Things have changed. If your tried and true motions were to engage customers via events, in-person meetings and over soup to nuts meals or on the course, you likely no longer have your most reliable tools at your disposal. Now, more than ever, the focus should be on engaging customers digitally, in new ways, and provide even more value to prospects. Buyers no longer simply want your help; they need it to survive. And your sales team needs a sales enablement playbook to get connect with your buyers, without overwhelming or frustrating them.
If you’re in marketing or sales enablement, your job is to equip your newfound inside sales team to do all of this and do it well. But there’s a caveat to keep in mind: You won’t be able to teach these old dogs a ton of new tricks (and quickly), so focus on the one or two things you want them to embrace immediately in order to become effective in this new environment.
The biggest catalysts for success right now revolve around arming teams with strong playbooks and the tools to execute them. To that end, here are the key areas that deserve your attention.
Embrace Sales Playbooks
Many traditional sales folks are used to doing business over a cup of coffee and sealing it with a handshake. Since those options now illicit horror on the faces of prospects, you must transition sellers to understand their buyer through a digital lens. They’ll need to reformulate their strategy and get familiar using technologies.
Now, more than ever, your sales team will need to be self-sufficient – which means you’ll need to make that easy for them. First, make sure you have an actionable sales playbook that your sales ops team can quickly enable. If you don’t have one, create it immediately. (If you’re looking for insight into exactly what that means, Caleb Trecek on our team does a good job in this blog)
Creating Digital Trust
Think through how you can supplement the trust traditionally fostered by face-to-face meetings by translating that buying process to a digital one. For example, creating a customized, relevant, and value forward sales offer, delivered via physical mailer can be a great way to get the attention of a buyer. Up the ante and use a tool like Alyce, which allows recipients to pick their own gift. That preference information is then fed back into your CRM, so you learn something about who they are as a person and how they buy through the process, too. Marketing and sales alike can leverage these insights in later messaging and offers. Ultimately, you’re tapping into the mind of the buyer without ever seeing the whites of their eyes.
Of course, video also helps to both simulate face-to-face meetings as well as create a feeling of personalization. Create video content that your sales team can personalize and share with buyers. Make sure they know how to consume the metrics around this, too. For video, Vidyard is really the best of breed.
Whichever method you choose (and the answer always lies in multi-channel), your goal is to translate your buyer knowledge into personalization that catches their eye and creates engagement.
Understand Your Buyer’s Current Reality
Not as many buyers are proactively searching for solutions as they were in February. McKinsey found 51% of companies have reduced spend. Our recent research shows that 53% of B2B buyers are still looking for products and services to solve problems. Get the full research here. That means the other 47% are not in the market for a purchase.
Regardless of which 50-ish percent your buyer falls into, all B2B buyers face the need to assess and focus on top priorities that will keep them in business and give them a shot at meeting revenue goals. Your job is to become that priority.
Is Your Target Account List Still Valid?
With this in mind, revisit your target account lists. Don’t chase down the customers who simply won’t or can’t buy in the current environment. Refocus ICP and buyer entry points and get even more targeted with those who have problems your solution is great at solving. Again, about half the buyers in our survey are not only unable to make purchases, they aren’t even considering solutions right now.
What’s Your Unique Value Proposition?
Then consider how to best frame that value proposition. What does your company have that can be life altering for buyers? Which challenge do they face that your solution solves? What typical friction points can you remove from the buying process? Message for those things in a direct way. One of our survey respondents said it best with:
My company needs sales just as much as your company needs sales; how can what you’re selling help both of us meet that outcome?
- Anonymous B2B Buyer Response to B2B Buying Sentiment Survey, Apr. 2020
Since the buying cycle is shortened now, it’s imperative you articulate how you can bring the most value as fast as possible – and most importantly that you are invested in the buyer’s success.
Assess the Customer Journey
The buying cycle has changed right along with many of your buyers. As recently as a month ago, your solution being “better” than the competitor’s may have won your business. But now? “Better” alone isn’t closing deals – you have to be mission critical. If you notice a lot of buying decision being pushed out, don’t just settle for being ‘ghosted’. The best bet in this situation is to figure out how you can arm the buyer with tools and education they can use, even prior to purchasing your product. We’re seeing a lot of success with tools that are typically introduced in the customer success cycle being leveraged as first or second touch content. If you can transition from “sales” to an enabler of their success, you’ll keep your own sales cycle alive.
