future sales webinar

Is Sales Impossible in 2020? 5 Expert Strategies to Close Deals

17 December 2020

2020 has been a year. 

The business world was turned upside down. The coronavirus devastated many industries, there have been massive layoffs. Businesses are looking to trim their budgets and go lean. 

Which presents a massive challenge for B2B sales teams whose future depends on their ability to get businesses to spend money. 

Is it impossible to sell right now? Should we just pack up and call it a day? 

There are far more sharks and sales reps in the sea than there are fish to eat. The SMB market got hit really, really hard recently. Most businesses laid off at least some of their employees, if not most of them. They aren't making as big of a profit as they were even four or five months ago. 

That means salespeople have to restructure how they sell to businesses.  

In a recent webinar, we covered exactly what salespeople need to know about selling in the current climate — and what opportunities sales teams can lean into

If you want to watch the webinar again, here is the replay.

Note: Want to build a winning sales strategy with the right prospects? Sign up for free Leadfeeder's 14-day trial.

Sales strategies for 2020 & beyond 

The recent webinar included a panel discussion hosted by Andy Culligan, the CMO of Leadfeeder. He was jvoined by Nikki Ivey, the founder of SDRDefenders, James Ski, the CEO of Sales Confidence, and Amy Quick, a Business Development Executive at IntelliMagic. 

So, what did these brilliant folks have to say about sales in 2020? Let's cover a few highlights. For more info (and laughs), watch the full webinar. 

Modernize prospecting 

Prospecting has changed — in the past; it was all about cold calling, direct mail, and maybe knocking on doors. In this day, with so much noise, things have had to change.  

Nikki Ivey shared that if salespeople want to break through the noise, you want to make them smile, you want to draw attention to your company and what you are selling.   

Video can be the catalyst to having meaningful conversations — which is crucial to selling in this climate. Nikki uses tools like Drift Video and Loom to really connect with prospects by creating personalized videos and fun animations. 

"When you're creating video content for prospecting that's the step that you have to take and it's working, right? You're not gonna spend any much more time personalizing these as far as finding what quote to include than you would if you were gonna personalize a LinkedIn invitation or an email. But this is just much more impactful, so you're getting more mileage out of the work that you're doing."

Take an unconventional approach

According to Amy Quick, one of the best ways to get in front of prospects is to blend the emotional side of things with the sales side. You want to build relationships, which means you can't use the same strategies as everyone else. 

You've got to be a little bit different, a little bit better. 

sales strategy blake lively

Before you go into prospecting in an unconventional time with an unconventional approach, you have to accept that there's going to be haters. There's going to be people on either side who don't buy into what you're doing, who don't get it, and you have to let that go.  

"I had one guy who, all I could find was a picture on social media of a 1977 Pontiac Firebird, okay, sitting in his driveway. And I thought, "This guy's a Smokey and the Bandit fan." It was the only public picture he had on his Facebook profile, right? So I got super stalker-ish on this guy. 

But it hit me, 'cause I was like, "Okay, he's a classic car fan, he obviously loves this car, it's the only public photo he has." So I ended up sending him a little toy 1977 die-cast car model in his Christmas package and he was blown away that I would take the time to..figure out what he liked. 

This is something this guy loves and I'm trying to tell him, "Hey look, I value you enough as a customer… to develop this relationship that I'm gonna give you something that is meaningful to you. And every time you look at it, you're gonna remember that crazy sales girl that sent you this little toy car." 

But you also need to be careful not to over personalize, which can come off as creepy. For example, with Leadfeeder, you can see what company has come to your website, even what pages they looked at. 

Before you reach out, make sure you understand their intent— what type of content did they look at? What brought them to your site? If they are at the top of the funnel, then offer content that is more targeted to where they are in the sales funnel. 

Shorten the time to value 

When it comes to selling to executives, Amy Quick recommends putting yourself in that person's shoes. An executive, for example, might have 300 emails from sales reps in their folder at any given time or more. 

They are busy, they want to know what you can do to help them in their position because, ultimately, they've got plenty of other things to focus on. 

They're probably trying to shift up in position, eventually, or they are going to jump ship and get a CEO role at another company. You aren't just trying to help them solve a day-to-day challenge, you are trying to help them in their career, too. 

