The beginning of the year was not kind to entrepreneurs. Virtually everyone, be it the owner of a large company or a self-employed person, has suffered to a greater or lesser slowed sales development during the pandemic.
In mid-February, our company started a new project when the first information about the epidemic in China was available, but like any other company, we did not expect such an expansion of the virus. We have pre-selected approximately 85 potential clients from 7 different industries in our country. In a short period of time of the project, we thoroughly verified 30% of companies from the entire pool, 20% of these companies showed interest in the solution and willingly held talks on this topic.
Unfortunately, the situation in the world has deteriorated significantly, the companies we talked to had to completely change their business models and, if possible, switch to the home office. It resulted in a large number of cases of terminating conversations or postponing them for at least 3 months. Despite the difficulties, we systematically reached new companies, adapted the strategy and UVP (Unique Value Proposition) to the aggressive change that occurred on the market. We were able to select a new group of potential clients who were also adapting to the new conditions.
During all these conversations, attempts to reach decision-makers, we noticed several things that negatively affect the operation of companies and establishing cooperation.
- If we contact a lower-level employee and providing information to a decision-maker is not in his interest – in the vast majority of cases, he does not do it.
- If we talk to people interested in the solution and the benefits it can bring – customers often do not admit that they do not understand the product. If at this stage we do not explain everything thoroughly to them, they will most likely give up at the beginning or will postpone the topic indefinitely.
- In large corporations, employees are not in the habit of responding to a phrase, such as: “please contact the other person(s) who makes the decision on this matter”.
- Internal communication in companies is unfortunately often at a very low level – employees focus only on their tasks, they don’t have a strong bond with the company, which means they don’t get involved in things, not on their list of tasks, e.g. passing information to a potentially interested person.
How to deal with the above difficulties?
- Market research – we should thoroughly screen our potential customers. What is more, each company boasts about its achievements and the steps taken for marketing purposes, interviews are also given. Social media are a mine of knowledge that should be used well.
- You should carefully check UVP and which departments it is directed to. Taking this into account, we significantly reduce the scope of searching for a decision-maker, even by contacting a lower-level employee, but in the appropriate department, there is a much greater chance that he will provide information to his supervisor.
- We cannot rely on only one form of contact, if the first contact does not bring results, we should choose another form, e.g. e-mail address, telephone number.
- If we are in contact with a decision-maker and we have carried out good market research, we can conduct a conversation knowing the current events that have been happening involving out potential client – it gives us the advantage because we can prepare ourselves based on the collected information.
An example of selling a customer’s product
In the beginning, we addressed this product to the “A” department, because this is what our client told us about UVP, but it quickly turned out that it is best to direct the product to the “B” department, which significantly increased the positive response by 30%. These were mainly corporations where people from many departments have to come together to agree on details (customer expectations), so we could present an offer.
Theoretically, while employees worked at the home office, it should be simple – nothing could be further from the truth. Unfortunately, the exchange of information and the speed with which it occurs is slower by at least 60%.
The new normality has its advantages, which are appreciated by employees and employers – more time spent at home, or lack of traffic jams on the way to work is a nice change, but it drastically affects the efficiency of performing tasks, which in turn translates into a tense atmosphere between employees, delays in making decisions – which means that a company can lose its competitive advantage.
Our company has also experienced the negative effects of the pandemic. However, we do not break down, because you can get a positive out of every situation. In our case, this is for example a significant increase in customer acquisition from the inbound channel – 70% up. Not only that, but this also is not just about start-ups! Large companies also want their products to be in the area we support. All events from all over the world also proved to be a great plus – now completely online, which significantly increases our cognitive capabilities, as well as knowledge about problems faced by individual markets.
It turns out that the sales development during the pandemic the pandemic is possible.
Our company is becoming more and more recognizable on the international arena, thanks to the attractiveness of our country, as well as the part of Europe in which we are located. Development and business opportunities are also growing – new contacts, building relationships, contracts, or establishing cooperation, these things give us additional motivation to give even more – even in such hard times.
It is thanks to this that we can continue to build customer confidence and implement further projects for them.
Photos: Miikka Luotio, NeONBRAND, Karla Hernandez, Patrick Fore, NASA