This article was originally published in Bplans on December 30, 2020.
Before the pandemic, your team probably didn’t overthink your outreach strategy. You pulled prospects into your sales funnel and kept your company’s engine humming. Now, you’re in unfamiliar territory
. Nothing is business as usual, and what once worked doesn’t anymore.
Reaching out to potential customers during the pandemic might seem tricky, but it just requires a delicate approach. At Sapper Consulting
, we specialize in lead generation. Our team regularly helps clients who need to fill their pipelines, and our efforts haven’t stopped because of COVID-19. In fact, we know that bringing in new customers is more critical than ever, given the tough business landscape.
If your bottom line has been hurt by lost clients and revenue, then you need to double down on an outreach approach. Although tweaking your strategy
will take some time, it’s an investment that will enrich your value proposition for potential and even current clients. After all, your offering could be exactly what people need to solve their own pain points. Start landing deals again by adjusting your outreach expectations with these 5 steps.
1. Get to know your clients better than before
Recently, a client we’ve worked with for years let us know that our success took them from a home business to a thriving company that has to hire during COVID-19 in order to keep up with sales. We were able to secure them meetings by learning their company, building compelling content
, and persistently finding opportunities for them to shine.
The formula is simple — Discover what makes each client unique and how they aim to help their own customers grow.
Many businesses are hoping to operate as close to normal as possible, but that might not be possible
in today’s climate. You need to evaluate what your offering provides and how it can help clients at this moment in time. The need hasn’t disappeared for whatever service or product you provide, but your customers’ reasons for buying have changed. Your expectations for responses should be focused on how you can illustrate your ability
to solve companies’ needs in the current paradigm.
Are you still familiar with the ins and outs of your prospects’ businesses? Do you not recognize your buyers at all? The first step of renewing your outreach strategy is likely updating your target personas
. You don’t have to reinvent them completely, but you do need to think about how those personas’ buying behaviors have changed.
For example, some industries, such as travel and hospitality, have made huge shifts to navigate social distancing restrictions. Once you know what each persona’s day-to-day looks like, you can map out their outreach journey.
2. Review all current messaging
Robust and successful outreach strategies in the pandemic
look thoughtful, realistic, agile, and empathetic. Evaluate the outreach content you’re pushing out to prospects and clients. Are you adequately communicating the value points they need to hear right now, especially given their ever-shifting hurdles? The verbiage, cadence, and even imagery
you used prior to COVID-19 may not make sense anymore and could come across as tone-deaf. Adjust all your touchpoints so that you can help your audience see why you’re the right partner right now.
If you’re not sure what will resonate with your prospects, do some research
. Go to their websites and social media pages and read what they’re talking about. Check out how they’re communicating with customers. Your updated target personas should provide some messaging direction, but diving below the surface will give you concrete talking points. When you’re in-sync with their experiences, you’ll have a better chance of forming lasting partnerships.
3. Be realistic about time frames
You may need to close sales, but your customer may not be thinking about how you can help or ready to hear your pitch. Like the rest of the business world, the buying cycle has shifted, too. Prospects may not be ready to contextualize your offering because they’re focused on helping the individuals who benefit from the success of their own business.
It’s easy to get frustrated when prospective clients drag their feet, but you need to be patient. An unresponsive lead might still convert. It might not just be the right time for her to sign a contractual arrangement. So don’t let this stop your outreach. Stay top of mind by sending regular follow-up messages and sharing legitimately valuable information. Connect the dots for prospects and let them get back to you on their own time.
4. Shift your outreach methods based on real-time feedback
Sales and marketing are ever-evolving fields, and they’re undergoing radical shifts right now. You can’t rest on your laurels or refuse to change when you get client feedback that doesn’t align with your outreach plan. Instead, you should be ready to shift your cadence, value propositions, and calls to action at a moment’s notice.
Unfortunately, many teams are still treating virtual sales as a placeholder for in-person ones. Don’t make that mistake; virtual meetings deserve their own specific
strategies. Everyone on your team should learn video conferencing best practices, such as matching the tone and pace of a prospect, plotting out the flow of a virtual conversation
, and understanding how to “read” people when you can’t see their body language.
5. Let empathy guide your efforts
Empathy isn’t just a nice-to-have attribute right now. It’s essential if you’re going to connect with your prospects. Aim to listen and learn, not pander and pity. Some conversations might not seem to go anywhere in terms of closing, and that’s OK. When you show support during these tough times, you reveal that you care about more than the bottom line. Aim to assist even when your solution isn’t what they’re looking for.
Moving forward, think of your buyer’s
hang-ups before you think of your own. There’s a lot of noise and anxiety in the world at the moment, so become a meaningful friend and asset to your prospects. You might be shocked to see some of these “lost” leads convert within a few months. If nothing else, your transparency and authenticity could net you unexpected referrals and positive reviews.
Ready to revitalize your outreach strategy? Start with your buyer personas and move on from there. Your renewed approach will wow prospects and restore your sales funnel.