It would be an understatement to say that 2020 has been a crazy year so far. With the COVID-19 pandemic still going strong, we’ve seen entire countries and economies crumble. For the average small business, things have been tough and getting new sales in the middle of the pandemic is a challenge, to say the least.
However, it’s not impossible. Not only have some companies been thriving in the pandemic, but others have even used the opportunity to launch a new business. Here are some of the biggest sales challenges in 2020 as well as their best solutions.
Challenge #1 – The Slowdown After the Pandemic
In every industry, there is a noticeable slowdown in new sales. After all, with so many people out of jobs, there is less money to spend. And those that do have extra money to spend and invest are cautious because they fear for their jobs and they don’t know what the future may bring. Needless to say, this situation is difficult for everyone involved.
However, this slowdown does not mean that sales have to suffer. All it takes is a different approach and adjusting your sales processes to the “new normal” as many people call it. In our industry (SaaS), many businesses have given their customers a free month of their product to keep them from leaving. Others have given substantial discounts – for example, the SaaS company Chanty gave 50% off in April.
In many industries, businesses pivoted to discover untapped potential. Many of them moved from selling in brick and mortar stores to selling virtually and it helped them move through the first few slow months.
Challenge #2 – Lack of Responses from Targeted Leads
Before you make the actual sale, you have to get through to the right decision-makers. That’s difficult enough in standard times, but the pandemic made it go on hard mode. Managers and directors may not be responding, no matter how many times you reach out and which channels you use.
There are things that you can do, though. The first one is to show your target audience that you understand and adjust your messaging. Make sure that your emails, home page copy and social media reflect that you understand the new reality of business and that you realize that your customers are struggling just like you may be.
The second thing you could do is personalize your communications. If you do email outreach, try to write more of your emails by hand instead of blasting canned messages to lists built before the pandemic. Go narrow with your targeting and adjust your messaging. For example, we do not send the same emails these days to freelancers, small business owners, and mid-sized companies. All of them have been affected by the pandemic in different ways and they all need different types of content to move them further to a sale.
Challenge #3 – Cancelled Events
Many sales professionals depend on fairs, expos, conferences, seminars and other types of events to make more sales. Remote selling is flourishing, but for some industries, the sale is always made behind a table and not a computer screen. The pandemic caused a major halt in travel and all types of events.
One thing that you have to account for is that events cost money and that the biggest loser in this situation are those in the hospitality industry. For everyone else attending, not being present at an event also means one more thing – extra space in their budget. Attending any type of event costs quite a bit of money and you can use that opportunity to sell.
You can try and organize an online event with the same topic on your own or attend virtual events that other businesses run. Moreover, you can directly ask them to come to your event since they can’t attend in person.
Challenge #4 – Not Getting Enough Leads From Your Usual Marketing Methods
You probably have a list of your favorite marketing tactics that bring you sales qualified leads. The pandemic has changed many things, including the reach on social media ads, the keyword trends for organic traffic, the cost per click for Google ads and much more. Relying on the same tactics that worked before March 2020 is just not a good idea in this time.
There are two paths you can go by: trying out a new marketing approach or doubling down on what worked for you before the coronavirus. I would strongly suggest going for option #2 for one simple reason. This is not a good time to be experimenting with a novel marketing method and expect new leads to flock in.
For example, we started with content marketing fairly recently and one thing that we noticed is that the pandemic changed what people were searching for and how much they search for it. We chose to focus our efforts on PPC advertising because we had excelled in that area previously. We chose to focus our efforts on adapting our PPC plan to new changes rather than on SEO or organic traffic since PPC can bring results more quickly. With the lower cost per click, we were able to maintain the amount of new business and even get some more customers than usual.
While none of us has an answer to how long this pandemic will last, one thing is certain – we have to adapt our sales processes or watch our businesses decline. The good news is that every setback is a chance to explore new ways to make a sale.