Novel content solutions and a willingness to test, learn and adapt are revolutionising how brands engage with customers in our purely digital environment

Speak to any B2B salesperson during the current lockdown and they will bemoan their inability to meet clients in person.

They’ll also likely vent their frustration at not having the mobile phone numbers of prospects, making it near-impossible to casually make contact, overcome objections, and move potential customers further down the sales funnel.

The result: pipelines risk being packed with leads that aren’t moving as sales revenue fall. This despite the fact that many industries have products that are as relevant during a lockdown as they are in normal times — in many cases, even more relevant.

All is not lost, however.

Richer customer experience

Today, there are numerous platforms and channels where content can be published, amplified — and most importantly — consumed by motivated buyers.

Our current online-only world enables brands to spark a richer point-of-sale conversation, with interactive media replacing the loss of the personal connection that we used to enjoy. Overnight, customers have become Zoom-trained and equipped, allowing us to inject a sense of humanity, connect people with important insights, and even to start a party at the point of sale.

This is a time of significant change, and one truly ripe for innovation. In retail, the most effected from the loss of contact, brands are deploying a number of excitement-driven tactics that at first glance, are working remarkably well. In some cases, businesses are inviting customers to participate in ‘virtual drinks’ via social broadcasts, to socialise, have a good time — and spark some anxiety-busting retail therapy.

The concept of driving leads online is clearly nothing new. For years, opportunistic agencies have sold the idea of using content to do the hard-sell on behalf of company sales teams. In many cases, however, marketers and salespeople were left disappointed. The root cause of this was often numerous. Typically, there was a misunderstanding between content that drives brand awareness, and the type of stories that facilitate open and constructive customer engagement. Furthermore, because marketing folks are typically fond of ‘the big bang’ quality of ‘hero content’, the vast majority of assets created pushed brand equity, but not sales. (I’ll elaborate on this later).

The other thing that has been changing rapidly is the growing ability of digital in-house teams to better monitor customer action and response, and for brands to better utilise SEO strategists, as well as sales optimisation tools such as those from Salesforce.

Yet importantly, none of these are ‘plug-and-play’. And none of the data insights work without the ability for the brand to use the insights to speak to the customer. This raises a more important consideration for brands — how motivated are they to change current run-of-play practices, to thrive in an ever-changing online-only world?

The few that have been quick to adapt look set to reap the rewards of today’s status quo. Many of these brands are in the technology and start-up space. Those that have not adjusted may soon struggle to be in business soon, especially where rivals step in and close the gap.

Numbers don’t lie

In a changing world, understanding customer preferences is paramount. Fortunately, two landmark studies were released earlier this year: one by McKinsey & Company, and another by Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

Examining the upheaval caused by the ongoing pandemic on B2B sales, the reports concluded that investment in digital content will not only enable businesses to thrive in the short- and medium-term, it will also change the sales function for good — making it more engaging, relevant and fit for purpose than before.

Digital outreach is critical to this, McKinsey found. Both B2B buyers and B2B vendors now view digital channels as being significantly more important than traditional in-person sales. Prior to today’s crisis, 53% of B2B salespeople engaged with customers in-person — versus just 26% now. Conversely, online engagement through content and web support has boosted its presence within the sales process, growing from 53% before COVID-19 to 64% thereafter.

Online engagement is now the number-one B2B sales channel, McKinsey showed, already ahead of e-commerce (52%) and telesales (41%).

The opportunity for brands is immense, BCG added, yet few will likely seize it. Historically, only 14% of companies capitalise on fast moving, disruptive trends during times of crises to accelerate growth and increase profitability. As revenues return, these brands in turn become the bolters from the pack.

Refine your engagement strategy

At CP5, we’ve developed our own digital sales solution to help brands seize the moment. Our solution enables salespeople to move prospects further down the sales funnel, by communicating responses to common objections, for instance. Or by showcasing how products have successfully worked with other buyers — allowing customers to make informed purchases. When successful, the solution helps solve buying problems, creates interactivity and generates buzz.

These are the mere tip of the iceberg in terms of what our solution does. As content leads for global brands, our experiences working with sales teams have enlightened us about the technologies and content types that best motivate customers to buy or enquire further.

So what does our solution fully entail, and how does it work?

You’ll have to engage with us to find out!

To learn more about our more about our digital sales solution, talk to us.