June 15, 2020

Save Your Sales Pipeline amid Coronavirus Challenges

By Anand Shah, CEO and co-founder, Databook

The current coronavirus pandemic is swiftly impacting every major global economy – and businesses around the world are struggling to respond. If you’re also in the thick of recalibration, and you’re wondering what you can do to protect the continuity of your sales pipelines, you’re on the right track already. Adaptation is vital to surviving this crisis.

The good news is that businesses have succeeded in weathering storms like these before – and they will succeed again. In fact, with the right data-driven insight, today’s businesses might even have the odds in their favor. The key is to act quickly and intelligently, keeping these three guidelines in mind.

Three Insights to Sell Successfully Right Now 

1) Know how your customers make money.
Do they still need you right now? How can you help them make money in a downturn?
This might seem rudimentary, but it’s imperative that you know exactly where and how your customers bring in revenue – especially in the midst of today’s chaos. Why? Because the only thing most companies care about right now is making or saving money. If your planned deal with a customer is not directly related to either massive revenue generation or massive cost reduction, you’re not meeting their current needs.

What can you do?

  • Gain a rich understanding of your customers’ historical revenue streams, and weigh them against current influences of the COVID-19 outbreak. Will these revenue sources continue to be viable? Where do your products/services help them generate additional revenue?
  • Work with your product development teams to clarify the business impact your products/services can bring to your customers.
  • Focus on the use cases with the greatest potential for accelerating customer revenue or reducing customer expenses.

2) Know the risks to your customers’ businesses.
Are they likely to perform layoffs? How do you help them mitigate potential risks?
You’d be hard pressed to find a company in any industry that’s not affected by the current coronavirus outbreak response. Many are laying off staff or reducing work hours drastically. Others are instituting company-wide pay cuts. Still others are shifting priorities in development and delivery due to changes in the supply chain. As you look to your sales pipeline, remember that your job now is to assist your customers in alleviating the pain of this down cycle. Doing so demands that you have intimate, up-to-date insight into their crisis response strategies.

What can you do?

  • Look at what the management team is prioritizing in its most recent investor update. Are there changes in guidance or budget re-prioritization?
  • Based on your pipeline, identify the deals where you’re most likely to align with – or even enhance – the customer’s risk response.
  • Are new opportunities opening where you can help address immediate pain and urgency for the customer?

3) Know your customers’ plans to mitigate or maintain.
Has management intent changed? How do you help them make these critical decisions?
A huge part of understanding how to seize new opportunities is understanding how management thinks and feels. Never has that been more accurate. Executives are regularly issuing numerous directives that show clear signals about everything from how seriously they view the potential impact of the virus outbreak, to when they expect to implement changes, and how long they anticipate irregularities to last. Your job now is to decipher these signals and determine how they affect purchasing budgets and decisions, with particular focus on short-term payback for 2020.

What can you do?

  • Assess and analyze data around management intent. Which key stakeholders are expressing the greatest pain and urgency?
  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of your customer’s point of view during this crisis. Show that you have done your due diligence and are acutely aware of where they are hurting and how you are positioned to solve the problems they are prioritizing today.
  • Plan a proposal that can speak to these top-level decision makers, backed by outcome-based projections of how your products/services can deliver specific, compelling, and immediate impact.

Data Can Help Us Navigate a Selling Crisis 

The world we’re living in today is indeed a strange one, with unprecedented circumstances that have left us all reeling. It’s important, however, to remain calm and remember that we have battled our way through economic hardships before – and we will do so again.

Fortunately, we now have the technology and data to alleviate issues our predecessors did not. If harnessed strategically, this power can give sales organizations a distinct advantage that protects their own pipelines while also helping customers effectively conquer new challenges.

Anand Shah is CEO and co-founder of Databook.