Chaos Creates Opportunity: Old and New Ideas for Prospecting and Retention
Many of us have heard the phrase: “Chaos creates opportunity.”
More than a few industry sales professionals will agree that “chaos” adequately describes the pitfalls that COVID-19 has thrown at our industry in 2020, what with canceled orders, the screeching halt to in-person events, and an ever-rising stack of buyer layoffs, to name just a few. In short, we’re looking at a very uncertain future for months (potentially years) to come.
I believe the present circumstances (dire as they may seem) are currently exhibiting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for sales professionals who have the drive and the passion for this industry. This opportunity will benefit those who plan on remaining current, creative and comfortable during the unknown circumstances that arise due to the pandemic and other current macroeconomic issues. Sales professionals who are willing to invest the time to retain existing buyer relationships and finances will succeed. Sales professionals who generate campaigns that target new companies and buyers will have the opportunity to pick up significant market share during this time.
Conversely, those who wait for the economy to turn will fade away. It’s already happening.
Those who are driven, those who are creative and those who formulate a customer acquisition plan (and execute that plan) will not only survive—they will thrive. To add another longstanding cliché (albeit, a very useful one) to the mix, I believe sales professionals must learn how to roll with the punches in ways that are pivotal for growth and client retention during and after the COVID crisis. Make no mistake, this will not be easy in the midst of everything going on.
Consider old-school and new-school methods for your prospecting and client retention efforts:
Old-School Methods That Still Work
Those who are quick to embrace fun and interactive direct mail campaigns during the pandemic are enjoying the fruits of their creative labor. More time at home means more excitement when receiving an experience on your doorstep. Where we’ve seen success is through creative direct mail campaigns that blend personalized delivery and packaging with cohesive products that deliver an impactful message and experience.
Clients and prospects are also finding trust in (and holding fast to) proactive sales professionals who send out weekly emails that provide creative ideas, but who also respect their time. The simple displeasures of working from home (dogs, kids, loud Zoom calls, dirty dishes) can be an added distraction to one’s day-to-day work routine, so sales professionals are seeing the benefit of being less pushy and more invested. Treat your client like a friend you haven’t see in a while, rather than someone that needs to be sold something. To add to that, pick up the phone and give them a call just to check in!
Leverage New-School Resources
The benefits of utilizing technology during prospecting and retention efforts are astronomical. Identify potential buyers using LinkedIn—yes, LinkedIn. Take the time to research potential clients, their interests, their hobbies, their skillsets, their geographical region—all of that data is exceptionally valuable, and all of that data is free to you on LinkedIn. Find ways to look at your prospect or client as a human rather than a potential buyer, and then personalize your message to instill yourself as a friend and confidant.
Purchase a one-time list or subscribe to a subscription-based service to gain access to companies and valuable contact information outside your network. Use trending social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram to market your services in a way that is fun and engaging, and that tells a story. These days, people are bored. Stories sell!
The Long and Short of It
The most valuable trend I’m seeing is simple common sense, and it’s something our parents have told us since we were little. Ready for it? OK, here goes:
Don’t give up.
Companies, customers and clients may be resistant to spending right now, but it’s important to continue pursuing them with innovative, fun and creative ideas that will make you stand out. Push deeper, inspire them to get their creative juices flowing, and in time, you’ll reap all the rewards.
Pat is currently executive vice president of sales at Boundless. Prior to joining Boundless, Pat was vice president of sales for Toppers, a Top 20 industry supplier. Prior to Toppers, he served as vice president of national accounts for Norwood Promotional Products, one of the largest promotional products suppliers in the industry. In his free time, Pat enjoys drinking a cool beverage while attempting to play golf.