Recently I read a poem describing our new normal with powerful words: Suddenly Disney is out of magic, Paris is no longer romantic, New York does not stand up anymore, The Chinese wall is no longer a fortress, and Mecca is empty. Yes, COVID-19 affects everyone, you, me and also B2B buyers. What do they do in a working-from-home lockdown situation?
B2B buyers may not be buying right now. But they are researching online. A recent study by eMarketer found that roughly 33% of B2B buyers are looking for more quality and accurate information about what they could buy, while 23% of respondents noted they need to have more confidence in the purchases they would make. Translated, B2B buyers say: “Please salespeople, if you call me, share relevant insights that would help me with my confidence in making decisions. Tell me something I don’t know, is relevant to my challenges and helps me to see a different perspective on my situation”.
It’s time to call your prospects with exactly what they need and don’t waste their time. Your opening is important; your reason for calling is not to ask if everything is ok. Or, “I thought I give you a call because it has been 3 months since we caught up”. As one of our sales managers, who is on calls with his team every day, said to me: “During this time it is key to be relevant, show empathy and share insights. That is exactly what makes prospects listen to what you have to say”.
Be relevant. This is not the right time to push your solutions right out of the starting blocks. Prospects will switch off immediately. They have heard these before, also from your competitor sales reps. B2B buyers want to talk to people who are aware of what’s going on in their business world. This is crucial in the new way of selling. You got to be able to teleport yourself into the customer’s situation. What are they trying to achieve? COVID-19 is impacting economies, supply chains and ways to do business. If you don’t know yet how these things are impacting their business then the best way to figure that out is to ask. What has changed in their business? What are their new challenges? Has the new normal affected their response time? Are the goods for their production lines still arriving as they should? Is their competitiveness impacted? How do the next six to twelve months look like? What about their customer loyalty? If companies cannot deliver their customer’s promise, consumers will just go somewhere else where they can get what they need. They will order direct and most likely online.
Empathy. Before you share your insights and your ideas about how you can help them with their challenges, you need to show them that you care. With care comes trust. One great way of doing that is letting them know they are not on their own here. You have spoken to other companies in similar industries that were in a similar situation. They are keen to hear your stories. Although your prospect knows more about their business than you do, you know more where their business connects with yours. They would like to hear how you have helped other similar companies. Of course, while protecting their confidentiality.
Insights. What can be insightful during this time? Listen to your prospect’s challenges and have an opinion about how you can help. Do not jump into solutions. Look back at what you have seen other customers do to address similar challenges and how you have helped them. Before you realize it, you find insights in your own backyard. Focus on where your prospect’s challenge intersects with your own knowledge about your business. Especially business owners are keen to understand the risks to their business and their strategic plans. Do not hesitate to share the implications to their business the way you see it. Is their growth at risk? Is their competitiveness at risk? How can you help them save costs? What is the impact of not changing?
Make use of B2B buyers spending their time researching, learning, exploring and preparing for after COVID-19. Everything is changing so fast and they want to keep up. They want to know your opinion and available options. Make sure you don’t waste their time.
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