Navigating B2B Sales During COVID-19

March 24, 2020

Our world has been turned upside down, and for many sales professionals, the question is ‘how do I proceed in an unprecedented economic environment?’. Winmo CEO Dave Currie has been talking to revenue teams across the advertising landscape, from adtech and media sales to agency and sponsorship, to see how they’re pivoting. The most successful organizations are taking this opportunity to recalibrate, by prioritizing the right prospect sets, and executing an approach that shows empathy and compassion. Check out his interview with our CMO Jennifer Groese for practical tips on how you can adapt as well.

Groese: Good morning. Happy Friday. We made it through week number one. My name is Jennifer Groese, I’m the Chief Marketing Officer at Winmo, and I am joined by Dave Currie, our CEO. Dave, thanks for letting me hop into your home for a few minutes this morning to chat through some strategies for salespeople to be successful right now.

Currie: You’re welcome. Good morning, everyone.

Groese: Lots of questions lately from our customers on how to navigate the current kind of economic climate. Obviously, COVID-19 has thrown a little bit of a curveball to everybody, to say the least. So, I want to take the next 15 to 20 minutes to kind of pick your brain on what salespeople should be doing right now to be not only successful for the immediate, you know the end of the month, but also heading into the next 60 to 90 days as we come out on the … the other end of this. So I’ll jump right in. I feel like there’s a true or false question for a lot of people right now. Is it a time where organizations and business development teams should stop outbound and business development efforts? Or is it quite the opposite, and they should persevere and keep moving forward?

Currie: Well they’re certainly both a choice, right? I think we see that choice being made by different companies at different times. Certainly, like in any time of economic turbulence, there’s going to be winners and there’s going to be losers. And in my experience, really those who sit on their hands at times like this are going to be quickly outpaced by those who have decided to take action.

Groese: And I know you’ve obviously had a lot of questions with our customers over the past week. Are you finding these pockets of companies and customers who are doing just that, who are making the best use of this time and moving forward?

Currie: You know, it’s pretty well a mixed bag of those who are on stall, wait and see, and those who are on the get up and go path. There’s sort of really those two camps on either end of the spectrum. Very few are sort of sitting in the middle. Last week was obvious, for most sales and business development people, they were simply trying to figure out the logistics of how to actually work remotely. I think a lot of activity, outbound activity certainly stalled out pretty quickly. This week, however, those who are in the get up and go tribe, who have started to adapt their outreach, have been using tools like ours, like Winmo, to identify insights for marketers and to media planners at agencies on how to help them versus sell to them. So, certainly acts of goodwill versus highball sales tactics is definitely the order of the day.

Groese: Right. And this is definitely something that we’re experiencing on our end, right? We’re very much a sales-driven organization, 

So our sales team is, you know, in it with everybody else. I know one thing that we’ve talked about this week is, even though maybe outbound activity is a little down given this situation, there’s still other things that business development teams can be doing right now to still be proactive. Do you want to touch on a few of those examples of what we’re leaning in with our team? Like in regards to, we were talking earlier about things like Salesforce, right? 

Currie: Right.

Groese:… There’s a lot of strategic backend work that can still be happening during this lull, just to make sure we’re still being proactive, and when we come out from it, everyone’s kind of geared up and ready to go.

Currie: Yeah, I think that’s exactly right. Generally, because I would say that those who are in the real get up and go tribe, are already doing these things. So they’re outpacing anyone who hasn’t even thought about or been moving on the accelerate. There’s still time to catch up, so it’s okay. But there’s three peaks I think they fall into. One is insights research, so focusing on developing the relationships that you’ve already initiated. Staying top of mind in a genuine, value-based way. To do this, research, research, research. Look for insights and trends as close to real time as possible to help solve some of those new term challenges that brands are facing, like brick and mortar stores trying to move all of their traffic into an online migration strategy. that would be just one example of providing research and insights to current prospects, rather than going out unnecessarily trying to just establish new. Number two, hygiene. More than just washing your hands.

Certainly, I think it’s about data hygiene. Getting your sales, and your, maybe if you’re in charge of that, your marketing databases, and even your LinkedIn cleaned up.

Getting a data audit done for your CRM or your marketing automation app, is pretty easy to do. I know it can sound a little overwhelming at times, but it is pretty easy to do. And our team at Winmo can certainly give you a quick guide on how to accomplish that in a pretty straightforward and non-complex way. I’ve downloaded my entire LinkedIn network to begin cleaning it up and sorting through my contacts as well.

It’s just a good time to start doing some of those things that you know you need to be doing but get pushed out or deprioritized based upon the fires that you’re trying to put out at any one time in a normal environment. 

Number two is data hygiene. Number three perhaps goes without saying but repositioning in messaging. 

So, you may have to completely pivot your marketing strategy and your positioning strategy, service offerings, and certainly your messaging. So, I recommend taking a full day. Just take a full day, perhaps today or later this later next week, to go through in a linear fashion from top to bottom. All of the points of relevancy around your market positioning today in this new market reality and the messages that you were then having in cadence, applications, maybe you were using SalesLoft or Outreach. Any of the marketing automations cadences that you have set up that are ready to go. I think you’ve got to certainly have to go back in and either turn all those off and really examine the framework of that messaging or just completely redo it. So those are the simple three peaks, Jen. Research and insights, data hygiene, positioning in messaging.

