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Sales are the lifeblood of nearly every business. Although a February jobs report showed signs of a strengthening economy — with 379,000 jobs added during the month — nothing is guaranteed in the age of Covid-19. Consumer demand might be strong at the moment, but it could just as easily stagnate in the months ahead.
For entrepreneurs and business leaders, the unpredictable nature of business during a pandemic has been a major stressor for the past year. Before Covid-19, you probably knew your close rate and could use it to project revenue; now, everything is uncertain.
Related: How Your Small Business Can Survive The COVID-19 Pandemic
This uncertainty is precisely why you need to focus on your sales pipeline. That doesn’t mean that you can afford to “play slop,” though. The prospects in your funnel should be targeted. Many companies are becoming more intentional about who they’re reaching out to and what qualifiers they’re measuring. You also have to tighten everything up to compete.
If technology was your competitive edge before 2020, you’ve probably lost that advantage. Everyone has the sales engagement technology that helped leading businesses crush pipelines two years ago. If you’re performing at an average level, how can you excel? By leveraging your sales engagement platform. The technology is the pipe, and you are the water. Your efforts are key to developing the perfect prospect list. Here are four ways you can improve your sales:
1. Adjust and improve the most important aspects of your messaging
Because many businesses are still operating remotely, digital communication has become the status quo. Your prospects are likely receiving more sales emails than ever, so your messaging has to stand out. Perfect your emails by starting with the preview text (the most important element), which is pulled from the body and displayed after the subject line (the second most important aspect). Almost 25 percent of recipients read the preview before opening an email, so it should provide context for your correspondence.
Although you should still be firm with prospects when trying to close deals, you’ll need to be empathetic to what your prospects are experiencing. The pandemic hasn’t been easy for anyone. Check your messaging with multiple people, including individuals who don’t think or look like you. If they wouldn’t open your email, then you may need to adjust your messaging.
2. Take advantage of opportunities to interact with prospects
Whether your customers are organizations or consumers, any number of factors (e.g., economic uncertainty or changing government policy) could force prospects to delay or abandon an investment or purchase. You’ll need a bigger pipeline if you want to come close to your typical sales velocity.
Get creative about how you meet and engage prospects. You probably aren’t going to any events, so jumping on the phone is particularly important. Take advantage of any reason you can find to interact with prospects, even if you’re just calling to check in.
You might also consider hosting a virtual event show off product specs or share relevant insights. You can customize virtual events for a handful of specific prospects. Remember that even if you don’t close a sale this quarter, the possibility is still on the table. Keep establishing and developing relationships, and success will follow.
Related: What Makes the Sales Follow-Up Email Special?
3. Be everywhere online, reaching out to prospects where they are
There’s a reason the term “omnichannel marketing” has become a big buzzword in the marketing world. Omnichannel (or multichannel) messaging campaigns elevate customer expectations and drive more sales, according to a recent study from SAP. When you can’t rely on in-person selling opportunities, your digital channels must take the spotlight.
If you’re leading a B2B company, it’s likely that your website has always been your storefront. Now, your online presence is also a key driver of awareness. Make sure your digital properties offer a frictionless experience and valuable resources.
These efforts should also include social media. At Sapper Consulting, we used a social media aggregator to amplify our marketing messaging through our sales team members’ accounts. You’d be shocked by the quick ROI this relatively inexpensive investment generated.
4. Set expectations while helping your sales team meet them
More than 75 percent of salespeople said their company provides at least a quarter of their leads. How are you assisting your sales team’s efforts? If you expect pre-pandemic sales numbers, your sales team will lose hope. Remember: Your goals set the tone for the quarter, not the pandemic. Creating smart and realistic objectives will help your sales team establish a pipeline cushion to offset the uncertainty of the pandemic.
You might want to conduct a risk rundown with your team to make sure you’re looking at the bigger picture and evaluating potential problems. If team members can predict any issues they might encounter, then you can brainstorm potential solutions together in advance. Keep morale high by motivating and equipping the team to facilitate success.
Related: What Do Successful Sales Look Like for the Rest of 2020?
Sales success is critical in the current business environment, so your pipeline should be your top priority. Your prospecting and sales KPIs should be your most important financial metrics, and you’ll need to know immediately if you’re not hitting your targets. The faster you pivot to solve bottlenecks and enhance your sales capabilities, the faster the “new normal” will start feeling normal.