August 19, 2020 | Go-To-Market

Selling in the New Normal: 3 Elements That Will Change Plus 3 That Won’t

Jim Wilson

Written by

Jim Wilson

Selling in the New Normal: 3 Elements That Will Change Plus 3 That Won’t
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

We’re months into this pandemic and — as other executives like Hubspot’s Brian Halligan have noted — it’s clear that a seismic shift has taken place across every element of our world.

As we get through the current wave, companies are using this time to plan for executing fully remote or hybrid remote/office environments. Sales teams need to do the same. So how will you build a next-generation sales team that’s positioned for a hybrid, work from anywhere environment? It starts by knowing what won’t change — and what will.

Pristine sales hygiene matters more than ever

Businesses must continue building out their go-to-market teams and sales will still have an integral role. Automation and data enrichment tools will continue to have value in the sales cycle. Broadly speaking, sales teams will succeed when they remember that good sales hygiene is timeless. Knowing the product, buyer personas, and market will always be fundamental.

Customers will buy based on value, just as they always have

No matter what, all companies are clear that they have to create a better customer experience, save money, or generate new revenue. In a tough economy, the bar is going to be even higher for sales teams to prove that your product or service can help them do that. Relationships are going to matter more than ever; this is the perfect time to deepen yours. Check in with your customers regularly to listen and see what their pain points look like at this moment. 

If you’re prospecting, this is an optimal time to really go deep to understand potential customers. Spend the time where it counts: Instagram and Twitter for social media; LinkedIn news feed; and Discover.org for account intelligence. Other sources — like Crunchbase, Glassdoor, and G2 Crowd — can be useful too.

Qualifying deals still matters

You still need to figure out how real a potential deal could be by asking the right questions:

  • How big is this problem today?
  • How do you address it today?
  • Who owns solving this problem?

One point for early-stage companies: differentiation will be really key in an environment where dollars are tighter and the approval cycles more complex. Understand that enterprise customers will feel warier about young companies (i.e., “Can you really deliver?”) so address those concerns head on.

Virtual is the new black

The pandemic has taught companies that in-person meetings aren’t as necessary as they used to be. The default is now virtual; the bar for what necessitates a physical meeting is now much, much higher. One positive? The cost of sales will decrease with less travel on the books. One challenge? The pressure is on to make better connections virtually; the usual go-tos to build customer intimacy are off the table. 

Zoom is not the only answer. Look to strengthen relationships through demonstrating deep knowledge of the company and industry. You’ll need a rock-solid understanding of a day in the life of your buyer, whether it’s tools they use, KPIs, metrics for success. 

Land and expand is the new reality

Right now, many customers are trying to preserve cash flow and position for success in the toughest economy we’ve experienced in over a decade. Big deals will be fewer and farther in between. Recalibrate your expectations to a new reality: smaller deals that open the door to continued business. Your goal is to land the business — and then work closely with your customers  to ensure their  satisfaction and usage of your product remains high. Quick wins will build credibility and earn you more over time.

While you’re in the sales process, consider lighter touch, higher frequency check-ins. A patient nurture campaign can yield optimal results. Don’t be afraid to switch gears. Our portfolio company, Roadster, used to rely on onsite visits with deep integrations. Now they’re focused on virtual meetings with fewer integrations but faster usage. They’ve seen great results. 

Explore multiple routes to market

Multiple roads can help you get to your intended target, including demonstrated depth of knowledge. Pre-COVID, the focus might have been on creating as much content as possible; now I’m seeing companies adopt a ‘quality over quantity, less is more’ approach to great effect. Security platform Bugcrowd, another portfolio company of ours, created “Inside the Mind of a Hacker” to showcase their real expertise in a compelling way.

More self-service is another way to appeal to your customer. Product demos, new releases, how-to videos can be very valuable ways to demonstrate ease of use and differentiators to current customers and prospects alike. 

Of course, tried-and-true methods like establishing a powerful channel practice are also worth revisiting.

The pandemic has reinforced that humans are nothing if not resilient and adaptable to change. For the sales teams that are looking to achieve results in a work from anywhere world, that adaptability will be key to success.

In sales? Share what you’re seeing on the ground.