They don't have the time for you to build up to your point. Give them the crescendo at the front of your message. Give the "This is what we're gonna do for you." right upfront. 

Tell them what you want, tell them what you can do for them. 

sales strategy the notebook

 Follow it with supporting details, not the other way around.

Amy shared how she got the attention of one executive she couldn't get through to for six months of traditional prospecting.

"I sent them Dilbert's comic strip email, he was like, "That was awesome. Way to get on my radar. Yes, we need to talk." And then on a 15-minute phone call, I moved them. This is a top Fortune 10 company, I moved them forward now we're gonna do a 2020 deal." 

Why? Because she got straight to the point, "Hey, we're gonna save you money. You guys have this initiative going on. We can actually do far above and beyond what you're currently doing there and that's gonna save you money and time." 

In the end, that is all the guy really cared about. 

Social selling 

Social selling is likely something you are already doing, but you might not be approaching in the most effective manner. Our panel's first suggestion was not to be afraid to be yourself on social media because in the long run, your customers will identify more with authentic content. 

Bring humor into the equation. Right now, people are struggling. There's no denying that. People that have been laid off left and right, companies are struggling. But, you can still use humor and self-deprecating humor. You can make people smile and that will help you in your business connection.  

Don't be afraid to break the mold a little bit. 

Stephen Chase got an email from a prospect calling him a sales weasel. It was just a cold outbound email and he was just like, "You know what? I'm gonna embrace it. We are kind of sales weasels, aren't we? We're all trying to weasel our way in somehow." 

So instead of being off-put by it, he owned it and now he's actually dubbed himself the sales weasel. 

It's even on his LinkedIn: 

sales strategy stephen chase

It's hilarious and he's getting responses on emails, people are sending him connection requests out of nowhere, they want to talk to him. So it's working. 

And there's Matthew Wells, who posts the Basic Dad Stuff every Wednesday. It has no relation to his business life or sales or anything. It's just Basic Dad Stuff. 

It's phenomenal because you get to see who he is as a person, as a dad. You get to know his character, and as a customer, you think, "Would I do business with that guy?" Most people think, "Absolutely, he seems like a really solid dude, and those videos are hilarious, and I bet the conversations that come from it would be amazing."

Focus on risk aversion 

The fear of risk is going to have a large impact on business, especially in the SMB world. These businesses were hit hard by the coronavirus, and they may want to hire back employees before they're likely to purchase solutions — or they're looking to purchase solutions to replace the bodies they lost. 

While that might be a cold way of looking at it, that is the reality from a strategic business standpoint

What does that mean for your sales team? 

Explain to prospects that your solution is less risky than no action. That's going to be a really, really important point to communicate because that's gonna sell the confidence and help them solve a problem. 

Show how you can actually help boost their business in some way moving forward, as opposed to them plunking down 500K on a solution and think, "Oh man, I am really gonna regret that in six months."  

sales strategy nick offerman

For example, a major travel agency might have recently laid off a large portion of their IT staff. Bookings were down, so it made sense to cut those costs. 

But when the quarantine ends and everything opens back up, and it will, they will absolutely be overwhelmed because they lost people that do the actual physical work. There is a huge risk of not bringing in some sort of solution to help plug those holes that they're going to need to fill. 

Risk aversion is going to be a critical conversation with clients, especially as we come out of 2020. 

Final thoughts on sales in 2020 

Sales isn't impossible in 2020. Despite the economic downturn, despite the layoffs, and even despite the fact that many businesses have a far lower budget, there are still plenty of sales opportunities for salespeople who are willing to break the mold

Successful sales does require trying new strategies to build relationships and adjusting your approach in a post-COVID world. Stay focused on building those relationships, but find a way to stand out through video, personalized outreach, or building a strong (non-business related) social media presence. 

Note: Want to build a winning sales strategy with the right prospects? Sign up for free Leadfeeder's 14-day trial.

Anna Crowe
By Anna Crowe

Anna works as a SEO Consultant and writer for Search Engine Land. Over the last decade, Anna has successfully developed and implemented online marketing strategies, SEO, and conversion campaigns for 100+ businesses of all sizes; from the Fortune 500, to startups, and nonprofits. She enjoys burritos and puppies (in that order).

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