Groese: Yeah. And I think you kinda, you know you hit the nail on the head with this one ’cause it’s a lot of the stuff that we should be doing, but we necessarily don’t have time for. So even though we’ve got a little bit of a situation here, we can still be productive about our time. So the next question on just sales strategy recommendations, you’ve already hit on a few of these at the top of the conversation you talked about changing the tone, changing the positioning of how you’re doing your outbound communications. And then you recently just touched on getting creative about the packages and offerings. Those are definitely two recommendations. Anything else that you’re finding to be successful? 

Currie: Well I think we’ve all seen revolt at the office from a variety of different companies, from Verizon, AT&T, to gyms providing free services.

It’s for a limited period of time. I think sales is somewhat redefined right now. I think what you’re looking to do is stay top of mind. You’re looking for mind share from not only your existing customers and prospects that you may already have started relationships with. But new customers, new relationships you’re looking to build in an authentic way. So, I think, you know as I said a little bit earlier, Jen, it’s about changing the tone of the conversation to an advisor versus a salesperson, which is really a good strategy at any time. 

Groese: Right. 

Currie: It’s a lot about providing goodwill gestures, not just highball sales tactics, so be thoughtful. If you hear a kid in the background, or you send a direct mail piece with a puzzle and a note, hopefully this will help keep them occupied during your next meeting. You know? You can also just be human about it. I think you got a conversation like this, Jen, between you and I for the audience that’s out there is something new and an example of that. 

Groese: Right. Yeah. I think it’s all about being flexible but being creative too. Because it’s a different environment than what they were in the office say last week.

Okay. So our customers, you know, we’re in the media advertising space. So I know we’ve been digging in a lot the past couple days to kind of find these exclusive opportunities of where brands are actually still investing in their advertisement. What are some of the opportunities for our customers right now? The pockets of opportunity you’re seeing? 

Currie: Yeah, well right now we’re monitoring and servicing for our customers in as close to real-time as possible ad spend and creative shifts in digital and social, TV, broadcast, and even podcast digital audio. We’re using those as the indicators of where the opportunity is with brands and with agencies are. So, we’re seeing huge shifts in at-home products and services as you might imagine.

From categories like DIYs to offline entertainment, education options like Lego whose spending shift in digital is spiking higher than it did in the holiday season.

Fitness brands and even brands in-home cooking essentials, like McCormick spices are ramping up ad spend. Think of all those people who have never used their kitchen before-

Groese: Now they’re forced to. 

Currie: Right, they’re going to, they have to. So there’s an opportunity so many unexpected places. Here’s a tip, look, watch the stock price of any publicly-traded company especially for those national advertisers.

The winners in this new market reality are being identified by those analysts and the stock prices are soaring. A lot of our customers are starting to use Winmo to then find that edge and a reason why and how to connect to the right people at those companies. I think it’s probably fair to say that our customers are relying on Winmo and our team to give them that unfair advantage.

By sorting through those opportunities. Serving them up as recommendations with insights on a daily basis. And understanding which brand to target today. A reason why, and who specifically to reach out to at that particular brand.

Groese: I was just checking my email before we jumped on this with our Winmo edge team and I know they’re putting together a really great report that specifically kinda goes through these categories and brands that are ramping up spending. So we should have that to our customers here in the near future. 

Currie: Right. 

Groese: All right, last question, and we’ll go ahead and wrap for this morning. Keeping sales team morale up, like I said we’re facing it as well, too, salespeople are on the front lines and getting kinda hit hard with people stalling or pushing pause or having different objections to overcome. How do you recommend people keeping the morale up for the sales organizations? 

Currie: I think it’s pretty simple, actually. A lot of this is just common sense. Look for the good. Overly communicate with each other and what I’m starting to see is what a lot of customers are starting to do is redefine how they think about a win that they can celebrate. It’s not just about a new sale right now. 

Groese: No. 

Currie: Certainly not last week, and certainly not this week. I mean new sales are great and that’s the objective in the end, of course. But think about, you know, a celebration of a win being a new relationship where trust has been established. Celebrating the small wins along the way to a sale.

Doing that across the company. It’s not just necessarily the sales team. I think it’s really important to bring in this ability to have everyone in web conferences and zoom meetings and so forth like this, Jen. All those little wins that add up to be a lot at the end of the day. So, looking for the good, celebrating the small wins along the way I think is absolutely key in driving sales teams. And quite frankly, company motivation. 

Groese: Yeah, that’s a great point. Celebrating more of those leading indicators because we’re going to have more of those kinds of on the front end than maybe on the tail end for right now anyway. 

Okay, Dave, well I’ve got all my questions answered. So, I’m looking forward to getting this out to our customers and prospects. And who knows, maybe we can kind of keep this going over the next few weeks. And keep different topics going and different conversations for our customers. 

Currie: Sounds great. Thanks for inviting me in, Jen. 

Groese: Yeah, thanks Dave, have a good day.



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