As businesses grapple with the effects of COVID-19, it’s evident that the pandemic will change B2B activities forever. In fact, 97% of B2B businesses in the UK have shifted their go-to-market (GTM) strategy during this crisis.
Even though the full implications of the pandemic are still unclear, savvy B2B sales leaders and marketers are rethinking their methodologies and online sales processes to adapt to the “new normal.” Online selling is hitting record highs, and B2B sales operations are already looking different from what they were pre-pandemic.
With the COVID-19 social distancing rules, face-to-face-interactions have been replaced with online meetings, and this has impacted the conventional sales processes. Consequently, forcing businesses to adopt new ways of growing long-term connections, including:
- Building quality online relationships,
- Offering a seamless experience to clients
- Ensuring business agility
These are some of the proven strategies we’re using here at Gripped. This article is about helping you leverage this change to your advantage.
Let’s get started!
Building online relationships
Retaining and growing your customer base is essential for post-pandemic recovery and stability. As such, you need to focus on engaging and deepening online relationships through digital-first channels and strategies. Like most relationships, B2B relationships also require a lot of communication and patience. The quality of such relationships hinges on several attributes, including integrity, authenticity, transparency, and trust. Here are five things you need to do:
1. Develop your personas
Creating B2B personas helps you understand your potential clients better. This allows you to create tailored communications and more customised offerings for them. You need to know the job, demographics, and “firmographics” of your customers.
It’s also vital to understand their goals, pain points, barriers, success factors, preferences, and motivation. Compile and sort this data to create personas that represent your ideal customer. HubSpot’s Make My Persona tool is quite handy in helping you with this.
2. Create compelling content
Customers usually have unique needs, even if they buy the same product. Therefore, understanding their needs and preferences is key to creating content that delivers value — use your personas to do just that. It also helps you to tell stories that resonate with your audience and provide solutions to their problems. You should go beyond blogging and also offer newsletters, infographics, whitepapers, and webinars to deliver informative, educative, and insightful content.
Synk Content – Webinars
3. Personalise your interactions
You can personalise your interactions and communications by segment, persona, or stage. This allows you to make your customers feel special and appreciated. For example, when personalising by segment, consider the job title, job department, location, and industry of your customers.
It’s also advisable to map your customer’s journey to create relevant content for each stage of the journey. This will provide much-needed clarity in their buying cycle, thus improving your conversion rate. Personalised experiences provide tailored and targeted messaging that’s compelling to customers.
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4. Repurpose your content
Whilst continually creating and publishing new content is advisable, you can still repurpose your old content assets to capitalise on their maximum value. You simply need to identify your top-performing content assets and use them to create fresh content for your other marketing channels, such as social media pages and newsletters.
A good example is turning your long-form posts into an eBook, a whitepaper, or a SlideShare presentation. Another way is to combine several pieces into a more extensive asset for your resource section. Statistics can also make great social media posts, whilst interviews can be turned into an expert advice manual.
Zuora Content – eBooks
5. Leverage social media
Social media allows you to build a stellar reputation by earning the trust of your potential customers. This lets you develop meaningful connections and relationships without intermediaries, such as traditional media and editors.
You can engage your audience through product videos, blog content, and Q&A sessions. Using social media ads is also effective in widening your coverage and delivering targeted messaging. When used effectively, social media can help you attract leads at scale once you have a strong brand.
Condeco Social Media – Linkedin
Bear in mind that these strategies are not one-time investments. They’re basically ways of investing resources across the lifecycle of your customers. As a result, this allows you to build credibility and trust that earn you not just loyal customers, but brand advocates.
When effectively implemented, these strategies can reduce your reliance on traditional relationship channels, which the pandemic has significantly impacted. In the long run, you’ll be able to facilitate better-targeted customer engagement and digital-relationship building.
Making it easy to buy
Removing complexities that precede a purchase is vital to simplifying the buying process for your B2B customers. This is what offering a “frictionless” experience is all about. You need to learn the challenges B2B buyers face and prescribe a simplified path for them moving forward.
A good overarching framework you can employ in your online sales process is Code Marketing.
Code Marketing is a term coined by HubSpot’s CEO, Brian Halligan. The theory of Code Marketing is that customers always want to try stuff before making a purchase. Just the same as what happens in the SaaS industry where customers can get free trials before purchasing a license.
In this case, you can offer trial products and services online to get customers’ feedback and understand their preferences. The “try before you buy” approach allows your customers to experience your services, processes, and brand before making long-term commitments. It also allows you to improve your offerings to better the experience for paying customers.
For example, at Gripped, we have applied this concept in several ways:
- First, we deliver actionable content that explains our internal processes and planning, and how we deliver the right results to our clients.
- Second, we create case studies to show potential clients the actual results we’ve achieved for some of our existing clients.
- Finally, we focus on building long-term sustainable relationships that guarantee results for our clients, while still allowing those clients to flexibly engage with our service offering.
Digital advancements and transformations have enabled businesses to be agile and stable. Coincidentally, the COVID-19 situation presented a perfect moment for companies to test their agility. Whilst some firms had a seamless transition to remote and online operations, others experienced a hiatus due to the sudden change in the business landscape.This case underscores the importance of creating a B2B sales process that’s future-proof. Your operations need to move fluidly and adapt to changing situations to avoid distractions and downtime. Most importantly, you need a solid foundation that connects all your team members and fosters confidence in the wake of a crisis.
Bridge your sales and marketing functions
One way of ensuring business flexibility (and improved outcomes) is through aligning your sales and marketing functions. It’s all too common for these functions to remain separated — driving after different goals. But digital marketing and sales strategies require both teams to work together in delivering successful leads. Misalignment of your teams can be quite costly, and this is something that makes businesses lose more than £798 billion every year.Proper alignment of your sales and marketing functions boosts customer retention rates, prevents lost leads, optimises and simplifies workflows, and shows your real ROI. It also helps your marketing team to qualify leads that are only sales-ready, reducing wastage of resources. Additionally, it improves communication and makes roles clear for both teams.
Be ready for change, and put the customer first
In a world where sales are continuously defined by different factors, such as demand, consumer behaviour, and customer preferences, it’s okay to say that nothing is truly “normal.” Change is always constant, even without a pandemic. What matters is your ability to adapt to changing situations and consistently meet your customer needs.
This is entirely possible when you put your customers’ interests first and invest in quality content marketing, simplified processes, and streamlined functions within your organisation. You need to identify ways of adding value and accelerating growth amidst economic shifts and unexpected changes.
Always make data-backed decisions to improve your ability to quickly adjust messages, tactics, and channels, while leveraging technology to drive change and earn results using a proven and tested online sales process. If you want help analysing the specifics of your situation, get in touch and book your free Growth Audit today.