Optimizing Your Sales Pipeline During COVID-19

Sales pipelines everywhere have been hit hard by the pandemic. The previous intakes may no longer apply. Some personas and roles have changed. For sales teams, previous approaches that worked may have also changed.

If you thought sales development teams, who make the cold calls and conduct the initial outreach efforts, had it tough before, well this quarter may be brutal. 

Lots of folks are saying this is the time to pivot, but a pivot is easier to talk about than to do. The goal right now is to keep sales/pipeline disruption to a minimum, or in other words, make the most of a challenging situation. 

Sales needs to stay aligned with marketing, especially now, when there are pivots for initiatives that are more likely to be “out of the box.” Both departments need to work together to maximize the potential of any new campaign, initiative, or strategy. 

Those marketing and sales plans from the start of the year? They may need to be chucked out the window. The current pandemic has changed the circumstances for buyers, and for the salesforce in turn. 

Territories and quota assignments are completely disrupted, if not outright obsolete now with the necessary shift to the “new normal.” 

This new normal is also making buyer behaviors erratic and turbulent, prone to minor or major changes in smaller and smaller timelines. So historical data and existing personas honed from years of sales expertise are no longer reliable. This is where AI comes in. 

Optimize your pipeline with AI and automation

AI also traditionally relied on historical data to make predictions about the future. But we’re in a new world now; the past can only tell us about the past. Today’s AI and automation are equipped to start aggregating new data to begin to make accurate predictions/prescriptions. 

Using AI and third party data can help sales leaders avoid bad-fit deals. Volatile market trends can and will lead to inaccuracies in the pipeline, unless the pipeline is optimized for agile accuracy to current customer preferences and needs.  

AI and data give insight on what customers are still buying, and consequently, more accurate predictions on who else are likely to buy, in which channels, and when. 

Automation can use these insights to help your sales teams build/rebuild pipelines and act fast on good deals and good accounts with the best opportunities. 

Utilize digital apps for internal and customer-facing communications

Apart from using AI and automation tools, bring everything to the cloud. Examine how going digital can help you and your teams cut costs, streamline operations, and increase revenue. 

Team communication

Lines of communication, amongst team members, shouldn’t just be kept open. They should be abuzz from all the interaction passing through them. 

Email is necessary, but only conveys so much. As much as Zoom may get pooh-poohed for its limitations, it still helps to see someone when communicating. Slack is another option, with each team and campaign having its own centralized channel. 

WFH has limitations, but technology can help minimize disruption (and the panic it can spark). 

Lead nurturing and outreach

Everyone has prospects whose circumstances changed when the pandemic started to impact our lives back in March (in the U.S.). But prospects who weren’t ready pre-COVID might be in a prime position for nurturing now due to new circumstances and/or role changes. 

Marketing and sales teams need to requalify these leads and check-in. It’s also an opportunity to learn about new pain points, new priorities. 

How have your customer personas changed? 

Previously cold leads might actually become new prospects and make up for the clients and customers cancelling or pausing deals. 

Email campaigns and social media ad retargeting can bring in both old and new customers. AI can give insight on what prospects are searching for so your sales and marketing teams can augment each campaign with attractive angles and offers. 

Aim to increase revenues

That seems like a bald thing to say, but times of crisis can and do put leaders into default fight or flight modes: they focus on minimizing damage and cutting costs. 

This is the time to continue being aggressive and proactive about increasing revenue. 

Applying AI and automation can help optimize your sales pipeline, cutting costs by avoiding wasted time and effort, and increasing revenue through effective, informed marketing efforts. 

Growth is still possible during a time of crisis — not just survival. Actual growth is also possible and should remain as the big, hairy, not-so-audacious goal, so you and your teams can find and even create the opportunities and maximize them. 

I already wrote about the Boston Consulting Group’s Four Rs. You need to keep building your marketing and sales for sustained positive results. 

Right now, businesses might be in the “Reflect” stage of looking for opportunities, but don’t stay there too long. 

Make strides in the “Reimagine” stage of updating your marketing and sales pipelines, and definitely lay paving stones for the “Rebound” stage of using AI and digital automation and apps to scale your wins. 

That’s the stage where you have really recovered from paralysis (“What do we do?!”) and are thinking and acting on adjustments to your personas’ new buyer’s journeys. 

Recalibrate value proposition — and everything else — for sales resilience

Everything above is about recalibrating. Optimizing your sales pipeline makes you look at every detail — from messaging to the actual delivery of your brand’s services and products. 

Before, during, or after your most urgent pivot strategies, consider the big picture

This is the time to revisit your value proposition to match it to the new reality your customers face. I’ve said this above and it bears repeating: What worked before might not work right now and in the upcoming new world post-COVID.  

