Reaching and Persuading Buyers at a Time of Crisis: What B2B CMOs Can Do?

Not long ago, major conferences were planned. Your marketing material was ready. The executives most engaged in his company were hired to give lectures or speak on panels.

Now, almost everything that makes buyers easier to see has changed.

Conferences are being canceled and face-to-face meetings are becoming less and less possible.

How are we going to sell if buyers are working remotely and have changed their minds?

Challenge: B2B sales often depend on contact between the seller and a team of buyers

It will probably be impossible to place the purchasing team in a room where your bestsellers can resolve disagreements and overcome objections.

Virtual meetings are an option. But a charismatic sales manager’s ‘star power will diminish if he doesn’t meet in person.

Challenge: What worked in the last quarter may not work during this time

The world has changed, perhaps not permanently, but certainly at the end of 2020.

Buyers will have new reasons for not buying, and many of these reasons are perfectly legal and difficult to dispute.

  • On the one hand, buyers concerned with the supply chain may have proactively uploaded their stocks. How are you going to sell to people who think they already have what they need?
  • On the other hand, less proactive buyers will be increasingly concerned. They need guarantees for the delivery of their business and the more their supply chain depends on their supply chain, the more guarantees they need.

Your sales team will also need to be prepared to face problems and obstacles that they never encountered. New questions arise about health and safety, logistics, integration, billing conditions, and more.

Make sure you work directly and continuously with salespeople, as they have the best insight into what potential customers are asking right now.

Add your general counsel and operations manager to make sure the responses you give to potential customers are as accurate as possible and don’t promise much.

Challenge: participants run while waiting

Your smartest competitors don’t sit and do nothing. They will work hard to find new sales opportunities and their current customers will be one of their main targets.

Potential customers who have not yet purchased a solution are likely to be bombarded with virtual sales. Your marketing will have to eliminate more junk than ever, especially when there is an economic downturn.

Stay focused on value and don’t just rely on price to save.

Regardless of how you set the price, you will still need to create a roadmap/marketing and sales story that shows why it makes sense to continue shopping in this unique environment and why it makes sense to buy now.

This story must be simple and clear and must meet three critical criteria:

  1. It must be true.
  2. It must be supported by evidence.
  3. You must promise more than your competitors promise.

Also, the story needs to be powerful enough for buyers/influencers to sell it to management, especially if they can’t have a face-to-face meeting to discuss it.

Clarity – about value, price, overcoming objections, why to buy now – is the critical success factor for marketing and sales in this environment.

What can you do now?

The disruption of the “sales chain” and the slowness of the buyer demand a clear and focused response. To start…

  1. Think like a reluctant buyer, not a hungry seller

Solve internal concerns and considerations and see everything through the buyer’s lens. Work with colleagues or partners to suggest new concerns that your buyers might raise, the new purchase criteria they are using, the new risks (and opportunities) they face. Think about how it will affect the sales process and how you can help the buyer and the sales team navigate this new world.

As a CMO, it’s up to you to understand the customer and facilitate their purchases. It has never been more important to remember.

  1. Audit and update your marketing materials

Use what you say in no. 1 above and review your messages and marketing materials. Highlight the points you need to add responses to new objections, unclear messages, and inappropriate language in the current environment. If its value is unclear to a purchasing team, it will not buy.

  1. Assign priorities

  • Create or update all chat rooms and battle maps. Prepare your sales team to respond to the new pressures that your buyers are facing. This is more important than ever when meetings tend to be more virtual.
  • Rethink or revise your main sales offer. It reflects each new message, dealing with objections, identifying opportunities, value propositions, new calculators, etc.
  • Rethink or review case studies. Research to show how your customers have helped to deal with uncertainty, highlight the strengths of key processes and workflows and increase clarity about what value has been delivered and what unique qualities have enabled the customer to succeed.
  1. Communicate with the marketing, sales, and management team

Make sure you don’t sit on your hands and wait for it to pass. Put it on your schedule, share scenarios, and ask what else you can or should do to get things going.

Conclusion

We ended with one of our favorite quotes from tennis champion Arthur Ashe: “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can”.