Sales and Marketing Peer Networking

Sales and Marketing Peer Networking Recap

How are you handling contacting potential new customers or cold calling? 

  • One company has put cold calling on hold. They feel it could be intrusive to be cold calling people when they are trying to get day to day things done.
  • Another company has focused its attention on social media channels such as LinkedIn and reaching out to people on those platforms instead of cold calling. When they rebound out of this, they will need a pipeline of people to talk to.
  • A different company has put on a holding pattern for cold calling and is focusing on new projects that actively address COVID 19 problems, such as N95 masks. They had a pollution mask already in development for India & Asia for children, addressing pollution issues so now swapping the pollution filter for an N95 filter.
  • A fourth company is focusing on its existing customers and outstanding quotes, like chasing down those to find out if they are still valid rather than cold calling new customers. To them, it feels intrusive and no one is looking for new vendors anyway.

How have your marketing efforts pivoted in the last few weeks?

  • One company has focused their messaging on the recruiting side more than anything because they are still hiring and managing labor. They’re taking the message and getting it out there in the community about how they are helping during the pandemic. It’s focused on recruiting employees but also shows a great message to potential customers.
  • Another company is focusing its messaging about what special programs they are doing to protect employees, encourage social distancing, taking mandatory temp. testing multiple times per shift. It’s a balance. Messaging about what we are doing as a company to stay within CDC guidelines and above and beyond, as well as supporting the community is important. In addition, they have had a sense of empathy in all our posts, thanking customers and employees for their dedication and trust in us. Everyone is safe and taken care of. They transitioned from the sales side of marketing to a more checking-in and empathic marketing.
  • A different company is helping its sales team stay connected with customers since they can’t get out and see everyone. They are trying to facilitate educational opportunities that would be helpful to them right now, such as a webinar series free and open to everyone.
  • A fourth company is focusing on the block and tackling that they never feel they have time to do, but now they do. They are looking at the internals because customers don’t have time to talk now.

What are some best practices for leveraging our company's "Essential Business" status and securing new customers? Simply, how is being classified as an "Essential Business" impacting business?

  • One company sent out broadcast emails and blog posts to let customers know they are open for business.
  • A company that is considered essential is doing trackers on customers and when their shutdowns are and where the supply chain is right now. As so many businesses are shutting down, you must focus on how to effectively communicate within the market and with employees that have concerns/questions.
  • A third company has talked to the press, written press releases, and done some FB live events. They are using the same language to get people to understand.
  • A fourth company says communication is key right now especially internally. Customers know we are open, but employees don’t always understand. Recording videos of the CEO and GM talking to the team, face-to-face discussions with HR, and presentations on screens in plants are all good ways to communicate. It could also be helpful to explain why they are essential and describe what the parts are used for in order to increase buy-in from employees.
  • A different company has contacted customers individually explaining why they are open and if you need more capacity, they can support you. They are focused on helping current customers and not on new customers. All letters to employees, posting and press releases are routed through on person. Consistency is super important right now, make sure one person is seeing all the communication, so it is streamlined, and everyone is seeing the same message every time.

What are other companies seeing regarding sales forecast projections balance of year outside of Auto/Med Industries?

  • One company is doing its best to look at forecasting, but things are changing day-to-day right now, encouraging them to communicate with the end customer as much as possible.
  • A second company put a spreadsheet together with their major accounts, if they are open or closed, and when they are closed. They are checking on it weekly via email and phone. From a reporting standpoint, salespeople must focus projections for where they will land in April, May, June with best “guestimates” based on those major accounts.
  • A third company is utilizing OESA for those in automotive to bring in people like IHS & LMC to put out a forecast. Ultimately, if you are reporting numbers outside your organization to boards or banks, you want to have some backup sources/data so you’re not explaining why you are just guessing.  It’s better if you can say you have these two firms giving you those numbers. They are also rolling a 13-week sales forecast, but the problem is when there are shocks to the system, those who are forecasting don’t always do a good job of eliminating data because they don’t think they’ll be impacted later on, so the data might not be as accurate several weeks from now.
  • A fourth company is using MRD reports and looking at those each week, but some of it is still just verbal communication and email.
  • A different company is stratifying their customers, the top 10 or so, to see how they are in terms of market outlook. Look at what’s driving your top percentage of sales, and if you need to give up marketing and prospecting to stay on top of that, that’s ok.

Are there methods others are using to continue finding and reaching out to new prospects despite trade shows being postponed?

  • One company is going back to previous prospects from tradeshows that they didn’t hear from or lost touch with. Feels somewhat insensitive to be cold calling.
  • Another company says the best message is “hey I want you to know we are open, we here, we have capacity if you need something” so it is more supportive rather than selling to them.
  • A third company has pivoted from marketing to everyone to a sales initiative targeting market-specific customers or a specific industry. Use LinkedIn and resources to get the contacts and get to them directly. Remember the 7 touches marketing concept, you need to contact them multiple times.
  • One salesperson sometimes has to send an email 2 or 3 times to get to the “right person”. You must be patient. It’s a good idea to send emails at odd times such as weekends, early morning, late morning, finding people at a different mindset. Make it a soft message, not a hard sell.
  • Another company is only sending out very soft messaging and more about creating a connection. A lot are also working remotely, and we are human beings and want to interact with people. Be sure to ask them how they are doing, not even directly about business all the time.
  • Several companies mentioned how their response percentages have increased a lot in the past few weeks. This might be due to everyone having more time on their hands from working at home. Now would be a great time to follow up about quotes and such to get back into it when the stay-at-home orders have been lifted.

How have other companies utilized their remote sales staff?

  • One company is doing a lot of GotoMeeting and Zoom.
  • Another company started working from home early on in the process crisis and had an issue with the people that stayed in the office. They ended up putting notices on everyone’s door that is working from home with their phone number on it so people know they can reach out and they are available.
  • A third company has implemented Slack (instant messaging service, upload files, share status, channels for dept.) right when people started working from home. Slower roll out to get people used to using the technology. The service is free and has been valuable so far. They set up channels for each department so people feel comfortable reaching out to those not on-site and know who’s available and when.
  • A fourth company migrated from GotoMeeting to Teams which comes with Office 365. Most of their web-based meetings are on Teams. Microsoft Teams also integrates with your Outlook calendar. There has been a bit of a low level of acceptance. No one likes to turn on their video camera, and if you want to connect with people, it’s the best way to do it. When everyone is on the video, it makes a bigger difference.
  • A different company uses a product called Meeting Owl which does a great job of helping you connect with people in a conference room. Not good for a bunch of people in different places, but good for conference room and your remote employees, and for company & customer-facing meetings.

To listen to the whole conversation, click here.