As we emerge from the Covid-19 shut-down, it’s clear that the new normal will be very different. How we work together will be physically different. How we connect with people within our companies will be different. And how we connect with customers (and prospects) will be even more different.
It’s not enough to be in contact with customers.
You have to find new ways to connect with them, and with new prospects.
Marketing managers, brand and product managers, and sales managers are coming to understand that selling will require new skills and new tools in order to deal with the difficulties created by the new working environment. Even when the crisis subsides, it will remain difficult to arrange in-person meetings, because so many people seem likely to continue working from home.
Selling will be different, and will require new skills and new tools.
All companies with field salesforces are finding face-to-face selling opportunities much more difficult to arrange and much less frequent. Can you imagine the challenges pharma companies face, with their large sales staffs accustomed to visiting doctors’ offices in person? They find themselves shut out as the doctors practice social distancing. How can they create a connection without being directly in front of their audience?
Traditional direct selling efforts have been built around personal relationships and face-to-face conversations. The relationships will remain crucial, but they’ll need help in adapting to the Post-Covid landscape. That’s making marketing communications even more important.
All of this is making marketing communications even more important.
We’ve seen increasing use of e-mail programs, built around carefully-constructed series of messages — all designed to create a continuing connection with clients and even with new customer prospects.
Many companies are increasing e-mail impact by encouraging their sales staffs to post fifteen-second personal videos on their e-mails — using the personal touch to add a sense of connection. No big fuss, just personalizing the contact. (Yes, prospects will be nervous about opening a video file, but regular clients seem to enjoy the friendly contact.)
Highly-targeted direct mail programs, systematic e-mail programs, and company blogs are proving to be very effective tools.
Well-crafted direct mail campaigns are proving to be extraordinarily effective in delivering timely sales messages. We’re seeing a lot of highly-focused direct mail — where people are paying careful attention to selecting targets and personalizing their messages — so the recipients quickly see that the message is aimed directly at them. Those campaigns are getting the attention of existing customers as well as new prospects — raising their awareness of existing products and services, and alerting them to new offerings that might otherwise have been promoted by field sales forces.
And many companies are finding ways to add impact to their marketing promotions — by targeting a smaller audience with high-value packages that engage the recipients through an enhanced sense of touch and feel. This tactile experience creates a sense of connection that produces a dramatic increase in audience response.
Many companies are repurposing their blogs — to serve as more than just newsletters or product promotion sites. They’re using the blogs to show that they’re thinking of their clients, even though they’re physically separated. They show clients they’re still accessible and want to help in dealing with whatever issues may have arisen.
There’s also been an unexpected benefit from the new difficulties of less face-to-face selling. Companies are paying more careful attention to improving their sales messaging, and clarifying their entire selling process.
Many companies are paying more attention to improving their sales messaging, and clarifying their entire selling process.
In most companies, the selling process is completely personal — with each salesperson taking a unique approach. There’s no consistent messaging, and every salesperson does it their own way. Companies are finding that creating a well-thought-out selling message makes it more powerful and effective — because it’s clear and focused on the right things. That makes it easier to ensure the messaging is used consistently throughout the sales effort.
For sure, individual salespeople will adapt it to their own needs and personal styles, but it helps to provide a basic structure of key topics and the ways they’ll speak about them.
Dealing with the Covid crisis been difficult for everyone. But the companies that are focusing on their sales and marketing efforts are finding some surprising benefits. Maybe it’s a good time for you to take a deep breath and apply some fresh thinking to your company’s sales and marketing approach.
After all, as Winston Churchill said:
“A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”
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