How the pandemic reshaped the B2B Software lead generation landscape
In 2020, the way we generated B2B software leads changed dramatically. The global pandemic brought trade shows and conferences to a screeching halt, businesses started to restrict travel and in-person meetings, and your future customers became harder to access than ever before.
Before the pandemic, Events Industry Council determined that trade shows and conferences brought together 1.5 billion attendees across the world, creating over $1 trillion in direct spending. In 2020, this unfortunately meant millions of missed connections between companies and their customers.
For start-ups, new product launches, or companies looking to reintroduce themselves, social distancing was even more devastating to lead generation as it shuts down a major way of getting the word out on who a company is and what they offer. Well rehearsed trade show pitches, stand-out booth designs and in-person strategies went by the wayside – and companies were left to create a new way to approach B2B software sales.
Luckily, there are B2B sales and lead generation experts who are conquering the new digital sales landscape and can help you fill any gaps in your virtual outreach to generate even more leads without face-to-face exposure. What’s more, is the truth is leads from a tradeshow aren’t qualified – you might think they are, but the reality is, they’re just a bunch of business cards your Sales Development Rep needs to work back in the office. Remember, not every lead you generate is sales ready. If you’re looking to learn more about the lead qualification process, and how to tell the difference between Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs), check out our recipe for supercharging your sales funnel with MQLs and SQLs.
How to navigate B2B in a pandemic driven digital world
The pandemic has shaken up the traditions of B2B software lead generation. Gone are the days of face-to-face interaction, packed conference centers, handshakes, and client dinners.
Because, even post pandemic, people have now realized the benefits of remote connections:
- Flexible scheduling
- Reduced travel expenses and time
- Cross-border opportunities
- Better ways to capture data driven insights
So, how can you connect with your customers and drive software sales remotely?
The good news is, the majority of B2B buyers now prefer connecting digitally and non-traditional channels are making up the largest share of B2B revenue. The question then becomes how to best connect with your customers when they prefer connecting remotely.
First – Video is king – Customers overwhelmingly prefer video interactions to phone. It allows you to still make a personal connection without distance and masks getting in the way of getting the point across. Use tools such as Zoom, Teams, and WebEx to connect, and make sure you are familiar with using all of them smoothly so you can meet your customers on the platform they feel most comfortable with.
Second – Practice is key – Delivering a sales pitch or presentation online is trickier than in person. You will have to deal with handoffs to someone you may not be able to see, mute buttons, poor connections, and no shortage of other technical gremlins that could pop up to spoil your pitch. Get familiar with all the platforms, invest in reliable service and work on your cues so that nothing gets in the way of generating leads.
Third – Respect your customer’s choices – Don’t assume your customer is okay with you showing up at their office for a sales meeting or lunch. If you are travelling, make sure you catch up on the local rules. Clients appreciate when you follow their preferences and according to the Professional Convention Management Association, the use of wristbands has taken off as a way to let others know what someone’s comfort level is with contact.
Maybe your sales team isn’t equipped with the newest tech, or trained on the best practices for remote selling. If that’s the case, outsourcing lead generation can help bridge that tech gap and help you scale up your sales force during these uncertain times.
How do I find new leads without a booth or a car?
COVID-19 has made generating leads an entirely different approach than the days of handing out business cards at a booth. But the goal here is to generate quality leads, SQL’s that are ready to convert. Conferences often produce leads, which is great but you still need to do the follow up work to connect personally with those leads.
The great thing about connecting with customers digitally is that they are already at the (virtual) conference so to speak.
Virtual sales enables a new breed of multi-channel outreach. Be where your customers are – on social media like Twitter and LinkedIn. Top tip? Engage personally with their online content to make a connection and stand out from other sales reps.
Email campaigns are also a way to remotely generate leads, but make sure you keep the human side showing by acknowledging the pandemic or challenges your leads are facing. Once you do make a connection, be personal and seek to understand what they are going through right now. Many companies are pulling back on spending, but many are also doing quite well during the pandemic and are using the opportunity to modernize or even expand.
Make sure you approach your leads with a true understanding of their situation. To do this you will need to think about what your customer’s customer is going through. The good news is, you likely already do this and probably just need to keep it in sharper focus. Either way, the takeaway is empathy is key in a world of remote selling.
Make capturing data a vital part of your lead generation pipeline. Bringing leads through your online funnel is one of the best ways to start the qualification process and learn more about your future customers. Now is the time to optimize your digital funnel and data driven insights. Don’t know where to start? Consider partnering with an organization that does – hint: we are experts at this!
Where does B2B go from here?
This might not come as a surprise, but a lot of the changes that have happened due to COVID-19 are not likely to go back to the old ways.
Companies are comfortable with interacting remotely, buyers are more comfortable spending big dollars online, and both sellers and buyers largely think remote interactions are working at least as well as traditional methods – or better! In fact, according to McKinsey & Company, 90% of decision makers expect this new way of selling to stick around into the future.
The truth is, while trade shows and travel are starting to ramp up again – we aren’t going entirely back to the old days and the techniques we’ve highlighted for lead generation during the pandemic need to be part of your everyday arsenal going forward. At the very least, the post-pandemic future will be a hybrid of virtual and in-person opportunities, and any investment you make in your digital approach will be worth it.
As the spectre of COVID-19 lifts from the world, there will be a lot of companies posed to spend big on their capex and opex – you want to be top of mind and on top of your game when they’re ready.
If your company is looking to ramp up your virtual sales strategy, is struggling to pivot to digital selling, or needs more leads in your pipeline – we’d love to help! At Hyperio,ai not only do we know B2B software sales, but we also offer a remote sales methodology – backed by AI technology – to optimize your digital outreach.
Let’s talk about how we can help you grow your business.