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B2B Sales & Marketing Trends and Projections Amid COVID-19

Posted by IndustrySelect on Friday, October 2, 2020



So much has happened in 2020 that was unprecedented. Simply looking forward to 2021 has become a definite challenge.

The only way to get a handle on what to expect in sales and marketing next year is to study the data from this year, especially during COVID-19, and project using the most likely scenarios. For this piece, let's assume that current COVID-19 restrictions will be in place throughout at least the first quarter of 2021.

Overall sales opportunities have drastically declined due in part to the inability to conduct normal business, arbitrary definitions of essential/non-essential industries and a reduction in demand across many sectors.

In fact, less than 22% of B2B sales providers reported an increase in business activity this year.

Clearly, this is a sub-optimal situation that requires the adoption of different strategies than the ones that have defined sales for decades.

Broadly speaking, these strategies are focused on remote and digital interaction.

Remote and Digital for the Foreseeable Future

Sales and marketing have, like many other industries, become far more digital in their interaction and execution.

Most recently, face-to-face meetings were replaced with Zoom, phone conferences and emails. Many employees who were given the option to work from home ended up referring to this and plan to continue if given the opportunity.

Additionally, at least 77% of companies are holding more virtual meetings due to COVID-19 recommendations.

This shift has forced the modification of how pitches and presentations are presented.

Digital presence means that travel and production of support materials are no longer required, which reduces the cost to acquire a client.

However, being able to read a room and detect subtle body language is more difficult when conducting a meeting online.

Practice will hone these skills over time, but there is a definite learning curve.

Social Media for Instant Credibility

Connecting with prospects has also changed. The use of social media to connect has risen dramatically in the months since lockdowns occurred.

LinkedIn noted a 55% increase in communications between contacts just during the month of April, and activity has continued to escalate.

This is significant for another very important reason. On social media, others can see a salesperson's knowledge, experience and connections immediately in their profile.

Someone with a strong background in manufacturing sales will have very high credibility when speaking to a company in that sector.

When 88% of people only buy from a salesperson they view as a “trusted advisor,” this credibility boost can go a long way towards making not just a sale but also a lasting relationship.

Virtual Trade Shows

Around the globe, trade shows have been canceled due to social distancing fears, leaving a massive void in one of the most popular ways of B2B interaction.

shift to virtual shows is underway with several events embracing a digital variant. A benefit is that attendance to virtual shows is limited only by bandwidth, whereas live events would often be subject to potential attendees being unable to work out travel or schedule issues, not to mention building occupancy regulations.

Additionally, the lack of building rental fees makes overall presentation costs lower for the event hosts, exhibitors and attendees. In fact, many virtual trade shows are offering reduced or free attendance to boost traffic.

For salespeople, this means that there are more opportunities to connect with prospects in a somewhat more laid back and private atmosphere than would be possible on the floor of an expo (not to mention the savings in not flying around the country to attend different trade shows).

Leveraging Email

Email marketing became the tool of choice for many sales professionals during COVID-19.

As a result, there was an 86% increase in the number of marketing emails sent, which bumped up click-throughs by 22%.

Related: 78 Email Marketing Statistics Every B2B Marketer Should Know

This sharp increase also means that there is a lot of noise for prospects to filter through.

Any email must be customized for the specific company and, in many cases, the individual that it is intended for.

Including video and interactive media to deliver useful information shows a prospect that you truly understand their industry challenges and are positioned to offer solutions. Additionally, email can be used to bolster relationships with existing clients.

If you've got a great campaign ready to go, make sure you're tapping into the right audience. An IndustrySelect subscription helps you build the most effective prospecting list possible. Access 500,000 industrial companies and one million executives and drill down to just the data you need using 40 specific types of criteria. Try a free demo today or learn more about what sales and marketing professionals are saying about IndustrySelect. 

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