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Supporting sales teams – working with business development to come back stronger

5 May 2020

In these challenging times, business development and sales teams may not be able to operate as they normally would. Face to face meetings, customer visits, conferences and networking events have all been affected by lockdown measures.

If your business development and sales teams are struggling to adapt to the current business landscape, they may need some additional support – and tools – to help them. Your business may need to look at new ways to generate revenue and may wish to explore different avenues and new opportunities.

To help mitigate the impact of this difficult time on organisations, Horizon Works has put together some practical marketing advice and tips on how marketing activity can bolster your business development activities and help your sales staff in the short, medium and long term.

We delivered this content as a webinar too – If you would like a copy of the Supporting sales teams – working with business development to come back stronger presentation, please email us and we will send a copy to you.

Tip #1 – Connect and engage on social media. Build business profile and get noticed!

Top-performing sales reps consider social networking platforms very important to their success – in particular LinkedIn. these channels enable you to be where your audience is and improve chances of driving sales and interest in your company.

Your audience engages and researches online so make your company visible to them through sharing relevant content which will engage with your audience and build interest and credibility. And encourage your customers and networks to share your news and positive testimonials, as this builds trust and loyalty. However, make sure you share relevant content and use the right messages at this time.

What can you do?

  • Set up appropriate social media channels if you haven’t already
  • Use video or animations to enhance social media posts
  • Use good quality photography – it can speak volumes!
  • Use infographics and simple social media banners with icons and captions – convey your information quickly and in an eye-catching way
  • Use software such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to schedule social media content
  • React to and comment on news from your industry
  • Ensure your sales and BD teams are on LinkedIn and are comfortable with using it
  • Build a LinkedIn company page – post content on this which can be shared by staff

Tip #2 – Enhance your marketing materials. Give your teams the tools and resources they need.

The goal of both sales and marketing teams is to secure business and help their company grow. Research shows that alignment between sales and marketing in a business leads to higher revenues, win rates and customer retention.

However, sales teams need digital tools and resources to support with their direct selling, which is crucial at this time. What do your sales team and customers need right now? It’s important to re-purpose your materials to suit the current market. Create interest and engage with prospects through high quality ‘stand-out’ digital marketing materials, as this will definitely help your sales team!

What can you do?

  • Create eye catching, high impact material to promote your business
  • Convert company brochures, flyers and data sheets into PDFs for email or make them downloadable via your website
  • Create a suite of infographics which succinctly summarise products and services
  • Create short videos (for example on product demos, or using images/captions in a ‘slide show’ format) and embed these into websites and use on social media.
  • Create website landing pages which focus on particular products and services you need to highlight – or on particular challenges and solutions which are relevant to your industry
  • Ensure website content – such as information on products and services – is up to date and can be easily found on the website, through easy navigation

Tip #3 – Make a real impact with your sales presentations. And make them memorable.

Your sales team need to close the deal and make sure their presentation sticks! It’s important that a presentation tells your business story, highlights your USP, aligns with your prospects’ needs and wants and ends with a strong call to action.

Studies have found that a prospect’s brain can take in information at 400-500 words per minute, but a presenter can only speak at 125 words per minute – so replace some text with visuals. Combining visuals with text increases understanding and retention. Marketing support can help sales teams make a lasting impression through a memorable and impactful sales presentation – which will hopefully close the deal!

What can you do?

  • Create presentations which resonate with your target audiences – in terms of industry type, culture and demographics
  • Use photography and infographics instead of standard graphs, tables and charts – this can really bring a presentation to life
  • Videos and animations can greatly enhance presentations – and simply explain a complex process
  • Create a branded master presentation template which all of your sales team can use – with guidelines on how to use it!
  • Plan, rehearse, gain feedback and refine – and then refine again!

Tip #4 – Get on top of your data. Use it to your advantage to power your sales campaigns.