Dan Baird

You may also like
Optimizing Your Sales Pipeline During COVID-19
Blog

Optimizing Your Sales Pipeline During COVID-19

AI also traditionally relied on historical data to make predictions about the future. But we’re in a new world now; the past can only tell us about the past. Today’s AI and automation are equipped to start aggregating new data to begin to make accurate predictions/prescriptions.
Read More
How marketing and sales AI can make your brand more human
Blog

How marketing and sales AI can make your brand more human

AI helps us collect, build, and act on, a huge bank of emotion-related data. And personalization -- if it's going to be effective -- must invoke human emotion.
Read More
This is a Good Time to Revisit Your Value Proposition
Blog

This is a Good Time to Revisit Your Value Proposition

Depending on context, the value proposition a company has today — no matter how good — might need to change. Perhaps some your prospects have altered or changed their priorities? Does your value proposition still resonate with these new priorities?
Read More
Using AI to do business mid-crisis and beyond
Blog

Using AI to do business mid-crisis and beyond

The brands that are doing the best marketing/outreach right now in the time of COVID-19 are those that understand their target audience’s fear and struggle, not just right now with the world turned upside down, but all the time.
Read More
Cold Calling is Not Dead
Blog

Cold Calling is Not Dead

At this time, while we’re all on limited contact with people, cold calls might be appreciated and come back in style, especially when it’s done right. Everyone’s craving contact -- yes, even introverts. The cold call just has to be done right.
Read More
Keeping the balance against AI biases
Blog

Keeping the balance against AI biases

Algorithms are only as good as the humans who create them. And humans can try, but can’t prevent, having their own biases. AI develops its own, which can lead to wrong decisions that can be disastrous if the humans who make them rely solely on AI data and don't balance the biases.
Read More
Marketing & Sales Beyond the Pandemic 101: Keep Building
Blog

Marketing & Sales Beyond the Pandemic 101: Keep Building

Crisis management is for achieving some modicum of stability amidst incredibly choppy waters. When it has no end in sight, adjusting replaces managing. We accept this new environment we need to work in (we have no choice), so we need to think about ways we can prepare to face it with competence now and later on.
Read More
COVID-19 Marketing: Goodwill Marketing is the Current Brand Marketing
Blog

COVID-19 Marketing: Goodwill Marketing is the Current Brand Marketing

For some companies, it's business as usual in some ways. But at the same time, it’s not at all business as usual at all. Crisis marketing has evolved to include goodwill marketing. There are delicate nuances marketers should consider and apply to their messaging.
Read More
Marketing in the Time of COVID-19
Blog

Marketing in the Time of COVID-19

How are you doing in your part of the world? How are your family and friends? How’s business going? You...
Read More
Revisiting Personas: Why they matter in the age of personalization
Blog

Revisiting Personas: Why they matter in the age of personalization

“Persona” is in “personalization.” That's obvious (and cheesy) I know, but most of us know by now that personas are...
Read More
Personally Identifiable Information (PII) 101
Blog

Personally Identifiable Information (PII) 101

Personally identifiable information, or PII, is self-explanatory and it’s nothing new. It hails from the age of mail-order catalogues and...
Read More
The rise of micro-moment: tiny moments, BIG impact
Blog

The rise of micro-moment: tiny moments, BIG impact

“Be quick, be there, be present.” That’s from Google, when they first coined “micro moments” in 2015. With the age...
Read More
Personalized marketing is omnichannel marketing
Blog

Personalized marketing is omnichannel marketing

Personalized marketing is omnichannel marketing. After all, your marketing strategy is not personalized at all if your customers have to...
Read More
The shift toward guarding customer data will boost influencer marketing
Blog

The shift toward guarding customer data will boost influencer marketing

The Cambridge Analytica scandal still makes people paranoid about Facebook, but marketers weren’t really surprised about it. We know how...
Read More
New tech makes account based marketing more achievable
Blog

New tech makes account based marketing more achievable

The marketing landscape is shifting in this new decade, thanks to marketers finally implementing martech (including AI) to adapt to customer demands and expectations. The same agility and intelligence we can utilize for hyper-personalization can be applied to account based marketing.
Read More
Customer Data 101—How to Collect and Use It in Lawful and Good Ways
Blog

Customer Data 101—How to Collect and Use It in Lawful and Good Ways

It’s projected that 2020 is the year marketers will finally stop being so scared that personalization is invasive, by making personalization impressive.
Read More
The marketing trend of the decade: insight-driven and customer-focused
Blog

The marketing trend of the decade: insight-driven and customer-focused

It’s hard or near impossible to plan for the future, especially with constant changes and updates to marketing innovation, but marketing leaders are always a good sounding board on giving insight and even predicting what would catch on sooner or later.
Read More
Is CRM finally ripe for disruption in 2020?
Blog

Is CRM finally ripe for disruption in 2020?

CRM can and should serve marketers on the challenge of attracting new prospects and keeping existing customers. The answer to that challenge is staying relevant and in step with customer preferences and expectations. 
Read More
Only relevant content is visible to your audience
Blog

Only relevant content is visible to your audience

Only relevant content is visible to your audience. We always talk about content marketing to attract audiences but it’s amazing how many businesses actually lose sight of the audience.
Read More
Align martech solutions with your marketing and engagement goals
Blog

Align martech solutions with your marketing and engagement goals

It’s going to be a long while before AI truly takes over from humans, if it ever will. The companies that use AI most effectively will be those that work with it, and allow it to take over processes that can and should be automated, freeing up employees to be more creative than ever, to connect dots they wouldn’t otherwise, and to be great translators of data.
Read More
1 2 3
Previous Post
Next Post

LEAVE A REPLY