Despite unprecedented measures to help cushion us from the health and economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the rapid onset and severity of the health crisis so far has had far reaching effects on both individuals and organisations. Not only that, but people and businesses have been impacted by the pandemic in very different ways. With the exception of certain sectors such as supermarket retail or food distribution which saw sudden uplifts, the majority of businesses have found themselves with lower sales or an unstable, erratic sales pipeline as their customers and prospects grapple with the fallout of lockdown and social distancing. So, how can you revitalise your sales pipeline and make sure your business does not fall victim to the pandemic?
Strengthen your focus on account management
We often find that all too often businesses become so busy with day to day operations and delivering for repeat customers the same products or services, they do not take adequate time to gain feedback or identify changing needs within the marketplace. Listening and working closely with existing clients is more important now than ever before, as their needs may well have changed during the short period under which lockdown measures have been implemented. Allocating responsibility to managing existing client relationships to a specific point of contact, can help to ensure that your business continues to meet customer needs effectively, defending against approaches from a competitor and identifying new opportunities to cross sell additional services. Good account management not only helps to strengthen relationships. The sales cycle on opportunities identified is likely to be quicker than those gained from approaching prospects from cold.
Undertake a market research and data cleansing exercise
The Covid-19 associated lockdowns across the world have the changed the way we live and do business very rapidly. Even though we are beginning to ease out of lockdown, we are living within the boundaries of a ‘new normal’ that looks set to be with us for some time. Many businesses have pivoted with major changes to their products, services and processes meaning that their requirements from your business could also be different to the pre-Covid era. Undertaking a market research exercise now will help you establish where to target your marketing efforts, identify which messages to communicate that are most likely to resonate with prospects and uncover new opportunities to generate revenue. Whilst it is good practice for companies to keep data under constant management and review in order to comply with legislation such as GDPR, now may be an appropriate time to review your database closely. Considerable numbers of decision makers and influencers in your pipeline may switch companies or change role during these turbulent times.
Refine your sales process for managing inbound leads
As the pandemic continues, businesses in sectors such as professional services, are strengthening their ability to generate inbound leads online as their teams are often remote working with less opportunities to proactively seek opportunities in person. To make an excellent first impression and give your company the best chance of converting inbound enquiries into sales, it is best to refine a process for handling incoming opportunities. Here are a few things to consider:
- Who will be responsible for responding to enquiries that arrive by phone?
- How will telephone enquiries by re-directed if the person who needs to reply is working from home? How will the call re-direct if the designated person is already on the phone?
- What pre-qualification questions does the call handler need to ask in order to direct the enquiry to the correct person, create a proposal or take the prospect to the next level?
- What information and marketing materials are available to send to interested prospects?
- Who will handle inbound leads via the website?
- Is there an acceptable time frame by which inbound leads must be responded to? What is the industry standard for this?
- Should leads be logged on the company CRM system within a specific timeframe?
- Who will create and follow up proposals to check they have been received?
These are just some of the questions that need to be considered in order to create a smooth, professional system for dealing with inbound leads. They are often overlooked but vitally important to stop investment in marketing activities early in the lead generation pipeline from going to waste.
Forming new relationships
Although some traditional methods of new business generation such as face to face networking or business exhibitions have become more difficult, or at times impossible during lockdown, digital technology has allowed businesses to continuing communicating with each other from afar to establish new relationships. Much networking for instance has gone online allowing decision makers to come together regularly in virtual video meetings, whilst some businesses have invested more heavily in techniques such as pay per click advertising on search engines or social media to drum up fresh leads. It is important to recognise that sales cycles in business to business environments can be long, hence topping up the funnel with early stage leads now is important for driving sales months down the line. Whilst a percentage of decision makers may be reluctant to do business without a face to face meeting first, depending on how fast the Covid-19 pandemic is resolved, this may not be practically possible. Therefore, it’s vital that your marketing and lead generation process is able to build trust and dependability in your brand using the tools available.
How can Lightning Transformations support your sales pipeline?
As an established full-service marketing and lead generation agency, we are equally experienced in designing marketing communications campaigns to nurture existing client relationships for our customers as we are helping to develop business in brand new markets. Our breadth of service delivery encompassing digital and offline marketing means that we are able to put together the right combination of techniques to match the needs of our clients: From telephone account management or digital marketing, to prompt inbound call handling for your enquiries we can help to support your lead generation and sales pipeline activity at any point. Use as many or few of our services as your business requires without increasing your headcount during these uncertain times. Please contact us by clicking here or give us a call on 01284 332 738 / 01235 428 124 to see how we can help you.