Sales data and CRM updates generally take a back seat as they are time consuming, but now is a good time to get on top of it and ensure data is accurate, up to date and aligned with your strategy. It is important to review data against your ideal client, do your research, build your prospect lists and update your information centrally.

Ask your sales teams what information they require to do their jobs effectively and look at what gaps you have in your current data. Quality data enables the creation of more targeted marketing campaigns – and more clarity on results. Better data can save your business time, money and resources in the long run – and streamline processes to maximise business impact.

What can you do?

  • Use your CRM to segment your target audiences by categories such as industry, location and job title.
  • Invest in a CRM system that is right for the size of your business and is scalable – and ensure sales staff are bought into it
  • Use this time to audit your contact details for customers and prospects – is it still accurate?
  • Integrate segmented data into email campaigns, in line with the target audiences for your products and services
  • Keep your CRM updated and secure – adhere to GDPR regulations

Tip #5 – Home in on your target audiences. Build sales campaigns which connect with customers and prospects.

Build the picture of what your clients’ behaviours, buying habits, needs/wants and preferred communication channels are, and segment your data and develop specific messaging and propositions that will meet their needs. Then you can develop targeted sales campaigns.

In the current situation, digital is the main channel through which to connect with your prospects. Email marketing, landing pages, targeted LinkedIn approaches and personalised emails all have important roles to play. So retune your content and messages to the current economic climate and to ensure a positive
response.

What can you do?

  • Build targeted campaigns after undertaking extensive research – what products or services will resonate with which audiences, what are your customers’ and prospects’ pain points?
  • Set up e-marketing templates using software such as MailChimp – and populate these in line with specific campaigns
  • Create a suite of content that resonates and engages – consider tone of voice impact and calls to action
  • Build consistent messaging for your campaigns – and apply it to all relevant channels
  • Be prepare to follow-up – if using e-marketing, you will have campaign data which will provide potential leads

Tip #6 – Embed your business in trade networks and industry bodies. And make your membership count!

Use trade networks and industry bodies to strengthen your profile and use their support to come back stronger. You can draw on their advice and support, get introductions to network members and find out more about the companies involved in the organisation.

Take the time to connect with members – introduce your businesses, exchange ideas, share experiences and provide advice, guidance and support to each other. In addition, it’s important to take advantage of communication channels available through these networks – update your profile, member to member offer and highlight ways you can support the network.

It’s also a great opportunity to learn new skills and improve your industry knowledge. Research the sector, industry landscape and trends – this information could help reshape your sales approach.  Marketing support can make sure your profile is maintained so that awareness is there when you need it!

What can you do?

  • Attend virtual events held by network organisations – there are plenty out there!
  • Promote your presence at industry network events via social media, let people know you are attending
  • Comment on any events you have participated in afterwards via social media – if you have enjoyed an event and found it useful, say so!
  • Take advantage of any opportunities for introductions to potential prospects
  • Create member to member offers to drive further engagement
  • Research network member companies – use your mutual memberships and industry connections as a platform for further engagement
  • Promote any new initiatives, products or services through network communication channels

Tip #7 – Take your networking online. Interact and engage with your industry through hosting your own virtual events.

Nothing beats the value of face-to-face meetings and events, but the current norm is using virtual options! There’s a range of accessible web-based platforms such as Digitell, Evia, Intrado, ON24, Zoom, GoToMeeting and Microsoft Teams available. The main advantage of virtual events it that you can connect to dozens or thousands of attendees from across the globe. Sales can be done anywhere and this opens up new opportunities!

But make your virtual event more than just an online presentation by including interactive features such as polling, Q&As and chat functions. And consider your content – make sure that the event’s themes are relevant to your audience. Be seen as a thought leader in your industry and use the virtual events to connect prospects and customers together. They’re less expensive, save time, have global reach and are flexible, and they make it easier to establish new connections, collate feedback and measure results.

What can you do?