For example, let’s say your product is marketing automation and wanted your customer to switch from Pardot to Marketo. If they already have Pardot right now, they may not be in a position to rip it out, simply from a focus perspective. So, instead, empower them to have better use of the product they currently have through best practices and job aides, while also identifying gaps that your product can solve. This way, you help them become more effective today and also begin to see you as a consultative expert. This not only helps them but should also keep your helpful brand top of mind when they come out the other side of the tunnel.
Check Your Tech
Your sales playbook is only as good as its actionable guidance and the technology that fuels it. You should facilitate your playbook via a solution that’s intuitive for your sales team to use and doesn’t require extra enablement or extensive training. For example, Engagio and 6Sense are both solutions that help you orchestrate ABM and uncover buying centers – folks that are in the buying cycle you’re not aware of (affectionately called the ‘dark funnel’).
These tools assemble intent data, like how customers are searching, what content they’re consuming, and then allow you to initiate the right sales play to ultimately engage them. From there, you can easily see that engagement and suddenly the dark funnel has become anything but.
Your goal should be to assemble as much data about each person and their buying committee as possible and leverage your tech stack to create a conversation. Use data enrichment and monitoring solutions that are critical for sellers like LinkedIn Sales Navigator and even Google Alerts. Understand content consumption with Engagio or 6Sense and close the loop between your systems so they all work together to facilitate your outbound messaging.
You can facilitate your sales team’s messaging and outbound cadences with tools like Salesloft or Outreach. Remind your salespeople that buyer responsiveness may not be what they’re used to, so introducing some degree of automation will help scale efforts and get them in front of more people without sacrificing personalization.
A Deeper Dive in the Technology Landscape
Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll continue to dive deeper into all the technology you need to consider to enable your inside sales teams. Here is an overview of what we’ll cover
Align Internally Around Content, Metrics and Optics
Sales and marketing should always work hand-in-hand, but alignment is more crucial than ever. Sales teams need to work with marketing to locate the right insights, messaging and content to address buyer needs. Or, if they don’t have it, they must rapidly iterate to create them.
For example, think about Zoom. A month ago, organizations that needed Zoom already had it or a competitive solution. But fast-forward to fully virtual workforces as a result of COVID-19 and now a whole new group of businesses and users need web conferencing to stay connected. Zoom is filling a critical need in the education space, which is typically offline, but they may not have the relevant content to address these new needs. A close relationship between marketing and sales allows for near real-time feedback informing content that speaks to the current state of affairs, needs and issues that didn’t exist less than two months prior.
In addition to aligning around content, make sure your entire team knows what’s resonating with customers by leveraging consumption and conversion metrics. Tools like content performance dashboards can serve as critical context, allowing sellers to understand who’s responding to which messages. If a certain message isn’t working, collaborate to shift it to foster better results. Agility is not an option when the buying climate is changing daily.
The sales profession has changed drastically in just a few weeks, along with our buyers’ daily lives, concerns, behaviors and needs. In order to keep bookings and revenues flowing, or at the very least maintain buyer relationships until things stabilize, you have to arm your sales team to not only operate, but thrive, in the ‘new normal.’
Meet Justin Gray
Justin is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of LeadMD, the world’s largest revenue operations agency having implemented over half of the Marketo user base. Justin has made a career of launching successful companies and scaling them, with successful exits of over 200MM+ in the last decade. Justin’s latest endeavor launched in 2016 when he co-founded Six Bricks an online learning startup designed to combat employee and customer churn through experience-based education. Over the past 10 years, Justin has emerged as a strong voice for entrepreneurship, marketing and culture. As a recognized speaker, Justin has been published over 350 times in industry publications and holds his own column, Tribal Knowledge in Inc., while writing for Entrepreneur, Tech Crunch and others. Justin and his wife Jennifer met over marketing and three years later welcomed their son, Grayson, into the world in April of 2017.