Like bomb-shelter survivors after a nuclear blast, business owners have emerged into a post-COVID economic landscape that has been utterly changed. For those selling services and solutions to other businesses, the impact is just as severe if not more so than for businesses selling direct to consumers.
With over two decades of sales experience at the frontline in both B2B and B2C, I can say we are officially operating in a tough selling environment.
Projects have been cancelled.
Client budgets are being axed, reduced or put on ice.
If you’re experiencing this with your customers, here are five tactics to help you ride out the storm when selling B2B services in tough times.
1) Map your market to identify opportunities
The legendary ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky nailed it when he said, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”
Strategically analysing your business landscape and moving towards emerging opportunities is a great way to position your business for the upswing.
Picking where your best sales opportunities will be is both an art and a science.
Where is your market right now? Where is your market going to be? In three months? In six months?
Life has changed for your customers, but some things will be the same.
What is constant about your customers, that will help you predict where your market will be?
2) Pivot your pitch
Look deeply at your customer to see whether you need to pivot your sales pitch.
What has changed for them? What new problems are they facing? What are their biggest worries or fears?
The easiest way to grow serious money is to solve serious, urgent problems. Find the customers with an urgent need for your solution – they will be the readiest to buy.
Reframe your pitch so that your services fall into a more urgent category by talking about the pain that you remove for your customer, and how you make their life better.
Communicate with kindness, which has always been a universal currency. If your industry has been badly impacted, focus on relationship-building.
Remember that selling is helping. Build relationship, and at the right moment, be ready to ask you customer if they would like some help.
3) Show your customers the money
If your clients’ wallets are tightening, it’s time to show them the money.
Talk about the return on investment (ROI) that customers can expect from working with you.
How much money, time or frustration will they save or gain in the long-term, by going ahead with you now? What is the cost of them doing nothing? What is the cost of them waiting until later?
Use your sales data to put together some compelling statistics. Case studies and social proof are especially helpful for any hesitant customers.
Demonstrating a tangible ROI will give your customers fresh confidence in your solutions, making it easier for you to sell.
4) Keep up your sales momentum
Are you competitors freezing their sales and marketing budgets? Stay ahead by staying in front of your customers.
You want to come out of this strong. Driving your sales and marketing is like moving a large boulder down the road. Once the boulder is moving, you just need to touch it regularly to keep it rolling.
Completely stopping can make it hard to get things moving again. As the market picks up, you want to be ready to go.
Keep taking consistent sales and marketing actions every day, including a disciplined approach to follow-up. And keep your business at the front of your customers’ minds.
5) Prioritise your sales activities
Time really is money. Especially now. Take the time to prioritise your sales activities, concentrating on those clients who are most likely to spend the largest amounts in the short and medium term.
Your CRM system and social media will show you which customers interact the most with your sales material. Focus in on these customers – they have already demonstrated the greatest level of response to your offer.
Have a different plan for customers who have not yet responded. Provided that they are your ideal type of client, keep following them up but at a slower pace. Set tasks in your CRM to connect with them in 4 to 5 months’ time. Email automation will also help with your follow up.
Is this list overwhelming? You don’t have to do it all at once. Start at the beginning and work your way methodically through.
Taking consistent sales actions every day will build momentum and help you sell your B2B services more easily in tough times.