The COVID-19 crisis has caused B2B sales organizations to reevaluate their sales processes, refit their sales conversations, and otherwise adapt to rapidly changing conditions in an environment of unprecedented uncertainty. However, there are two aspects of B2B sales that are sometimes underestimated and overlooked even in the best of times: lead qualification and lead management. In this time of crisis and even after the economy has become a new normal, it is more important than ever to qualify your sales leads and manage, maintain and reorganize your sales leads over time.
Here are some reasons why your B2B sales team must put lead qualification and lead management at the top of your priority list during COVID-19.
In a time of crisis like COVID-19, there doesn't seem to be a bad sales lead. The truth is more complicated. During COVID-19, demand has slowed in many industries. Many prospective customers are reluctant to buy or reduce their expenses or delay their purchases. This means that you still have to spend time on lead qualification. Have a good process to qualify and evaluate sales leads on every incoming call and conversation: Find out which potential customers are really interested in buying, which delay their spending and which are not the right fit for that what you sell.
If buyer demand is decreasing, it does not mean that you should take on any new sales leads indiscriminately and assume that they are all ready to buy and treat them equally. Some sales leads are better than others. Some prospects are ready to buy, others are just starting to research, and others may never be suitable for what you are selling. And that's fine!
Good sales leads are valuable in a crisis, as is the time spent by your sales team. If you can better qualify your sales leads, you can figure out how to properly allocate the time and energy of your sales reps.
A major trend in B2B sales that we currently see from many customers is that some B2B buyers still spend money but spend it differently. You could delay large purchases until later in 2020 or until next year. Or they cut their budgets. You could cancel projects with large providers and instead work with several small suppliers.
A few in-depth lead qualification discussions can help you learn more about what your potential customers really want to achieve, and find faster and more agile ways your company can meet their needs. You may not need your most comprehensive and expensive solution package, you may have to fit into a smaller budget. Depending on what you're selling, there may be more opportunities for your business here. In a sense, being a small business is a good time, as you may be better able to adapt to current needs.
The COVID-19 crisis was a terribly stressful event, but there are many signs of hope. Some companies have resumed business, others have resumed spending, others see signs of growth for the rest of 2020. Lead management must be a long-term activity. Just because your potential customers aren't ready to buy today doesn't mean they won't be ready in a few months.
This is one of the lasting lessons from working in B2B sales: the entire situation can change in just a few months (sometimes for the worse, often for the better)! Your potential customers may get better budget clarity, may choose to outsource various business functions, may receive a large order to spend more on your solution, or one of your competitors may go out of business that opens up Opportunity for you.
If you have a good lead qualification, lead ranking and lead management process, you can evaluate, adapt and use opportunities in the long term. No matter how many business contacts you have in your pipeline, no matter what happens to the overall economy, it is important to invest time and effort in understanding your business contacts: how willing they are to buy, how good they are about your leads provides solutions, how well do they fit in with what they're selling, and how can you add the most value to build a good relationship and complete the sale? Lead qualification and lead management help you prioritize your sales efforts and focus on the right activities during the current crisis and beyond.