As businesses slowly start to reopen, B2B marketers will be tasked to reignite their business operations and identify when their target accounts are ready to do business again.
Seismic, a sales and marketing enablement software, rolled out resources to help its customers adapt to a work-from-home model, helping customers with remote collaboration, meeting the demand for content and fostering digital engagement. Ed Calnan, Co-founder and CRO of Seismic, shared details around how Seismic has adapted to COVID-19 and helped businesses retain similar levels of customer success.
“Businesses were forced to have most, if not all, employees work remotely,” Calnan explained. “They quickly needed to get their tech stack sorted to support this shift, and many turned to remote collaboration tools, like Zoom, which has experienced unprecedented growth during this time. These companies were most in need of a platform that helps facilitate continued growth if they had the budget available to make technology investments. Every sales and marketing leader, no matter what kind of business they work for, should be looking within their networks for similar opportunities.”
Calnan offered three tactics for marketers who are struggling with the effectiveness of their efforts:
- Aligning sales and marketing with customer success teams;
- Finding the best time to target rebounding accounts; and
- Identifying accounts that are on the verge or have already rebounded.
Keeping All Teams Up To Speed
The need for efficient communication is integral to any business’ success, and this rings true for businesses operating during and after COVID-19. According to Calnan, sales and marketing leaders need to look at the landscape as a whole and adapt accordingly, and having marketing, sales and customer success teams aligned leads to efficient communication and the ability to adapt to new information or marketing shifts.
The alignment of business operations can help increase response time to new trends, market shifts and active accounts. Maintaining alignment across the organization can also help teams identify companies that are rebounding, track new information that helps marketers accurately pursue individual accounts, create unified messaging and drive campaign success.
“When these teams are already working together, it's much easier to get a pulse on how customers are being impacted, which can then be funneled to sales and marketing to inform new strategies and plans,” Calnan explained. “It’s incredibly important that the customer success team is closely in touch with sales and marketing to ensure everyone is singing the same song as messaging and campaigns are overhauled.”
Marketing plays that worked pre-COVID may not be viable in a digital-only environment, and maintaining alignment across marketing, sales and customer success positions all teams to brainstorm ideas and test new strategies.
“Sellers can be creatures of habit,” Calnan stated. “Sales leaders have to become accustomed to pivoting and re-prioritizing, or worse, pipeline slowing. When that happens, marketing must take the time to focus on the behind-the-scenes work that will help their sales team succeed in the future. This requires perfecting demos, role-playing, training and account planning.”
Optimizing Rebounding Account Outreach
Calnan suggests that marketers make sure to validate the leads they are about to engage by identifying active accounts and looking at boosts in revenue, existing historical data and merger/acquisition activity. These factors show the overall health of the account, and help marketing, sales and customer success teams determine whether pursuing the account will result in engagement or ROI.
“Historical sales data has helped us determine who may still have the highest propensity to buy during an uncertain period like COVID-19,” he said. “Marketers and sellers also need to pay attention to things like a resumption of M&A activity. Basically, look for anything that suggests a company is making forward-looking business decisions.”
Calnan also highlighted that reaching out to pre-existing accounts and identifying active older accounts that have already rebounded will be easier by establishing trust. Many pre-existing buyers are looking for businesses that will maintain their operations despite the uncertainty, and marketers need to prove to accounts that buying from or partnering with their business will result in healthy growth for both buyer and seller.
Organizations with aligned marketing, customer success and sales teams can use this transparency to identify which older accounts are beginning to rebound, have already been active throughout the pandemic or are still inactive.
“Pandemic aside, expanding existing accounts should always be a top priority, and the customer success team should be part of that process in their role as trusted advisor and support system to customers,” Calnan stated. “They should always be clued into how current customers are using the platform and the business goals they’re trying to achieve so they can make strategic recommendations on new tools and features that can drive even more value.”
Knowing When To Engage
Calnan stressed the importance of knowing the best time to reach out to target accounts, as many accounts are still reopening or struggling to reenter the market.
Prematurely performing outreach for accounts that are not in the market or are still struggling to reopen can not only result in rejection but potentially kill any attempts to engage with them in the future. Marketers and salespeople need to carefully analyze their account data to avoid isolating potential buyers, learning which accounts are struggling, which are actively buying and which are getting their bearings.
“Sales and marketing teams need to exercise the highest level of due diligence before attempting to start a conversation with a business they perceive to be on the rebound,” Calnan stated. “This means keeping tabs on the activities of these companies for indicators that things are stabilizing for them.”
To avoid isolating their current out-of-market accounts or struggling future accounts, Calnan suggests that sales, customer success and marketing teams should instead pivot their strategies based on the accounts’ current status and decide whether to reach out accordingly.
While we’re still in times of uncertainty, B2B organizations must be nimble and agile with their outreach to maintain engagement with buyers as they rebound. Having a solid plan that aligns across organizations will position marketing, sales and customer success teams to build and maintain authentic relationships that close deals.