Encouraging update: everything indicates that we already have good results with antiviral drugs in the treatment of Covid-19. If this is true, I hope that the cycle of everything I analyze below will be smaller, in intensity and duration, but there is still a warning and guidance on what can be done in the coming weeks.
This article is not intended to explain what COVID-19 is or how it works. Around here, I’m going to assume that you already follow, via LinkedIn, email and communication vehicles, what is happening in Brazil and in the world.
What Capital Smart City want is: to help you adapt your sales process to reduce losses during the chaotic and big change scenario that we are going to experience for a few weeks.
My simplified opinion of the facts
Despite understanding that the mortality rate of the virus is not as high as in other cases, we know that the infection rate is worse than expected.
Many people recover after treatment, but having access to the same treatment is what forces us all to take action to prevent the rapid spread, after all, we need to keep the number of infected people within the capacity of our health system:
For those who follow me, I often quote Nassim Taleb, author of best-selling books such as Black Swan, Antifragile and, more recently, Risking Your Own Skin.
He’s a fervent advocate of overreacting to Covid right now.
And I agree.
In the absence of more data and even more assertive actions, we must reduce risks and I believe that we will need to deal, as sales professionals, with a scenario where governments, companies and individuals take extreme care to avoid a disastrous situation for society as a whole.
As an economics student, I learned to judge rational agents and see the world based on that idea.
I know it is not 100% effective, but in times of crisis like the current one, it is common for the decision curve to become more stable and everyone accepts to sacrifice a little for the health of friends and family.
For all that, I hope that corporate and government actions, combined with our individual responsibility, put us in a relatively stable scenario, but it should last a little longer than we imagined 2 weeks ago.
My expectation is that we will go through a period of at least 60-90 days with various home office companies, office rotation or similar actions.
With this in mind, we need to rethink current sales strategies as much of what is running and working is likely to change during that time as well.
what should change
What Manager of Blue World City will describe below is not an absolute truth, but it is the scenarios I shared with my team and the assumptions under which we are working to adapt our process.
Inevitably, some markets will suffer greatly from widespread quarantine. Event producers, for example, will need to move online, but they tend to have more difficulties.
The general expectation is that we will have a retraction in GDP during this period and it will be normal to see sales drop a little: either because your leads need to wait for this crisis to pass, or because it becomes more difficult for some companies to adapt to an unusual model for them, between others.
So be prepared for a drop in sales, especially if your process stays the same.
Now, for those who are willing and able to adapt, there is an opportunity to be able to increase the number of connections with small changes in the process.
I will not defend sensationalism, much less the use of the crisis as a trigger to be able to sell, to take advantage of it. I’m just talking about a cool reading of the facts and changing your leads’ behavior.
In our scenario here at Reev, for example, we know that some leads will postpone or close only after a few months, after all they have another bigger problem to solve.
On the other hand, we have a large market share that, unlike our own team, is not used to workplace flexibility and does not have the appropriate technological or process infrastructure for it.
These same companies need to sell normally, so they need a short-term solution to adapt to the fact that the entire team must stay home.
And it is for these companies that, in a consultative way, we will try to offer the most assertive solution.
How to do this?
I am considering the following:
1. More people should use email as their central point of contact
WhatsApp, Slack, Skype and other tools are useful for day-to-day contact, but in a scenario where an entire team is remote, you need to apply the principle of communicating excessively, sinning for the excess itself, and ensuring that alignment occurs.
It is normal for managers to resort more and more to email and their teams are more attentive to be able to meet the demands and pass them on there too.
Of course, in urgent matters, the channel doesn’t matter, but the email must gain in relevance and have more engagement from the users.
- More people using email means more volume in everyone’s inbox too. The higher the volume, the higher the filter too, so leads tend to scan better by subject and ignore what they don’t consider relevant or coming from a contact they are familiar with.
- Those who still use automated email (until today… tic tic) should suffer even more in this scenario. Chances of open rates even improve, but connection rates drop dramatically.
it’s time to reformulate your cadences.
- Better space touchpoints by email. Being at home and looking at your email more can mean that your leads will get tired and you will go straight to your spam box after 2 days in a row sending out automated emails.
- Customize your communication: do even more research on the lead and show them that you understand that, even in the current scenario, you can help them. Put an end to automated emails that don’t generate any value and just try to arrange a meeting (there’s still time to not feel so embarrassed)
- Understand the impacts of the crisis on your market. If you only sell for the example I gave earlier, event producers, you should know before contacting what they are going through and if it makes real sense to prospect it now
2. You will have nowhere to call when prospecting
According to the numbers we have, if you depend only on email or just on phone calls, you leave a lot of results aside.