  • Create online events which are genuinely useful to attendees and extend their knowledge – give them a reason to take part
  • Ensure you have the right software if you are delivering a webinar and need to screen share and use interactive functions
  • If presenting, ensure that your presentation is on-brand and has high visual impact – make it memorable
  • Consider online polls during online networking events and webinars for additional interaction
  • If delivering a webinar, follow up for feedback afterwards to build further interaction
  • Promote virtual events via email, social media and your website

Tip #8 – Promote your company’s expertise. Tap into the desire for knowledge and personal development.

Be at the forefront in a competitive market and develop a reputation for being an expert, or thought leader in your industry. Knowledge and expertise are important strategic assets in your business – internally and externally. Businesses choose you for your expertise and real-world experience, so promote this and use it to engage with your audience.

Establish the expertise in your business and determine what content and themes can be shaped around this. Underpin marketing campaigns around your expertise and share your knowledge in order to increase interest and demand. Using knowledge and expertise is the best sales tool for any business!

  • Add ‘how to’ guides to your website to encourage engagement and give sales teams additional content to promote
  • Consider producing white papers and promoting these via your website as downloadable gated content to gain new leads
  • Use LinkedIn to post on industry challenges and topics – get noticed for your specialist expertise and give your teams something to share which will attract attention in your industry
  • Research and pitch for speaker opportunities at virtual events – this is an opportunity to present, make new connections and draw attention to your business specialisms
  • Host your own webinars – and bring in guest speakers or partner with complementary businesses to broaden your reach

Tip  #9 – Turn complex technical content into compelling messages. Make it easy for prospects to understand how your business can help them.

If your business is from a complex and highly technical sector, cutting through the noise and articulating what you do is very important. It’s easy to share your knowledge and what you know – but does it resonate with your audience?  Don’t bombard your audience with jargon and lots of complicated information if they won’t understand it.

Making information digestible and informative is key when relying on digital channels for your sales activity. Translating complexity into powerful messages, images and campaigns which tell a story is vitally important.  Think about your global market – how can you demonstrate your highly technical products and cut through language barriers? Less is more – visuals can do the talking!

What can you do?

  • Use infographics and icons to convey statistics, figures, comparisons, features and benefits
  • Develop a suite of key messages around your products and services and ensure these will resonate in target sectors
  • Look at how your products and services actually help your customers – what challenges do they overcome, what will the overall impact be?
  • Consider demonstration videos and product animations – they could convey your products, services or processes more effectively

Tip #10 – Little touches can lead to big wins. Be proactive and agile in your communications.

Here are 10 ideas that could go a long way…

  • Follow your industry on social media. Engage and interact around topical issues and positive news to influencers, trade bodies, media titles, journalists, pioneers, prospects and customers
  • Say congratulations to clients and prospects with a card or social media message –  it will mean a lot
  • Involve your whole team in social media and have some fun – hey may come up with different ideas to engage with customers and prospects at this time
  • ‘Piggy back’ campaign messages, industry advice, and information on new services and products on to invoices and other regular correspondence
  • Check in with old contacts, re-connect and invite them to webinars, virtual industry events etc. – it’s a great opportunity to come back together
  • Put your clients in touch with each other, facilitate introductions and endorse them –  they will return the favour
  • Look at how you can add value to your current clients – is there something you can offer them that will really help them at this time?
  • Is there anything you can provide to prospects as value-add to support them with and provide some useful guidance at this time?
  • Share useful news or business opportunities across your network
  • Stay in touch – that phone call or email asking how your customer/prospect is doing could go a long way!

Moving forward…

Above all, this is a good time to forward plan and get back to basics. Take a step back, re-evaluate your marketing and sales approaches, plan out new ways of generating revenue and maximising on opportunities, and use the time to create a range of tools that will help your sales team grasp new opportunities.

If you would like to assess your current marketing position, from strategy to delivery, why not try our free online marketing diagnostic tool Snapshot360? Complete our online assessment and within minutes you’ll receive a 360 snapshot report which scores all areas of your marketing. Click here to take the test.

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