to do business with people that they like. Relationships matter more than ever, and it’s especially true today. Budgets are tight and companies are re-evaluating a lot of their spending and scrutinizing every dollar that goes out.
This means that you can’t take any B2B sale for granted. You need to really have trust in the relationship to get the sale. Don’t rush things, don’t put your buyer under excessive pressure; do keep the lines of communication open. Keep talking with your customers. Be real, be helpful, build credibility, keep adding value for them, keep showing how you can help their business survive and prosper in the new environment that we’re all dealing with today.
3. Nurturing your sales leads can keep leads from going cold
Major account B2B sales are often a long-term endeavor from first sales call to deal close. If you’re used to a 6-month sales cycle, you might want to prepare to double that timeframe (or more) in the current environment. Not only because budgets are tight, but quite frankly, many B2B buyers might not be in any position to purchase your solution or services until after a vaccine is available and until more of the economy and everyday life can return to “new normal.”
This means that it’s more important than ever to nurture your long-term B2B sales leads. Customers who aren’t ready to buy today might suddenly have a big burst of pent-up demand by Q1 or Q2 of next year. A lot of companies are hoarding cash right now and just trying to stay afloat until conditions stabilize and they can start making proactive investments again. Try and line up as many deals as possible and keep nurturing your sales leads, even if you know that they probably won’t close for 6-12 months.
You can still make good use of your time by staying in touch with your sales leads—keep talking with them, keep sharing insights with them, keep the conversations going even if you know that they won’t be ready to buy anytime soon. And most importantly, don’t rush things. When you put pressure on a prospect, it damages the trust that you’ve built with them; people are smart, and if they feel like you are only thinking of your sales numbers instead of being empathetic to their situation and looking out for their best interests, you might lose a customer who otherwise would have been happy to close a deal with you just a few months later.
4. Maintaining perspective can help you stay focused
Entrepreneurs are known for their optimism and resilience, even in the face of setbacks. COVID-19 has thrown the world into uncertainty like nothing we’ve seen in our lifetime, but even in a moment of crisis, it’s important to remember that this current situation isn’t going to last forever. Very few businesses are doing better than they were pre-COVID. You and everyone else are feeling this and navigating through it. We are all in this together and doing the best that we can.
Sometimes during a moment of crisis and uncertainty, one of the bravest things any of us can do is to just keep doing our daily work. We don’t have to be afraid, or desperate, or panicky. Anyone who’s in business right now is facing many of the same challenges and most of the fundamental rules have not changed. Keep building relationships and building trust with your customers. Stick to the process. Do the small simple things every day to stay organized and on track. No matter how long it takes for a vaccine and full return to “normal life,” B2B sales fundamentals can help your business succeed.