The late Jack Welch used to say: If the rate of change on the outside is greater and faster than the inside, then the end is near. Yet, many companies are waiting for “business” to resume as normal vs. shifting to thrive in the new environment. Could this be why I’m hearing about 50-80%+ sales and revenue drops? C-19 is stopping virtually everything in its tracks to create what Roger Sanford (Co-Founder of Stop the Sales Drop) coined as the “Great Pause.”
It was important for sales and marketing to pause and think about what the market needs to hear and what actions companies should take. But now is the time to shift the business, marketing communications and approaches. It’s time to plot a new heading for growth in the new abnormal world and move from the “Great Pause” to the “Great Shift.” The actions you take today will determine your future market position. Below are some of the shifts that marketing experts’ discussed during our recent Stop the Sales Drop Virtual Summit …
Lisa Shepherd, The Mezzanine Group: Take a Page from Apple – Think Differently, Market Differently, Sell Differently
Companies need to be open to new ways to marketing and selling rather than jump to the “Oh that will never work” reaction to new concepts and ideas that can help them on digital platforms. Her clients are finding that promotion calendars are out the window as their clients’ and prospects’ priorities have shifted and the old rules are no longer applying. For example, before you may take 3 weeks to promote a webinar, now one of her clients gained 150 webinar registrants in 3 days which led to new sales cycles.
Instead of going dark when clients and prospects need us most – or filling the digital space with the same content, Lisa is advising that marketing teams get creative with their lead gen and demand gen programs, get bold with their brand and involve interactive content. As she shared in her video interview — Data from the last 100 years of economic downturns shows that the companies that increase their presence during this time are the ones that make a faster, stronger rebound.
Michael Brenner, Marketing Insider Group: Internal Sales & Marketing Communications Need to Shift More Than Anything Else
As most marketing organizations are not accountable for revenue – they are seen as a necessity and an expense vs. a financially viable and valuable asset. When you are an asset, you do not make cuts. In fact, investments increase.
During his video interview, Brenner mentioned that “sales and marketing has the obligation to show leadership that marketing has always been and will be an asset that drives organizational objectives and KPI growth.”
He then mentioned that the second internal conversation that sales and marketing should be having is that we need to focus on the entire customer journey and that means we have to go beyond the buyer that is making the decision today (or in most cases now -delaying the decision today).
We need to focus on the influencers around that buyer meaning sales and marketing needs increased top-to-bottom engagement. Once sales and marketing have those internal communications, teams can then move forward together.
Lee Odden, Top Rank Marketing: Break-Free From Status Quo Pre-C-19 Marketing
While marketing has evolved with ABM and increased personalization, Lee Odden from Top Rank Marketing mentions that B2B marketers are still relying on “status quo” demand gen and lead gen tactics. They’re pushing out e-books, webinars, email drips and information to drive metrics vs. creating experiences.
With the pandemic, everyone working from home and lots of uncertainty, everything is up for grabs now. There are no live events. There’s no field marketing. There are no in-person experiences. So B2B marketers need to provide a “different” digital experience with content that is trusted, authentic, relevant and useful.
Now is the time for customers to engage with B2B companies in new ways and to bring back old methods like user-generated content and put a fresh new spin to it. This is how companies can create a community, which is what buyers need at a time everyone is social distancing. You can listen to Lee Odden’s interview to learn about some of the new innovative ways you can create a digital experience with your content.
Ardath Albee, Modus: Realign Marketing with Buyers
The buyer orientation has changed. They went from a focus on growth, investing and KPI achievement to survival mode where they are freezing budgets, conserving cash, and trying to become more efficient. Companies are looking at things differently.
But as Ardath shared in her video interview, marketing and sales did not evolve and they have not adjusted their content, style and tone. They’re acting as if they’re not cognizant of buyers, their needs at this point in time and how to use empathy in a meaningful way and how they can be that voice that gives prospects and customers an uplift.
Companies are missing the opportunity to make an impact now and help clients and prospects take much-needed steps. This way when budgets become available, their sales and marketing teams will get their wallet share.
Jessica Fewless, Demandbase: Rebalance Marketing Spend and Focus on Existing Customers
Because C-19 blind-sighted most companies and no one knows how long the crisis will last and if we will have a 2nd wave when the world starts to open again, many companies are re-evaluating their investments and cutting back spending. Meanwhile, customer success and account management teams are left to their own devices to try to retain their clients.
As Jessica Fewless mentioned in her video interview, when it comes to customer marketing, it’s like a black hole and an area where 95% of companies are ineffective. In fact, she mentioned, that in most cases, customers are engaging at the “user-level” vs. the VP and C-Suite that makes the decisions.
More, importantly, they’re having the wrong conversations. Customer success and account management teams continue to talk about activities completed and benefits delivered vs. gaps fixed, the personal impact and how the program will evolve to meet needs during this time. By shifting their social, email and live selling conversations, a supply chain technology firm was able to protect and expand their P&G account.
Carlos Hidalgo, DemandGen: It’s Perilous for Companies Not to Shift Marketing Investments Toward Becoming Buyer Centric
While most companies are cutting back their marketing spend, Carlos Hildago (Chief Strategy Officer at DemandGen) tells clients that they are putting their company at risk if they do not continue to invest in the right things. During this time marketing organizations need to invest in analytics so they know what’s working and what’s not as companies cannot “guess” when profits and revenue are on the line.
And, they need to invest in customer insight so you can know what customers are buying, how are they buying, why are they buying, what are the things they need to hear vs. what you want to say. This way your content, messaging and conversations will be contextually relevant to what they are going through and you can help them through their time of disruption or crisis. In his video interview, Carlos shares more information on how to become more buyer-centric and supports sales vs. driving the sale during this time when companies are not ready to buy.
Get More Insights With Our Virtual Summit On-Demand Recordings
Lisa, Michael, Lee, Jessica, Ardath, Carlos and 45+ other advisors, sales/marketing experts, CMOs and VPs shared their insights at the “Stop the Sales Drop Virtual Summit” that was filled with panel discussions, conversations with the experts and interactive experiences. You can get four videos from the summit for free when you join our community