Once you’ve made it through the initial Triage phase and had time to Assess your teams and processes, you should have enough information to Reposition your approach in a way that keeps the lead gen and sales engine alive while protecting your customer base and your brand.
It’s important to consider that new customer decisions may not come at the rate you are used to or in line with original new bookings targets. When this is the case, contemplate pipeline growth and milestones as alternative metrics to keep the organization focused and motivated. But the mindset across the board should be: how do we move from a defensive position to an offensive position?
It’s also important to mobilize a cross-functional team to identify ways in which your solution and your approaches to Sales, Marketing and Customer Success might evolve with time to address newly exposed customer challenges and opportunities.
Phase 3 – Reposition
- If your traditional source of lead gen, such as trade shows, is out of commission for a while, what creative ways of reaching prospects can you develop? Is it time to shift budget to digital methods like webinars, podcasts, video and retargeting, or to consider new audiences like influencers?
- Are there additional personas inside your customer’s Buying Team that have otherwise been under engaged, but need to be educated and aligned around the decision? If so, how can you best pursue them through new targeted marketing programs?
- What content can you produce to answer your customer’s most pressing concerns or questions? Are there conversations or activities like webinars being held for current customers that you can repurpose for sales enablement? If your teams have extra time on their hands during a downturn, can you work ahead and create great content for use when things pick up again?
What new personas have emerged inside your customer’s buying team who you can educate through targeted marketing?
- If new customer decisions are indeed hard to come by, are there sales team incentives you can create for alternative metrics, such as pipeline creation, proof of concepts delivered or virtual meetings held?
- For SDRs, ideas we’ve heard include weekly contests for new Leads added to your CRM, database clean up of bounced of invalid email addresses, or “No Decision” leads resuscitated.
- For Account Executives, ideas include discovery/mapping calls, number of executive buyers reached in a live conversation to confirm their decision making processes, or other softer relationship building exercises to the entire Buying Team of a prospect.
- Can you engage each member of the Buying Team to understand how the current economic situation is impacting their role and their company as a whole? Do you need to move up the organization and engage more senior decision makers? How can you become better informed to position your product to an individual buyer, and, more importantly how, that information comes together to support the entire Buying Team?
- By now, hopefully your feedback loop with Marketing and Customer Success has revealed some valuable insight into how existing customers are leveraging your product in the current challenging climate. Can you leverage these new use cases to educate the Buying Team on additional ROI they were not aware of?
Are there new uses cases for your product that you can leverage to show potential ROI?
- What are your customer success managers doing on a daily basis and what can they do differently to demonstrate empathy, a commitment to supporting clients through a challenging time, and follow up action?
- Does your customer expansion sales strategy have a clear focus on revenue expansion or is it competing with customer retention and triage priorities? Is it possible to bifurcate these areas?
- How should you adjust KPIs to reflect your updated definition of success? Are you collecting stories of how you helped customers weather the downturn and thinking about how you’ll celebrate those wins internally, as well as alongside the client externally, later on?
Are you collecting stories of how you helped customers weather the downturn?
Here’s the bottom line.
There is no perfect answer to how marketing, sales and customer success teams should handle the multitude of challenges presented in an economic downturn. Companies need to consider the specific impact on their market, customer base and own financial health, decide what path is right for them, and likely make adjustments along the way.
We hope you found this a helpful roadmap of questions to ask yourself to get started. LLR is working virtually like everyone else and our “door” is always open to share what we’re seeing right now help businesses brainstorm creative solutions.
Insights for this post compiled from Eric Nelson and John Spiliotis, Sales Advisors to LLR portfolio companies; Michael Sala, Managing Director of Origination at LLR; and Kristy DelMuto, Vice President of Strategic Marketing at LLR.