As expected, we are seeing a material impact on business as a result of COVID-19, resulting in cost-cutting, tremendous pressure on customer churn, late-stage deals slipping, and crickets from prospective customers. Our customers and prospects are reevaluating their 2020 forecasts, and we are seeing a lot of scenario planning. In this new normal, how do we ramp up virtual selling?
We recently held a roundtable on remote prospecting and lead generation where Kevin McShane, a seasoned Chief Revenue Officer, shared his experiences on developing new COVID-19 relevant messaging, aligning your sales strategy to that of the customer or prospect, and focusing on customer value.
“Sales is first and foremost about creating customer value. Revenue and profits will flow thereafter,” Kevin said. He went on to discuss how customer churn is detrimental to a business. Identifying leading indicators of customer success and customer churn and really knowing how we drive success is essential to avoid customer churn. “If you don’t have your hands around what makes a customer relationship successful versus where there’s churn likely, then you don’t have the instruments that you need to fly the plane,” Kevin emphasized.
As customers and prospects are developing their own COVID-19 relevant messages, win-win themes, and value propositions, organizations need to align their sales and marketing strategies accordingly. The values and messaging of sales and business development reps should align to the new COVID-19 strategy of the customer or prospect. We should invest our time and understanding in what is going on with our customers and prospects, and pivot in the same ways.
Kevin went on to discuss marketing and building the pipeline in the virtual era. “The debate between push and pull marketing is over,” Kevin declared. Instead of cold-calling and push marketing, we should be focusing on thought leadership – generating relevant content for that particular stakeholder at that particular prospect. This could include white papers, webinars, blogs, etc. This idea of pull marketing is where we target the top 25 or 50 in the market and then deliver thought leadership content to those stakeholders.
When it comes to existing customer relationships, a critical piece of responding to an organizational pivot is preparing product/service alternatives or pricing options. “We need to expect pricing pressure from the existing customer base, and we need to be prepared to make trades to keep that business relationship intact,” Kevin explained. He went on to offer examples such as alternative payment terms, opt-out agreement options, or layered usage models. By pivoting with the customer and offering options, a relationship can be preserved.
Kevin concluded by repeating the mantra “sales is first and foremost about creating customer value.” By employing empathy, learning how our customers or prospects are pivoting, and shifting our strategies to align, we can persist in creating and maintaining customer relationships through the COVID-19 era.