How COVID-19 has Changed the Way the IT B2B Sector Sources New Business Leads.
The years 2020/21 are without doubt the most consequential and transformational in recent memory: a global pandemic, economic turmoil impacting millions of people’s lives, and social and political unrest. The reverberations from these events affected businesses in profound ways, with many making a major shift in the way they manage their operations.
In the world of IT B2B, exhibitions, conferences and seminars used to contribute to a high proportion of leads and brand awareness, but with the pandemic, these “in-person” trade shows and events were cancelled, which has left the sales teams with a shortfall of inbound leads.
The Pandemic is Changing the Vendor/Prospect Relationship, Considerably
Before Covid: Relationships matter
Post Covid: Relationships are everything
In the first few months of the pandemic, faced with a virtual sales environment, teams with existing relationships have been able to maintain revenue momentum, capitalising on the strength of their prior bonds to up-sell and cross-sell their products.
Similarly for new business sales, Covid-19 has placed a new emphasis on relationships. Prospecting for brand new customers has required an evolved set of skills focused on empathy and selling solutions, rather than selling products, and on the telephone rather than face to face.
In every case, trust and integrity are fundamental to driving sales momentum, and longer-term customer loyalty.
Innovative, outsourced telephone-based lead generation services are now paving the way
As a lead generation company specialising in the IT sector, we have seen a transition in the way our clients are changing their marketing strategies to adapt to the new normal. For more than 10 years we have been providing telephone based, lead generation services to our IT clients. But we’ve seen a paradigm shift in how our customers are directing us to focus post pandemic.
This is, in part, due to the fact that people are even harder to get hold of because of working from home. In addition, IT departments are difficult to reach being extra busy dealing not only with pre-pandemic projects, but also being under increasing pressure to adapt internal systems to respond rapidly to post-pandemic demands on the business.
For sales and marketing leaders, this has necessitated a serious rethink to use outsourced services and utilise people experienced in developing relationships quickly with cold, new contacts. Outsourcing to an experienced lead generation supplier is proving to be the way to go for many organisations.
B2B Customers are Getting Hyper-segmented
Prospects expect more from the suppliers than in the past. Meaning it’s not just about the value proposition, buyers more than ever expect vendors to understand their business issues and offer solutions not just product. Companies want to partner with vendors that understand better their realities and can solve their most throbbing pain points.
We have seen our clients move away from broad campaigns to more specific, vertical campaigns with target personas. Our experienced callers are asked to focus first on the business pains before offering the value proposition. We are finding that use cases have become an important part of this to demonstrate expertise.
The importance of nurturing
In recent times, we’ve also noticed a subtle change in lead nurturing too. The sales team are generally interested in the here and now, those deals that are hot and will close within the shortest time. But maintaining a healthy pipeline of leads for the medium and long term is also becoming more of a focus. After all we’ve already done the hard bit by actually speaking to the prospect in the first place. Prior to the pandemic lead nurturing was generally handled by our clients, but of late our clients are asking us to manage this service, to ensure that cooler prospects are not forgotten but are kept in the frame until they are ready to buy.
It takes organisation and time to manage lead nurturing and is so often left to the marketing team to nurture using traditional techniques such as emails, Facebook etc. However, you will be far more successful if you use SDRs to perform this function. If you cannot manage it inhouse – outsource!
Making the most of personal communication with prospects has always been the cornerstone of qualified lead generation. However, since Covid, prospects’ traditional routes to suppliers have become much more limited. No longer can they attend conferences, exhibitions and similar events to obtain information regarding new vendor solutions. This has had a negative effect for both suppliers and end users.
Like us all, your prospects have had to accept significant changes in the way they find solutions to their business issues, as well as experiencing increased pressure with their own work loads. Their time is precious, as a result we are finding that focussing on target audiences that have the right profile for the solution being discussed resonates with these prospects and they are responding very well to intelligent telephone conversations from people that genuinely understand their business and are prepared to listen to their needs.
This approach is proving far more effective at generating genuine sales-qualified opportunities than other marketing activities.
If you don’t have, or can’t recruit, the resources in-house to generate net-new business or to capitalise on your marketing investment following up inbound leads, you should consider outsourcing to a specialist agency. You will see a significant return on your investment in relatively short timescales.
Read my blog: 4 Reasons Why Businesses Should Outsource their Lead Generation to find our more about the practical and financial benefits of outsourcing.
Alternatively, if you want to discuss your particular needs with us now, don’t hesitate to reach out.