Pipeline Survey, 70% of respondents anticipate at least 20% decline in pipeline
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has created the most disruptive business environment of our lifetime. The speed in which the anticipated impact came to fruition was startling and sudden .
Over the course of four weeks (March 5 to April 2), pipelines increasingly worsened for sales and marketing organizations as buyers took less meetings.
During that month, confidence in future pipeline progressively eroded for sales and marketing organizations as well.
Organizations have realized that their Q2 pipeline is going to take a hit. Seventy-two percent of respondents to TOPO’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impact survey anticipate at least a 20% decrease. Thirty percent of respondents anticipate a pipeline shortfall of over 40%.
Organizations are now urgently revising business plans and forecasts in the face of this crisis. As these plans come together, this unexpected disruption has created a new set of strategic considerations for sales and marketing.
Here are five strategic sales and marketing imperatives that B2B organizations have to be prepared to make.
- Re-analyze Your Target Market – Major portions of the economy are significantly impacted, forcing a re-evaluation of your target market, target accounts, and Ideal Customer Profile. Shelve suffering business segments and apply resources to healthy ones.
For example, you would remove industries and geographies that are no longer viable business targets (e.g., travel vertical, Italy) and accounts with weak balance sheets from the target account list.
- Re-allocate Resources to High-value Segments – The difference between high-value and low-value segments will be extremely wide as buying activity drops to nearly zero in some segments. Move resources such as people and spend to focus on high-value market segments and remove resources partially or completely from low-value segments.
For example, you would increase investment on expansion revenue at existing customers versus net-new logo acquisition; re-allocate investment from travel and hospitality verticals to healthcare and CPG verticals; or reduce broad demand generation investment and re-allocate to enterprise, vertical, and target account initiatives.
- Offer Extreme Value with Every Customer Interaction – Engagement levels across the entire customer lifecycle are plummeting. Delivering extreme value at every touchpoint is critical to maintaining and increasing conversion rates. Buyers’ priorities and challenges have changed in a matter of weeks and as a result, personas and messaging will need significant changes in order to continue to deliver extreme value to customers and prospects.
For example, you would revise digital experiences to reflect buyers’ current priorities and challenges; proactively provide insights into how relevant peers are managing change in today’s environment; or remodel sales process to provide more subject matter expertise on change management.
- Change Marketing and Sales Tactics – Many proven tactics are no longer possible or effective in today’s environment. All sales and marketing tactics must be reviewed—many changed or even eliminated—in order to effectively reach and engage buyers today. Many of the optimized processes that have been refined over time such as milestone definitions will have to be re-examined.
For example, you would change touch patterns from 15 touches to 9 and emphasize personalized messaging; replace direct mail with e-gifts in outbound touch patterns; or re-allocate spend from event and field marketing to digital marketing.
- Re-design Your Organization for the New Environment – To execute the change management required, new personnel and skill sets may be required. This reality does not mean that employees need to be fired but they can be re-allocated into the right roles.
For example, you would repurpose internal subject matter experts to engage with more customers; identify sales leaders with experience selling in a down market; increase digital marketing capacity through cross-training, select hires, or agency/contractor relationships; or identify and enable competencies required for new sales plays.
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