Ideas to connect with your clients while remaining socially distant.
On January 20th, 2020 a man in Washington State became the first known COVID-19 case in the United States and what has taken place since then is nothing short of a cultural earthquake.
Here we are 10 months later and I think we can all agree the landscape of our world has shifted and been altered forever.
One of the challenges in navigating life after a major cultural earthquake is that the roadmaps we have known and used for years are no longer helpful. Theoretical roads and highways have shifted and the traditional means of accomplishing the simple task are no longer plausible.
Comically we saw this early into COVID-19 with a shortage of toilet paper, no longer could you run to the store for some TP if you ran out. Families were having to create strategic plans for how they were going to get enough TP for the week.
On a larger scale, and much longer-lasting, are the landscapes of consumerism, organizational needs, and B2B sales.
While there is no doubt that all of these still exist and are intertwined, their operational landscape has shifted. Do B2B sales have a place in this new landscape?
Absolutely, but the method at which they are done has to shift in response to the new landscape.
How do we move forward?
- Survey the Landscape: Before we can plan a trip to this new landscape, we have to understand the ground we will be traversing. The type of vehicle we will need is defined by the type of land we are covering. Where a sports car may have worked previously, now we may need a 4-wheel drive vehicle or even a boat. If we don’t take time to survey the landscape, we will only find ourselves ill-prepared, frustrated, and stuck.
- Check the Compass: Even in the aftermath of an earthquake, a compass points to at least 4 constants (North, South, East, and West). Just because our culture has shifted, does not mean there are constants that still remain intact. In looking at our compass and defining the constants we know to be true, we can start to make educated decisions about plotting a course forward.
- Set the Direction Forward: Based on our understanding of the landscape and using the constants we have established using a compass, it is now time to move forward. It will be uncomfortable at first, but staying where we are and not moving forward is not an option. We are living in a new reality, the only way to be productive is to acknowledge it and strategically move forward.
What does this mean for B2B Sales?
- The Landscape: In an attempt to define this new landscape, Mckinsey and Company surveyed 3,600 decision-makers in 11 different countries. They reported their findings in “How B2B sales have changed during COVID-19” and the headline of the reports reads “New digital behaviors are becoming the next normal.” and then in large bold letters, “The pivot: Accelerated migration to remote and digital.” The report goes on to state customers prefer digital interactions over traditional in-person interactions 2:1 in the US and 3:1 in Spain and the UK. In fact, there is a 2x “increased likelihood of companies that provide outstanding digital experiences being chosen as the primary supplier.” Bottom line is that we currently live in a digital world and 79% of B2B companies don’t see this shifting for 12+ months post-COVID-19.
- The Compass: What do we know to be true?
- Every organization has a need that can be met by another organization. The fact that B2B sales existed prior to COVID-19 shows this was a true pre-earthquake. While the landscape of how organizations operate may have changed, this truth remains the same.
- B2B sales executives play a critical role in helping organizations solve problems they may not have known they had, operate more effectively, and save money.
- Relationships are king. The best B2B salespeople are the ones that know their customers and treat them as more than a number. Successful sales executives know their customer’s birthdays and anniversaries, they know the milestones of their children, and they know the rhythm of their customers’ business. Why? Because establishing relational capital is key in building trust, making the sale, and keeping the client. After all, no one likes a break-up.
- The Direction Forward: Based on the landscape we find ourselves in and the compass we are using, the path forward must include a digital strategy for engaging decision-makers and building relationships. What does that look like?
- Digital Lunch Meeting: Have lunch delivered to your clients and eat with them while asking about how things are going and what you can do to make their lives easier.
- Amazon Gift Cards: In general, times are hard and people are stressed. The gift of an Amazon gift card allows for a customer or client to treat themself to something they may not have purchased on their own.
- Hand Written Notes Checking In: Everyone likes to get mail, your customers and clients are no different.
- Digital (online) Events: Partnering with LetsVidya will allow you to offer high-level social events with your clients (new and old) in a virtual format. From Mixology Class Happy Hours to Pub Trivia, LetsVidya has events that allow you to spend time with clients, have an incredible/fun shared experience, and network them with other customers.
Do you have to respond to the earthquake that has taken place? No, but I promise you that others are responding and your clients will notice. Make a decision today to plot a new course forward in response to the landscape you find yourself in and the compass you are using.