This article was originally featured in Business 2 Community on April 29, 2021.
It’s 2021. You’re probably ready to return to pre-pandemic operations, but the business landscape isn’t the same one you bid farewell in 2019. The business world has changed drastically over the past year due to social distancing restrictions, economic uncertainty, remote work, and unemployment — and these changes have affected B2B sales.
You can’t expect to sell the same way you did before or even during the pandemic because your prospects aren’t the same. McKinsey & Company research indicates that 70% of B2B buyers would make fully remote purchases up to $50,000, and they see digital interactions as two to three times more important than in-person ones. Trends are changing as the economy recovers, and you’ll have to pivot accordingly.
To snag clients in the “next normal,” you’ll have to revisit your sales processes (and potentially toss a few into the recycling bin). Maybe you relied on conferences and conventions to fill your pipeline before the pandemic, but you’ll need a digital-first approach now. And if you softened your messaging for a mid-pandemic audience, you may need to adapt your phrasing for buyers who are ready for the future.
Even if you struggled in 2020, you can still regain your competitive edge. You just need to develop a sales rebound strategy before you move forward into the new normal. Mixing up the way you prospect, pitch, and close will be crucial for post-pandemic success. Here’s how you can resonate with B2B buyers as the country reopens:
1. Embrace video for meetings.
Whenever possible, engage with your prospects over FaceTime, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom. Remember: People are craving personal connections. Even though buyers recognize and appreciate the importance of digital touchpoints, it has been a long year of limited in-person contact.
Getting your face in front of potential buyers could pay off handsomely because you’ll be able to create a sense of camaraderie. Stop scheduling impersonal phone calls and turning off your video during meetings. Prospects will appreciate seeing your face and talking to a real person rather than a picture.
2. Strike COVID-19 from your messaging.
By now, people are tired of seeing anything related to the pandemic. Instead of referencing COVID-19, keep your conversations positive and future-focused. Talk about what you’re going to do to help prospects now and tomorrow. Don’t dwell on what happened before, especially in your emails.
About a quarter of consumers preview their emails, according to Litmus. Make sure your first few lines are particularly relevant, upbeat, and irresistible. If you’re leading with anything related to the coronavirus, rewrite it. To cover your bases, ask some colleagues or trusted friends to look over your emails before anything goes out. They might notice negativity or pandemic-focused language you didn’t realize was there.
3. Lean into multichannel communications.
In the past, you might have focused your sales efforts solely on phone calls or emails. The landscape is different today. B2B selling has been transformed by consumerization; prospects are looking for a personalized, multichannel experience that makes the process easier.
That’s why you need to be actively prospecting for and responding to potential buyers on various platforms. If you’re not using social media, phone calls, video meetings, emails, and more, then you won’t be able to reach audiences in a post-pandemic world.
4. Mix up your pitches.
Empathy is the name of the game right now. Take time to craft your pitches based on your prospects’ needs. You can figure out what will resonate the most by asking current clients what their biggest struggles are moving into the post-pandemic era.
Just make sure you’re not using the same blanket pitches based on their answers. HubSpot reports that 69% of buyers want sales pitches customized to meet their specific needs. While you might encounter unexpected objections when you vary your pitch, that’s perfectly fine. The more obstacles you can navigate during these conversations, the better grasp you’ll have on what modern buyers want.
B2B selling has never stopped, but it has undoubtedly changed over the past year. To help your sales team rebound, focus on updating your strategy for a post-pandemic audience.
Need a little more expert guidance? Check out Sapper’s e-book for advice on how to recover from a recession.