The COVID-19 pandemic will pass eventually.
Right now, it’s having a dramatic impact on our landscape, forcing countless employees to work from home, and transforming the way that we communicate.
However, the panic won’t last forever. Eventually, we’ll get back to business as usual. Or, at least we’ll have a version of it.
In the meantime, business owners and their sales teams are in an excellent position to learn and grow.
Although the coronavirus pandemic, like many other crises in the past, may feel as though it’s draining your bottom line, it’s also giving you a chance to examine your operations.
If you can adapt to the situation that we’re facing now and learn how to respond to the changing needs of your customers, then you won’t just protect your cash flow, you’ll also strengthen your brand reputation.
As tempting as it may be to embrace panic stations in any unpredictable environment, now is the perfect time to call upon our human creativity, community spirit, and ingenuity, to keep the wheels of business turning.
Necessity is the mother of invention, right?
So, how do you keep the sales coming during a crisis?
Sales strategies: Start with a plan
Today, we’re going to be looking at the sales strategies that businesses can use in any crisis.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re dealing with an economic downturn, a sudden natural disaster, or a pandemic like COVID-19, these sales strategies will make a difference to your bottom line.
Like most things in building a successful business, it all starts with a plan. You’re going to need to figure out how you’re going to respond to certain situations.
- If your employees can’t come to the office, can they continue to work from home for a while so that they can support your brand without putting themselves in danger?
- If you can’t access the skilled individuals you need in person, could you consider contracting a specialist to work with you online until things iron themselves out?
- When your employees can’t come to work, how are you going to continue to deliver to your customers? Can you embrace drop-shipping strategies to deliver products straight to customers from your suppliers? If your team members can work from home, do they need additional training and support to help them figure out new tools?
Critically assess what risks and challenges you’re likely to face if a disaster strikes in your company. Think about the most common problems that you’ll need to deal with if people can’t visit your store or office in person.
How are you going to adapt? Your business may already be in the midst of a digital transformation, but now could be the time to accelerate that plan.
One of the most essential parts of your plan for COVID-19 or any disaster for that matter, is figuring out how you’re going to communicate with your audience.
We’re not just talking about marketing messages here – although maintaining a good promotional strategy is important.
Communication is critical in times of crisis.
Your plan needs to include outlines on:
- How you’re going to reach your customers: Can you use email newsletters or social media updates to let your clients know what you’re doing to support them in this challenging time? How are you going to show your customers that they can continue to buy from you?
- How you’re going to connect with suppliers: Your suppliers and the contractors that you work with will need to know how you plan on going forward too. Do you need to take extra measures in your supply chain to keep your customers safe?
- How you’re going to put fears at ease: Be proactive about communicating what’s possible for your brand and what isn’t during this time. Let customers, staff, and shareholders get a realistic insight into what’s going on. Trust can fade, and panic can spread quickly in times of crisis.
Dealing with a crisis: Addressing customer fears
Once you’ve got your plan ironed out, it’s time to start making essential changes.
You should have a pretty good idea of how you’re going to maintain your operations during this time. Usually, when disasters happen, the best bet is to take as much of your business online as possible.
Many sales strategies are already optimised for the digital world, so this is a chance for you to explore new opportunities and methodologies.
Depending on the industry you’re in, your customers may be encountering some new pain points caused by your crisis.
Think carefully about how the issue is affecting your customers and which questions are keeping them up at night, then adjust your sales pitch and marketing to address those challenges.
Are your customers:
- Concerned about accessing services in a face-to-face environment?
- Sure about whether your operations will continue due to supply-chain disruptions?
- Worried about the origins and safety of your products?
- Concerned about stocking up on extra items?
- Struggling with the idea that you might run out of stock?
For instance, in the case of the Coronavirus, the UK went into lockdown, forcing people to stay at home unless they were doing essential things, like buying food and medicine.
As a result, countless companies started using their sales messaging to remind their clients that they could still purchase products online, and even get zero-contact deliveries.
Adjusting your messages to address the concerns that are top of mind for your audience is a great way to keep cash rolling in to feed your bottom line. Just make sure that you’re using your sales strategies to put your customer’s mind at ease, rather than agitating their feelings of fear.