Even with the call working better than the email, we know that the easily accessible (and common sense) numbers for a prospect are the corporate ones.
With no one in the office, how do you call and connect?
Yeah, it’s going to get harder and harder to connect effectively by phone at the top of your funnel.
- If you depend exclusively on this channel and had good results, be prepared to face a very strong tide of negative results and the team complaining that they can’t really connect with any phone leads.
- This is one of the most time-consuming tasks (even when you use a tool like Reev to increase your productivity).
- Calling cell phones is invasive, and amid an expectation of getting health calls from your relatives or someone at your company about something urgent, someone calling trying to sell can sound pretty negative.
- Reduce the number of connection touchpoints in prospecting cadences. Map which company profiles are working remotely and drive to a cadence with more spaced email touchpoints and also touches via LinkedIn or WhatsApp.
- Take the opportunity to test other channels that you don’t use as much or don’t convert so well historically. We are in an unusual setting, so think outside the box and be open to new ideas.
3. LinkedIn and other prospecting channels must grow in importance
Many companies do not allow access to social media (even LinkedIn) within the corporate network, and for companies where teleworking is common, we see employees have a more flexible schedule.
That’s why LinkedIn should gain in engagement throughout the day (and not just during peak hours that exist today).
Another important factor is how much people should try to update themselves with new information and content during this period.
In addition to being a poorly used channel here in Brazil, almost like a corporate Instagram, it’s still a powerful tool to initially connect with leads.
For those who have breath, a team that justifies the investment and ICP aligned with the platform’s search model, it’s worth investing in Sales Navigator.
4. Follow ups will be, more than ever, the difference between those who hit a goal and those who get frustrated and blame the crisis
We are going to see a lot of deals and deals falling over these first few weeks. Many companies will be in the adaptation phase and still blind about the size of the problem we are in.
It is common that, in uncertain scenarios, decisions and hiring are postponed.
With 15-20 days we must resume many processes that were stuck, so if you took a no-show, had an important meeting canceled in advance, or a contract sent that was lost at the last minute: realign the deadline, but be prepared for no one to know when everything will return to normal.
My direction for my own team is: to understand if the lead market will be affected or not and, if not, to help you see the opportunities and show how Reev can help, even if remotely:
- In managing teams;
- In performing tasks;
- With a VoIP linked to the browser and can be used from any computer;
- With a consultancy for your team, anywhere in Brazil or in the world;
- Direction for adaptations and taking advantage of opportunities during the crisis;
- Building a long-term process.
If we see that these solutions are in line with a lead’s need, we will look for them again in April or May and understand if they can focus on the problem that was diagnosed and build a long-term project to have more sales results.
Adapting to the crisis scenario is up to our team, but taking into account what the client needs.
- Mistaking your hand and talking to companies that do not have a real fit at this time can destroy a relationship that would be recoverable in the second half of the year, if you take care of this and define the markets that are really within the scope of action for the team
- Many sellers will see their pipeline dry in March. Those who manage to keep it healthier, ensure a recovery of leads after this initial impact, should see a stronger result in the medium term and ensure greater peace of mind and predictability, even in the midst of the crisis
5. Communicate a lot with the team. formalize what you can
Here at Reev, we use Tetra as a tool to form an internal wiki, where the entire team has access to everything, plus a history of what happened and space to leave questions and comments.
All great communication, direction and material for our sales or service playbook goes there.
The team needs to be aware of the company’s movements.
Want an example? We’ve made an early announcement to the team about what I’m covering here in this article.
There is an article in our Tetra summarizing these points.
Soon after, we made a statement to our customer base, explaining how we can support them during this transition and facilitating the transition for those who did not have VoIP, but needed to leave the team at home, without a corporate phone and cell phone.
Again, this communication is in our Tettra.
Analyze carefully what to do.
What markets can they buy.
Which leads can be retrieved.
How to prospect and build your streams.
And formalize it.
On our side, the Sales Development and Sales team has new cadences ready and being tested on Reev. Communication is being revamped and tested all the time, but when it gets right, just replicate and duplicate the email templates, In Mail (LinkedIn), WhatsApp and even good practices for calls.
Having a tool that brings together the entire blueprint of the commercial process makes it easier, especially when we are not side by side for our managers: Júlia, Chris and Luiz, to keep up with the team’s pace.
Fortunately, 99% of our business process is in one place and can be changed and redistributed with a few clicks.
Is that you? Are you ready for this challenge?