Sales during COVID-19 – Searching for ways to stay productive, efficient and sane

What I have discovered…

Any of us in sales this year have needed to adapt our approach to our sales efforts for a variety of reasons:  Prospect’s office closed. Office open and functioning, but purchase decisions moved firmly onto the back-burner. Contacts out of work.  New contacts unclear as to the company’s needs or interest.  I’ve had to find a few ways to keep sales activity up and new ways of getting in contact with potentials.  I have narrowed down what I believe have helped me the most during this time working remotely.

Sales Development: Cold Calling and Tailored Emails

Cold calling is one of the most classic sales development tactics. Depending on who you ask though, it is either the most proven method, or not effective at all.  This can typically be due to the industry you’re in, the product or service offered, or your target’s job function.  In a normal situation, I have found that employees in sales related positions are much more likely to answer the phone and willing to have a conversation; were HR or AP focused targets are more likely to respond through email.  But this is where I have seen a change during the remote working period of this pandemic; I have had much more success cold calling targets in these positions since they have been at home.  The real benefit has been the ability to just have the conversation with people that otherwise would have been too busy in the office to respond.

Where I have seen the largest increase in overall activity is the Tailored Emails that I send.  We have several different templates that I tailored for a specific industry or that are designed to focus on a specific benefit that we have to offer.  During the first 2-3 weeks of the stay-at-home order, I saw a significant drop in the amount of sent emails being opened, clicked on, and even delivered (if you count the automatic response emails).  However, recently I’ve noticed a new trend.  I have seen more; opens, clicks, and responses than I was getting prior to COVID-19.  The increase in targets clicking on the email and visiting our website has doubled during the pandemic.  This may be due to business being slower in most industries and my targets having more time to read the email and evaluate if what we offer is of benefit to them.  One of the biggest silver linings of this period has been the ability to have more of these introductory conversations with interested targets; the downfall has been that many of these companies are not currently in a position to make any changes, due to the business slowdown.

Closing: Maintaining Relationships, Staying Connected

Some things don’t change just because we are working from home; an obvious example of that is the fact that we work with people that are in different time zones.  Typically this can cause problems when trying to schedule meeting times.  However during this period I have seen that flexibility on the salespersons part is really appreciated; and has resulted in many more targets being interested in learning about us.  Something that I always try to do, not just from home, is offer a target several different date and time options. It reduces the chance of a hard “no” response, and demonstrates to the client I am flexible and willing to work around their schedule.

For me the different video chat applications have been crucial for meetings and getting some face time instead of just the phone calls and emails.  It is so important to be able to put a face to a name, it makes the whole process more enjoyable and personable for everyone involved.  Since everyone is working remote it is really interesting to see everyone in either their home or with their personalized background, or occasionally the unfortunate up-the-nose camera angle.  Overall, in my opinion, the willingness of people to get on a video call has skyrocketed.  I did not expect that using video calls would be so beneficial during this pandemic, but I am not surprised.  From my own perspective it is always a positive to get face time with people you are working with, and technology is the only way to do that while we are all remote.

Whether our current reality is short lived or our new norm, I hope you too are uncovering your own silver linings and successes.  I would also really appreciate hearing about your own discoveries and how your marketing world has been influenced during the pandemic.

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