By Kendra Lee
The pandemic has business owners thinking very differently about their organizations. They’re scrutinizing their solutions, go-to-market strategies, and processes. They’re re-examining their staff and providers. While they may have had solid a solid business pre-pandemic, now many are scared they won’t be in business post-pandemic. At the very least, they are worried they won’t have nearly as strong a company and possibly a decidedly decreased revenue stream.
Analysts add to that fear as they predict 30% of companies will change providers based on how well their suppliers supported them through the coronavirus. Because everything is being scrutinized right now, any type of vendor is at risk. If you’re a business owner, it’s scary situation.
You have two options: pray or sell. Actually, I think there’s a third option: pray and sell.
Ignoring the situation won’t make it go away. It’s a fact. Some of you did a great job supporting your clients through the start of the pandemic. Some did not. None of us knew what to do when it hit. There was no roadmap. When the Spanish Flu hit, there was no internet and remote work meant you were a farmer. Everyone has been figuring it out as they go, and some figured it out faster and better than others.
That left your clients with potentially unsettling feelings about how well you’re able to support their business. Therein lies the open door for 30% of companies to change providers. Which brings us back to, what are your options? You can ignore the potential loss of 30% of your business and pray, or sell your way through it to offset that possible revenue loss.
Prayer, or hope, is not a strategy to stay in business. Selling is. As one of our clients said to me the other day, “the only way out of this is to sell, so I’m going to sell!”
Sales won’t walk in the door in times like this. You have to make them happen. If 30% of companies will make a change in providers, you want to be in front of those 30% presenting your solutions as options. That means you have to be visible.
Here are the top 6 ways we recommend you keep your company visible post-pandemic as decision makers look to switch providers.
If you’re one of the organizations that let all your sales reps go, either embrace sales right now or hire a new rep. Outbound, proactive calling to all clients, inbound leads, prospects, and new suspects keeps you front and center with contacts, establishes and enhances relationships, and is the fastest way to fill your funnel. Every day you or a sales rep need to be on the phone. Set call metrics and be accountable to them. Use this call guide to plan your conversation, avoid surprises, and identify more opportunities. Planning your calls removes the fear of the unknown before you pick up the phone. You’re more likely to follow-through and make the calls which are so critical right now.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Business owners traditionally rely on referrals to find potential new providers but they’re not networking as frequently right now and referrals have dropped. Post-pandemic decision-makers are using the internet to see who else is out there that they weren’t aware of as possible suppliers, vendors, or partners. It’s critical that your website pops up when those they are looking. SEO is more than just content and keywords, although they are both important. It’s assets, forms, directories, backlinks, sitemaps, website security, error corrections, site speed, call tracking, and more. Be sure you fully understand it and are optimizing the heck out of your website. In today’s environment, you can’t afford to rank fifteenth.
3. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Google Ads and Bing Ads display your company at the top of a search when a decision-maker is actively looking for a new solution provider. Social ads show up in the LinkedIn feeds of the target audience you’ve profiled. You want the 30% seeking a change to see you immediately. Make it your goal to blanket your target market with ads so you’re visible to them. The key is to use geographic, demographic, and audience targeting so the right prospects are seeing the ads you’re paying for and your message speaks directly to their needs. You also want to be sure you’re allocating the right budget to ensure your ads will be available when people search. When combined with search engine optimization, SEM ensures your company is noticed by key decision-makers.
As people return to work post-pandemic, they will again be unsettled. Work environments may have shifted and they’re looking for guidance. Use email to guide your followers with recommendations on what to do and where you can help. The biggest drawback to email is the list. You can only reach people for whom you have email addresses. Use strategies that build your email list such as high-value assets on your website, webinars, and social media. For salespeople, email combined with and calling is still an effective way to set appointments. For marketers, communicate actionable, tactical content. Hold off on the strategic messaging for now. If you don’t have a newsletter, this may be the time to start one and create a communication cadence.
People have flocked to webinars for the same guidance they were seeking from blog and video content but in larger doses. Take advantage of this and make webinars a central element in your lead generation strategy. Many business owners are overwhelmed by the amount of work in conducting a webinar, but they are your opportunity to speak with a larger audience, and if promoted on social media, to expand your audience. Select topics that decision-makers are grappling with right now and offer practical, prescriptive advice with a direct call to action at the end. Promote them on your website and after the event, link to the recording. Incorporate completed webinars into your lead generation and sales process for as long as the topics are relevant.
Have you noticed how active people are on LinkedIn since the start of the pandemic? Suddenly they are messaging, searching via Navigator, building their connections. Even business owners are on LinkedIn connecting and conversing with their network. If you haven’t included LinkedIn as part of your sales and lead generation strategy, now is the time to adopt it. Avoid the “what does your business do” openings and instead share your most valuable content that people in your network can use right now to improve their business. Engage in conversations then invite potential prospects to talk. (For LinkedIn strategies on how to use content to turn connections into prospect conversations, register for our next Coffee with Kendra webinar. We’ll share messaging to use, too.)
People are still buying, and companies will make provider changes. Your goal is to use lead generation strategies that keep you visible in the places decision-makers are looking when they consider making a switch. You don’t want to be overlooked. Use these six approaches to put your company front and center. If you would like assistance implementing any of these strategies, contact us and let’s put a plan in place to get you noticed by your prospects.