COVID-19 has proven to be an economic pandemic as much as it’s a health epidemic. Due to its highly transmissible nature, social distancing, lockdowns, and curfews have become the new normal. With people forced to stay at home to curb its spread, industries have been affected, and many businesses forced to close down or operate at lower capacities.
However, the effect of COVID-19 on B2B and B2C enterprises seems to be disproportionate. Whereas B2C companies have greatly affected, the B2B space has displayed great resilience despite the uncertainty. Even still, B2B companies need to adapt to changing consumer behavior as well as capitalize on the opportunities that arise during the crisis.
Even as the pandemic subsides, its effects on consumer behavior and B2B selling will affect how B2B companies operate. As such, there is great urgency for organizations in the B2B space to adjust to the present circumstances swiftly as they will have a significant effect on B2B sales post-COVID.
In this article, you will find insight into how B2B businesses are responding to the pandemic and the B2B sales strategy you can use to come out on top.
Current Themes in the B2B Space
As businesses continue to adjust and adapt to the current market conditions, there are three main themes evident in the B2B sector. This is according to the findings from a Mckinsey survey of B2B businesses in seven sectors and 14 categories across 11 countries.
1. Shift in Spend
With the hard economic situation and uncertain times looming, it was expected that a notable decrease in spending would be observed across the board. However, a significant proportion of B2B enterprises (especially the large ones) are spending just as much or even more than they did before the pandemic.
2. Digital Switch
Though digitization among B2B organizations has been on an upward trend in the last few years, COVID-19 has accelerated this uptake. With travel bans and social distancing requirements, B2B sales teams are now reliant on digital tools to reach clients. This is why sales leaders now find digital channels two times as important as they did before.
3. Remote Selling
Out of necessity, B2B companies have quickly transitioned to remote selling to generate sales. At present, 90% of businesses are using video conferencing or phones to reach clients.
B2B Strategies to Beat the Pandemic
Adjusting to the present circumstances is not just about navigating past COVID-19, but also preparing for how it will shape the future of B2B selling.
1. Re-Connect With Your Customers
The effects of COVID-19 are not only limited to the B2B space. Some industries and businesses, possibly your clients, have affected far worse than you. As such, it is crucial to identify more conscious of their needs in these trying times and identify changes as they arise.
The empathetic approach should be evident in all your messaging materials. By doing so, you will be able to cultivate new and stronger bonds that will boost brand loyalty.
2. Re-Evaluate Your Value Proposition
An integral component of your B2B sales strategy at this time should be meeting your clients’ needs. Due to the prevailing conditions, their needs may evolve. Identify any real-time needs that are unmet and reposition your company to satisfy them.
For this, you will need to invest in digital tools to boost your data storage and processing capacity to gain actionable insight into consumer behavior and needs.
3. Develop New Sales Team Priorities
Before you unleash your sales team, it is essential to redefine your sales strategies and put more focus on high-value and growth opportunities. Throw out your old sales playbook and find innovative ways to generate leads. This could be from customer referrals and social media.
These efforts should be accompanied by new customer retention strategies as well as increased up-selling and cross-selling. A good way to supplement your efforts is to redefine your product bundles and offer new incentives and discounts.
4. Take Advantage of Programmatic Advertising
With the significant changes in B2B sales processes, the sales cycle is now longer than usual. Therefore, it is vital to invest more in ways to generate and cultivate leads. Programmatic advertising offers the perfect solution for this. Even though B2C businesses are cutting down on advertising spend, B2B companies have maintained the same level of advertising.
However, it may even be the right time to increase programmatic advertising. With people spending more time indoors, preliminary statistics indicated a 50-70% increase in internet usage. As such, digital ads now have a greater reach. Also, programmatic advertising offers a great platform to capitalize on new opportunities by pivoting your ad campaigns to address their real-time challenges.
5. Be Dynamic
At present, uncertainty seems to be the only certain thing in the entrepreneurial landscape. How you operate, reach out to clients, and interact with them, as well as the product bundles, has changed. These changes will continue piling up as both clients, and B2B companies adjust to evolving conditions.
As such, a rigid approach to doing business at this time is self-defeating. It is crucial to take up an agile method of doing business. This will ensure that you adapt to change swiftly and can capitalize on emerging opportunities. To achieve this, take a proactive approach to identify trends in the industry and how they can impact operations.
Think Long Term
The effects of COVID-19 have been far-reaching for businesses. In some sense, companies have to reinvent themselves to thrive. Though there are signs of the pandemic slowing down, it will take some time before people can resume life normally as a vaccine is yet to be developed.
However, for B2B companies, it is best to prepare for a new normal. Therefore, as you make adjustments to boost B2B sales during the pandemic, ensure your B2B sales strategy is long term.
Are you looking for strategies to help your B2B company scale? Ascent organizes conferences and events for SaaS and B2B leaders with talks from executives from the fastest growing companies. Sign up for our next virtual event to find out what’s going on in the world of B2B.