Outbound Sales During COVID-19: Advice From 6 Global Sales Leaders
We are living through a very unusual time for sales. On one hand, jobs are unfortunately being lost and pipelines are rapidly disappearing, but on the other hand, opportunities will be presented to those who handle the situation best. Without warning, sales changed and whatever you were doing a month ago is unlikely to work right now.
Rather than hypothesizing ourselves, we decided to ask 6 senior sales leaders from USA, Europe and the Middle East for their advice. Our goal was to understand what kind of approaches they recommend to outbound sales teams during this period. Some common themes throughout the responses from the six sales leaders are around being respectful of your prospects' time and really doing your homework to personalize your message to their problems.
Kelly Del Curto (Senior Director of Sales at Lever)
I've always believed that the best outbound sales reps are driven by empathy. Putting yourself in your prospect's shoes and offering solutions to the problems they are most trying to solve is the best way to book a meeting and a sale. Today's climate takes that concept and pushes it further. Right now our prospects have a lot on their minds professionally and personally. The outbound messages that will succeed are the ones that adapt their message to relieve some of the pressure that COVID-19 has caused - they are not pushing the same problem / solution messaging that worked previously. That might mean your outreach isn't focused on your product. You might be reaching out to offer general support, best practices or sharing what you've heard from other industry professionals like them at this time. It may feel like you're losing time and ground in your pipeline generation by putting your product on the shelf but I don't see it that way. Building relationships, earning the reputation as a true consultant/trusted partner and providing solutions to your prospects' highest priorities will always generate revenue long term. Ask your prospects what they need right now and then just listen. Generate creative ideas based on what you hear or even collaborate with your prospects on what you could offer the market to get more conversations started.
David Moynihan (Chief Revenue Officer at Intuition)
My advice is simple: You shouldn’t need to change anything. Outbound sales, like all B2B sales, is about relationship building. You should always respect people’s time and priorities, seek to understand their problems and help solve those problems. This idea set should be central to your outbound efforts. COVID-19 provides the perfect sandbox to test how well your approach incorporates these ideas and which areas might need recalibrating.
Mike McGuire (EMEA Vice President of Sales at Iterable)
Better targeting, better messaging and higher activity should be the focus for Q2 and Q3. The business world will keep turning throughout this, it will just get a bit slower so you need to work smarter and harder. The good news is that you will learn much more in a slow economy than in a fast one! Make sure your message is personalised and be respectful of what is happening in the world. I am a big fan of the John Barrows "Why you, why you now?" methodology for personalising cold calls and email. It includes an "attention grabber" in the first line that is unique to the prospect. The best one I have received in the last few months was from someone who referenced an old tweet of mine. Focus on the things you can control (level of activity and quality of messaging) and your results will come. Someone once told me that as a leader we should look at the three Ts of Territory, Timing and Talent. If your level of activity and quality of messaging is excellent, then you are demonstrating talent. That means it's just a matter of timing, or we need to look at what's happening in your territory. Keep the faith.
Matthew Wilkins (Head of Digital Solutions at Biz Group)
More than ever before sales is even less about you. Quite honestly, you don’t actually matter! Every prospect who may have given you the time of day before or has any true buying power will now be utterly ruthless with their time. They are fighting for survival, burning the candle at both ends trying to figure out how they keep their business moving and people they care about in jobs.
The need to understand their world, their challenges, their needs has been magnified a hundredfold. If you are not willing to truly invest in them, build some emotional credit. Then there is no way they will risk their own job security to gamble on the solution you’ve miraculously decided will solve COVID-19 worldwide (and quite frankly why should they). 1. Ditch your ego - it’s never been about you; if you want to survive, you have to finally acknowledge that fact.
2. Invest in really understanding your clients world. If you're not going to take the time to figure out everything you can about them, there’s no way they’re going to take the time to bring you up to speed.
3. Finally, do something genuinely selfless that helps improve their reality and most importantly be prepared to get nothing in return. If and when that moment comes that people have the budget to spend again, they are not going to take a gamble, they’re not going to risk their career on an impulse, they’re going to invest in people that have invested in them. So start there.
Stephen Mulligan (EMEA Sales Development Manager at Glint)
Outbound sales teams should be focusing on adding value to prospects in Q2. With all the uncertainty and distress that people are feeling, our teams need to be sensitive to the macro environment and more than ever before, we need to be human. Treat every touch point, as if the prospect is sitting in your living room, kitchen or makeshift office. Businesses priorities have been turned upside down and shaken about. Many of our prospects are taking priorities one day at a time and the reality is that most sellers' solutions, with the exception of Zoom, will not solve today's problems. Therefore, we need to be preparing for when we will come out of the current situation. The human interactions, relationships and value that we harbour now, will set us up for success versus the mentality “Carry-on, business as usual”. With our teams now apart, we should be overly communicating with each other on what is and isn’t working and the insights our prospects share. If teams don’t have a culture of learning already, we need to encourage it and give team members the room to focus on learning and developing their skills. This will make us better and more resilient. Teams should have the expectation that change is constant and we will have more and more in the coming months. To sum it up, we should focus on being human, future wins vs short term gains and encouraging a culture of learning and sharing in outbound teams.
Guillaume Moubeche (Founder & CEO at lemlist)
When it comes to doing sales prospecting in a global crisis I think that people should go back to the true meaning of sales: helping people solve problems. In the next 3-6 months people are going to face a lot of problems and, for me, it’s a huge opportunity for salespeople.
If you want to lead in a time of uncertainty you need to become the certainty. You’ll have to help your prospects even more by spending time understanding the current challenge they’re facing. Once you know what this challenge is, you’ll have to figure out the best way to help them.
Providing value and giving practical examples about what solution they could implement to solve a specific problem is what will make you stand out and succeed. Pushy salespeople will vanish and only the ones who understand the true meaning of sales will succeed.
Keep prospecting, keep helping out people, keep building meaningful relationships ❤️
Hyper-personalized outreach is our speciality at Leadable and in today's environment, this is more important than ever. We understand that it will be very difficult to close new business in Q2, but with the right message, it is a great opportunity to create relationships by leveraging the extra time that your prospects currently have for evaluating new solutions.
Book a call with us today to see if we can help to fill your pipeline for Q3 and Q4.