As we’ve mentioned earlier, business owners are eager to get some action, but not because they have no fear — they’re pushed by necessity and stress of ensuring their company’s existence. They have employees to take care of, clients to retain and support…in other words, they carry a lot on their shoulders.
So, when building your outreach, you should be extra careful about how and why you reach out to them. Even sales techniques that used to be quite tame may be considered impolite and end up in pushing your prospects away. Therefore, you’ll risk coming off as a douchebag — even though that never was your intention.
Your relationship with your existing clients is also not safe from the effects of the pandemic. Churn rate is the issue every B2B sales agency is currently dealing with — and we’re not an exception. However, you still need to close deals and generate new clients — and they still need a vendor. How do you get out of this without totally destroying your B2B connections?
We decided to share some of our experiences. Mind that dealing with sales objections is a never-ending quest. You always end up facing new challenges. The only right thing to do is to keep calm and go on.
Review your approach to cold outreach
Cold outreach has always been about sending emails to the people who don’t know about you yet. However, during this time it’s also about sending emails to the people who don’t want to know you — not because they averse to new faces, but because they are afraid of distractions. If they don’t get the value of your offer, you will be treated as a distraction and discarded.
In order to avoid it, you have to change your cold outreach practices. In our case, we had to put a lot of our basic introduction templates on hold because the question “Hello name, do you have the capacity for new clients?” sounds a bit insensitive right now. We also had to slow down with our outreach campaigns in general — it’s better to pause and wait rather than send emails without being certain about the recipient’s mood.
How do you make your cold outreach policy less tone-deaf?
Monitor market shifts. When in doubt, do some research. Still in doubt? Do more research. You cannot know or even guess what your prospects are thinking about right now without a proper analysis of the markets you sell to. Has their growth reduced? How active are their platforms for hiring new staff? What does their public data say about their income? That data can tell you a lot about how your potential buyers feel right now — and let you know how to reassure them during their hard times.
Use gathered data to change your templates. Work on your emails while you’re waiting for the return of normalcy. Even after the chaos dies down a little, your prospects will still need to adjust to the new normal. Let them know that you understand that. It’s always good to begin your introduction templates by asking your prospects about how they’re doing right now and showing your knowledge about the situation right now. That will show your recipients that you’re not out of touch and, therefore, really want to help them.
Include your hands-on experience. Businesses who display confidence and are ready to navigate their clients through hard times will always be the leaders in the industry. When you’re rebuilding your outreach, it’s important to assert yourself as someone who knows what to do. It doesn’t mean that you have to make yourself look like you conquered the pandemic. Instead, you can mention that you have the experience of working with businesses during shaky, unstable times. Offer to include a couple of cases or discuss them over a call — or mention clients you’re working with right now and show how much progress they’ve made with your assistance during this time. As long as your prospects see that you’re more than a random salesperson in a desperate search, they are open to your offer.
Let your prospects know that they can opt-out. Apologizing too much for disturbing your recipients is not always a good thing, but in times of turmoil and uncertainty, you might want to state your peaceful intentions as clearly as possible. Your prospects are quite likely to feel threatened by the intensity of the cadence or follow-ups. Therefore, your introduction email should inform your prospective buyers that if they don’t want to talk right now, it’s alright. You can do it with a single phrase.
“If you’re currently not interested in this conversation, please let us know”
“Would you be interested in continuing this conversation? If no, please send us “no”, so we could adjust our sending list and calling schedule accordingly.
“If this not the right time, please let us know”
While it may look like you’re backing out from the sales conversation, your stressed-out prospects will appreciate your concern and be more interested in working with someone who listens to them instead of pushing a sales offer.
Deal with your customers
Maintaining a healthy relationship with your current customer base is also quite a challenge. Yet, it’s vital to your profits. You may find your long-term clients backing out due to crisis and it feels world-shattering. However, the way you respond to it will define whether your customers return to you after it all ends.
So, how do you retain clients who are about to leave?
Offer to look for solutions together. If your loyal customers decide to put your business relationship on hold, that doesn’t mean it’s an easy decision to make for them. They’re worried about the uncertainty and the safety of their funds, so they’re looking for the best way to protect themselves. So, they may not be open to renewing your service package for the next month, but they are definitely open to suggestions. If you are their trusted, long-time vendor, they won’t mind your insights — as long as you show that you care about their well-being. So, instead of instantly persuading your clients to stay, offer them to talk about their fears and concerns. Be open about your company’s struggles as well. Your message shouldn’t say: “You need me.” Instead, it should say: “We need each other.” If you have been preparing for such a situation in advance, discuss your anti-crisis plans with the client as well. When your customers see that you plan ahead and there is a place for them in your plans, it’s an ultimate trust booster.
Let it go. Sometimes, you can’t persuade your customers to stay. You simply have to accept it. No “are you sure?” emails, no desperate freebies, no fearmongering. Just no. No company has ever managed to secure clients by acting like an angry ex. Instead of pressuring them to reconsider their decision and calling them every day, let them do what they consider the best for their business. It doesn’t mean that you should just disappear from their life. Not at all.
As you and your client part ways, you can:
Ask if you still can send them useful materials or case studies once in a while.
Offer a free consultation whenever it’s needed.
Invite your clients to be a part of a testing group (if you’re launching a new product or service)
This way, you will give your customers a reason to come back to you once they manage to take care of their funds and stabilize their situation. Staying on top of your clients’ minds and being useful — those are the keys to helping your B2B relationships emerge in spite of any crisis.
Don’t abandon clients who are in trouble
Right now, every B2B company’s database has clients that got hit particularly hard. They miss the payment due to budget problems, they’re frustrated and they anticipate getting emails or calls from you. What should you do about such customers? While some agencies prefer to abandon them due to lack of profit or pressure them into paying for this month, this is definitely not the way to go. Of course, you have a lot on your plate. But being insensitive to the one client may impact your future B2B relationships. Quite a few companies would feel safe entrusting their projects to the vendor who would leave them hanging as soon as there is trouble.
Contact your struggling clients. Let your customers know that you’re not here to shame them into paying. Ask them how bad things are and what they need right now. Let them vent about their problems and make it clear that you understand why they can’t pay right now. Offer them to work things out together. The way of solving problems depends on the specifics of your client’s business, so it’s something you can figure out when talking in person.
Always leave the door open. Things change all the time. Nobody is safe from it. This is the message you should be conveying throughout your email campaigns. Whether your clients stay with you, whether they leave and come back later, they’ll know that your support will remain unchanged.
We hope that this article gave you some food for thought and that your relationship with your customers is strong and steady. In case you need some more tips, you can contact our team. If you need more content, it only takes one click to become our subscriber.