There has been an obvious and much-needed shift to remote sales over the last few months, and many industries are feeling the ramifications of losing the ability to continue outside sales tactics. Unfortunately, remote work is just our reality now and could be for the unseeable future. Even when states begin to open back up, our lives before covid-19 may never fully come back. Most of you have figured out workarounds for the time being, but adjusting to remote sales fully might be a bit more challenging.
Recently, I reached out to Printfection’s Head of Marketing, Ryan Campion to get his thoughts on how things have shifted in his industry. Printfection is a swag management company and for the most part, has relied heavily on trade shows to fill their pipeline. Now with all in-person events shifting to a virtual world, Printfection and many companies alike have had to shift their strategy and do so quickly.
“How do you overcome the loss in revenue from trade shows and events, which have all but evaporated? Live events often comprise the lion’s share of marketing budgets, and that’s for good reason. There’s not a better or more effective environment in which to sell than in-person. And now that’s all been squashed.
To add more insult to injury, how can sales teams sell at a time like this when most businesses’ budgets have been slashed? There is no single silver bullet here, but we’ll explore a few strategies you may want to consider.”
Here are some great tips he shared with me:
Not every business will be able to leverage this strategy, but if you are capable of selling into multiple verticals, try to focus your efforts on those that might actually thrive during a pandemic.
Look at Zoom’s stock over the past couple of months. That company is on a tear. Anything that supports or relates to this new virtual/remote working dynamic could be a great target.
Webinar and virtual conferencing platforms, cybersecurity companies, e-signature platforms like DocuSign, telehealth, and telemedicine companies — all are likely benefiting from the shift away from physical events.
You can leverage database tools like Crunchbase to search for companies by vertical and figure out what might work best for your business.
A quick caveat before you go charging off into a new vertical: if the task sounds a bit daunting, it likely is.
If it were easy to sell into new industries, your sales reps would already be doing it. That said, dipping your toes into new waters doesn’t have to be a monumental challenge.
One of the best ways to start is simple email marketing.
Start with identifying the types of companies that could be thriving at the moment and that also has a need for your solution or service. Next, you need to find contacts for those accounts. There are data tools like Clearbit, Zoominfo, DiscoverOrg, etc, that you could leverage. Check with your Sales or Marketing Ops teams to see what you might already be using.
If you have multiple SDRs, you can leverage them to mine LinkedIn for contacts as well, and to send LinkedIn messages in addition to regular emails to drum up meetings.
Cold-calling, even in the best of times, is tricky business. Sales reps generally don’t enjoy it, and prospects aren’t keen to answer calls they don’t recognize.
It makes sense to touch base with your existing customers more frequently over the phone or video calls, but now’s probably not the best time to holler at prospects.
Sales reps will more than likely be calling empty office lines, and even if you do happen upon a prospect’s mobile or home number, dialing them there likely won’t be well-received.
I would say it’s better to resort to email, but craft your message very carefully, which we’ll explore below.
At Printfection, we started selling into our ‘thriving market’ about a month ago, and our chiefest concern was are we going to come off as insensitive for trying to sell during a health crisis?
To mitigate this possible perception, we altered the messaging of all our sales communications and emails to reflect we understood the stresses of the current climate. And we aligned our solution to how it can meet the challenges of remote selling.
For example, one of our cold emails starts off with this line:
Hey – what a surreal time we’re living through, huh?
It’s personal, it’s simple, and it’s candid – these are ridiculously surreal times, and anyone can empathize with that as no person has remained untouched by the outbreak.
Your follow-up emails can then use verbiage like, “I know these are mad times but can I get your thoughts?”
We’ve reached out to hundreds of contacts and hardly anyone has been offended by our selling attempts. I think everyone gets it – we’re all trying to survive in these tough circumstances.
Full disclosure, this section is going to plug Printfection a bit, but a key part of our solution is perfectly aligned for the current landscape in which most people are working from home.
Direct mail has undergone a massive resurgence in the past 5 years, and it’s now a great way to differentiate yourself amidst the slew of online ads, emails, and other digital bombardments facing buyers today.
The problem, though, is that even direct mail campaigns fall short during a pandemic if the only address info you have for an individual is a corporate office — which likely looks like a ghost town at the moment.
Printfection’s Giveaway feature gets around that nicely. We’re a swag management platform that lets sales and marketing teams create, design, store, and ship their company’s branded swag, or promotional products, to customers and prospects around the world.
And our Giveaway feature lets a sales rep send a link to a prospect via email (or social), which takes the prospect to a landing page you can brand with your company’s look and feel.
On that landing page, you can offer the prospect any number of branded gifts.
They select their item (and if it’s a sized-item, they choose their size), and then they simply enter in their own shipping address, and boom — Printfection ships it right to them.
Your prospects will likely respond to the gift offer because it’s thoughtful and unique, and you can also follow up with them once the item is delivered.
We have leveraged fuzzy slippers, high-end plush blankets, and solar-powered charge banks that are useful for charging devices when people are trying to work outside at a park or maybe even their patio.
Let’s say there are no thriving markets for you to go after. Perhaps your solution caters only to the oil industry. That’s a crazy rough market right now.
In this case, it might be best to align your sales and marketing teams to do an all-out focus on customer retention.
At Printfection, even though we’re able to keep selling at a lower rate, I’ve still increased my time spent on customer marketing to over 60%.
The true measure of one’s character comes not when times are easy, but when you get knocked down when times are tough.
Your customers will remember your brand more by how you help them during this time than when everything is rosy and normal.
Send your customers funny memes via email – laughter and humor are sorely needed right now.
You can, of course, send them to work from home swag gifts like we’re doing at Printfection. That goes a long way in letting a customer know they are valuable and that you appreciate them.
Remember, people buy based on emotions and then use logic to rationalize their purchases.
By giving someone a gift during a tough time, you inspire those sincere, warm-and-fuzzy sensations that further cement the bond of your business relationship.
Will you eliminate all churn this way? Of course not.
Some companies are struggling more than others, and your solution might not be critical enough for them to keep spending.
If you treat such customers well now, they may very well return once the pandemic subsides.
In the end, resilience and being scrappy is the key to surviving and even thriving here.
Give yourself a break as a marketing or sales leader/contributor and acknowledge these are insane unprecedented times.
Then, with a full grasp that the current situation presents you with incredible challenges, focus on what you can control.
Take deep breaths. Focus on the present day.
Prepare for tomorrow, but don’t try to live in the future. That’s impossible and only breeds anxiety.
The only moment that counts is the present, so do what you can today, and this too, shall pass.”