Growth Strategist, Flawless Inbound
Well, it’s March again. For many of us, March 2020 marks the last time business felt “normal.” Even though many companies have gone back to their offices physically, the impact of the changes to sales and marketing can still be felt. In fact, there are some things that changed about how we do marketing and sales that are permanent.
Here are five ways sales and marketing changed during the COVID-19 pandemic and why your business needs to adapt to them.
1. Sales Went Digital – and There's No Going Back
If there’s one impact of the pandemic, that’s for certain the increase in the necessity of digital sales. Back in March of last year, many companies that were used to in-person sales strategies like tradeshows, events, and networking were seriously struggling to make the switch to selling exclusively online.
For many businesses, the idea of taking their sales digital was a “temporary fix, something they had to do for a little while to get through the lockdown, and then they’d be right back in-person selling. For this reason, many didn’t commit to a permanent digital sales solution.
But digital sales are not temporary. They’re here to stay. That’s why you need more than just a temporary solution for your digital/outbound sales program. Selling through distance isn’t just a simple change to sending emails instead of chatting at a tradeshow. It requires a strategic program that takes planning, monitoring and reporting, testing, optimizing, advanced training, and more.
2. Marketing Got Hyper-Targeted
With the pandemic, many companies had to re-evaluate their budgets and priorities. Your potential customers no longer have the time or budget to spend on solutions that aren’t giving them the exact value they need. Not to mention that as the one doing the selling, you don’t have the time to spend on accounts/leads that aren’t going to make valuable customers.
That means vague, general marketing outreach strategies are no longer going to work. To get the right customers for you, you need a highly-targeted marketing strategy that gives only the right information to the right potential customers.
There are lots of marketing strategies and tactics that can help you hyper-target your campaigns, but we definitely recommend actively working on ABM (Account-Based-Marketing), which we consider to be one of the key building blocks to success in the B2B universe. With an Account-Based Marketing Strategy, you can “flip the funnel” to strategically and personally target accounts (prospects) that you would like to close, rather than spending time (and money) throwing out a broad fishing net and hoping to catch an account that works.
3. The Resurgence of Social Media
Before the pandemic, you might have heard that social media just wasn’t “the place to be” for B2B companies anymore. While that was never entirely true (social media has always been important for all types of companies), it is accurate to say that in the last year, it’s become increasingly critical for all companies to invest in their online presence.
With in-person events and networking cancelled, the best way for your prospects to hear about your company is through social media. It’s recommended that you keep up a consistent posting schedule for both your company profiles and your leadership/sales team’s individual profiles (on LinkedIn for personal profiles, of course). Plus, make sure to include links to follow you/your company on social media in your day-to-day activities, like your email signature, presentations, and website.
Keep your audience up to date on everything you might tell someone during a networking event. Got a new case study? Post about it! Experienced an exciting company-growth milestone? Post about it! Had a company-wide Zoom party? Post about it! As long as you’re staying in your prospects’ feeds, they’ll have no choice but to notice you.
4. Outbound Sales and Inbound Marketing Teamed Up
Sales and Marketing alignment has always been critical, even before the pandemic changed the way both departments operate. But, typically, sales and marketing alignment meant getting aligned on messaging and coming up with a proper handoff process for inbound leads. Outbound lead nurturing for more B2B companies has been primarily done by the sales team. Not anymore.
With both sales and marketing teams having to change their processes and spend more time in order to find and nurture leads “from a distance,” many are in need of a new solution for outbound leads. The solution? Combining Outbound Sales with Inbound Lead Nurturing. How does that work?
- First, you need an Outbound Sales Prospecting strategy that your marketing team knows all the details of.
- Then you need a documented process for your sales reps to follow to add, tag, and track new Outbound leads in your CRM.
- Next, your sales and marketing team leads should work together on strategizing automation and timing for nurturing these leads.
- Then, create smart content based on the personas, target industries, etc., you’re targeting through your Outbound program.
- Then, nurture your list of outbound leads with this content.
- Automate the process to send the leads back to the sales reps when they have taken enough actions to be considered sales qualified (that means setting up some lead scoring).
- Create reporting on all aspects of both the outbound sales process and the inbound nurturing to share with both sales and marketing teams.
P.S. how do we know this works? We’re doing it ourselves. Ask us about our “Hercules” program!
5. The Use of Videos
It’s pretty obvious why video resources have become more popular sales and marketing tools during the pandemic. With the lack of in-person events and networking (plus the lack of general human contact and face-to-face chats), communicating entirely through email or text with prospects just hasn’t been enough. People want to see a face, hear a voice in order to feel connected. Enter: videos.
Here’s a few different things you can do with videos:
- Host regular webinars/workshops with lots of time for questions and interaction from your audience (remember to record them and use them as downloaded resources on your website later).
- Add short introductory videos to your product, service, or solution website pages.
- Pre-record videos to include in your marketing emails, newsletters, and lead nurturing processes.
- Have your sales reps record personalized one-to-one video to use in their sales and prospecting emails (we recommend a tool like VidYard to help produce this).
Interested in learning more about using video effectively in your marketing and sales? Check out the webinar about how to use videos for your entire B2B strategy here!
So there you have it. One year since the world of sales and marketing (and the world in general) changed forever, and these are our top five permanent changes. And – just so you know – all of the solutions we suggested we have also tested. We’ve used all of these new strategies and tactics for our own business, and we’ve also helped plenty of great clients do the same.