This isn’t the time to use scare-mongering tactics like telling your audience that you’re running out of stock and won’t be able to support them in the months to come.
Although strategies like this could pay off initially, they also mean that when things calm down, and the crisis settles, your audience won’t be able to trust you.
Finding new sales channels: Improvise, adapt, overcome
As well as changing your sales pitch and operations to suit your crisis situation, you may also need to rethink the avenues and opportunities that you’re taking advantage of.
As more of the world goes into lockdown, people are still going to want to buy things. This creates opportunities for companies to continue to serve their markets through alternative opportunities.
For instance, if a crisis like COVID-19 is stopping foot traffic to your retail store, look at expanding your eCommerce opportunities.
Restaurants in China that never considered takeaway options before began delivering meals when in-store customers diminished, and even some bars started offering takeaway drinks.
Some other great examples of how you can adapt your sales strategy include:
1. Offer a digital version of your service
Many yoga, wellness, and fitness companies were impacted significantly by the COVID-19 issues. Because of this, they decided to start offering live-streamed classes, rather than hosting classes in person.
The Grassroots Fitness Project in New York launched virtual courses specifically for kids, helping them to get their P.E requirements into the day after schools began to close.
The internet and cloud makes it a lot easier for many of us to offer fully-digital versions of our services these days. Why not try something like a webinar or online class for yourself?
2. Replenish supplies of popular products
The COVID-19 epidemic created a massive hand sanitizer shortage around the world. Because of this, companies started to step up and create their own hand sanitizers to replenish supplies.
BrewDog, one of the best-known craft beer companies in the world, began delivering Punk sanitizer to hospitals across the UK in the early days of the lockdown.
Using a crisis as a time to re-assess your portfolio and look for new products to sell is an excellent way to boost your chances of sales. What’s more, if you replenish a crucial shortage, like BrewDog did with hospital hand sanitizers, you’re showing your customers that you really care.
3. Pioneer something new
Times of crisis are the perfect opportunity to let your creativity and innovation shine through. This could be a fantastic opportunity for you to come up with a new product or service that you never would have considered before.
For instance, when Coronavirus cases began to grow in epic proportions, companies around the world started to embrace remote working.
Team-building, a remote company that often hosts in-person events for businesses, started creating unique virtual team-building campaigns specifically intended to improve the way that team members communicated in the growing secluded setting.
The clever virtual campfire events hosted by Team-building allowed them to attract a new kind of customer. Because remote working will continue even after the COVID-19 crisis is over, this could be an ongoing source of extra income for the brand. And team-building will remain as important as ever.
Looking beyond the crisis: Finding opportunities
The critical thing to remember in a crisis situation, is that you’re not just looking for ways to maintain your sales. You want to not only survive this terrible situation but come out of it stronger and more prepared too.
By way of example, B2B companies in the COVID-19 epidemic could benefit from re-evaluating their operations and figuring out how to earn more long-term customers.
Providing regular clients with discounts and free offers if they’re willing to sign up for work over a long-term period is an excellent way to encourage them to stick with your company during times of crisis.
Deals that reduce the prices of products and services when they’re bought in bulk could also be particularly useful during this time when you’re trying to avoid cancellations from crucial customers.
As easy as it might be to panic during these times of crisis, the best thing that sales companies and teams can do, is take every disaster as an opportunity to search for new avenues.
Clever business leaders and sales experts always look at downturns and disasters in the market as a chance to find new solutions and creative alternatives to common problems.
In the case of COVID-19, we’ve seen an unprecedented increase in the number of businesses offering digital versions of their services, allowing employees to work from home, and more.
Rather than crossing your fingers and waiting for the issue to blow over, now is the time to reach out to experts in your field and collaborate on things like advanced new marketing strategies, or virtual product delivery campaigns.
In a world where companies are continually looking for new ways to differentiate themselves from the countless competitors int heir field, crisis moments are an amazing chance to show your clients once and for all what makes you special.
Here at Fabrik, we can offer the consultation support that you need, as well as the graphic design, marketing, and brand promotion skill required to transform your business – even in times of crisis.
If you’re ready to thrive rather than just survive your next crisis moment, contact our team today to find out more. Don’t forget to check out our other excellent guides for sales tips, and marketing guidance too!
Fabrik Brands: Creative Industry.