How to drive demand in a self-isolated economy

We live in strange and challenging times. If you’ve been pinching yourself to make sure you’re not in Matt Damon’s Contagion or a real-life version of the popular board game Pandemic, you’re not alone.

This time last year, everyone was living their best lives, planning for exciting future endeavours. In what feels like a split second, the spread of COVID-19 has halted the economy.

This has thrown marketing plans out the window, put sales targets at risk, and forced organisations to find new ways to drive demand with their buyers.

Faced with this new reality, many of us are seeking ways to make ends meet, trying to keep the business running, all while trying to ensure our loved ones are safe. Above all, we should be taking the necessary precautions to protect our family, friends, colleagues, and community by following the government guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.

Okay, let’s just pause for a moment. We’ll get through this.

The reality is that B2B businesses aren’t closing up shop. Regardless of whether your role is in marketing or sales, there are key forces driving new market dynamics following the COVID-19 outbreak. Success during this challenging time could be contingent upon the following:

  • An aligned go-to-market team
  • Reprioritising and empowering teams to make swift decisions
  • Shifting to digital strategies to help compensate for cancelled in-person events

That said, we’ve identified some key impacts the COVID-19 epidemic may have on go-to-market teams to help identify new ways to help drive demand.

The end of in-person sales meetings (for now)

While the majority of the workforce are practising social distancing, in-person sales meetings are no longer a viable option.

This has created a changing dynamic for sales teams; selling has moved to virtual meetings, phone calls, direct mail and email. While these are all tools that professionals will be familiar with, the coming year will be a test of that expertise.

There are of course key factors to succeeding in today’s market. Firstly, it’s important to stay informed. Things are changing every day, so it’s important to keep up-to-date with news and trigger events surrounding key accounts. From there, your proposition can be tailored to fit with the current context. Knowledge is power; it will make you stand out.

With knowledge, it’s important to also have a reputation with your prospects. There is still an opportunity to build relationships with prospects – and a fundamental factor in sales is that people will buy from people they like.

Social media will be an incredibly important channel. Working remotely involves more breaks, voluntarily and involuntarily. Therefore, more time will be spent on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn at different times. Social selling will be a crucial tool for salespeople as they shift towards digital selling.

Lastly, the priority of prospects will have undoubtedly changed since January. Don’t assume they are still the same; things have changed drastically in the past three months. It’s important to re-diagnose the problems customers are facing in the new world we are now operating in.

Preparing for the e-conference

One of the key practices for social distancing is to limit large public gatherings. This means that trade shows have been postponed or cancelled left, right and centre.

Those shows have typically been a great source of leads for sales and marketing professionals. Therefore, a new dynamic has been created: digital customer engagement strategies are moving to webinars and social.

According to Spiceworks, 10% of paid media budgets are allocated to events. As an example, if you were to spend £50,000 on an event sponsorship with 100 warm leads as the result, it’s £500 per lead.

Yet, you can lower your cost of lead acquisition by shifting to webinars, with the ability to target accounts that match your ideal customer profile. Let’s say you run four webinars in two months with 100 registrations for each. Assuming there is a 50% attendance rate, you will get 200 total leads of which 100 are probably warm.

The lack of events also means that you need to think longer-term. Pipeline-generating webinars need to be booked in over a longer course of time to have the same effect as conferences. Book them in now with the view of securing warm leads throughout the year. Even if those dates need to keep being pushed out, the dialogue with potential leads is always there.

Visual storytelling will be key in these webinars. The wonders of modern technology allows you to present without a stage; it can all be done in the comfort of your own home.

Using visual storytelling can help make your point more impactful and engage your audiences. It can help to show the audience the problem you’re trying to solve and allow you to communicate it in a way not limited to PowerPoint and text.

Afterthought

A lot of these practices aren’t new. They have just shifted from one of the many options to the only option. Simply because you can’t meet your prospects and customers face-to-face, doesn’t mean it should cause any detrimental impact to your marketing plans.

As we get used to the new normal, marketers need to adapt using the tools we have readily available. By adapting your propositions to fit today’s market, B2B marketers can help drive their businesses in these difficult times.

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