The 2020 global health crisis prompted, arguably, the biggest supply chain disruption in decades. A lack of available product, a shortage of drivers to get that product to customers and the added headache of shipping under complex Brexit-driven rules meant that businesses were placed under huge operational strain. Some even ground to a complete halt.
This sudden brake on operations encouraged many businesses to reassess for a post-Covid-19 landscape. Progressive organisations took the opportunity to examine their operations and adapt their processes and departments while time permitted.
So, what should you do when your sales team is left with nothing to sell? Let’s examine the positive and proactive actions that can turn a supply-chain crisis into an opportunity. Be sure to read each, you may just be struck with inspiration.
Active Account Management
When supply chains are disrupted, it’s safe to assume that your competitors will be facing the same challenges as you. This means that it’s a great opportunity for you to focus on assuring your customers of your commitment to them, and cement existing relationships.
By being transparent about your circumstances and sharing what you’re doing to find solutions you can build trust. Better still, by speaking to customers regularly, you will reaffirm your commitment to them – and you might even hear of new, otherwise unknown opportunities.
Research New Customer Possibilities
Successful businesses are always looking for new ways to increase their customer base. However, meeting the needs of existing customers takes priority over exploring new, different, untried markets. A little extra flexibility in your daily routine allows sales teams to research and identify new prospects, collating this into actionable data.
Use the available downtime to explore new prospect data. Identify target companies and research the appropriate decision-makers on LinkedIn, then pick up the phone to validate your research. It’s a great way to identify a list of potential new customers, and with a little effort you can significantly boost your prospect database for when supply chains are moving more readily.
Target Dormant Customers
Sales teams are often guilty of focusing all their attention on current prospects and customers at the expense of building relationships with dormant customers. However, the extra flexibility that sales teams have in their daily schedule is a great opportunity to reach out to customers who haven’t made a recent enquiry or purchase.
Remember, people buy into people they like. By taking the incentive to assure dormant customers that despite not placing an order for a while, their business is still valued, you in turn make them feel valued and, hopefully, they’ll approach you as soon as they have a requirement.
And don’t forget the customers who never were. The ones that got away – the pitch or proposal than you didn’t win. They were interested in you in the past so it’s fair to assume they could be in the future. Mine your lost opportunities, you might strike gold!
Organise Customer Databases
Whilst you’re researching new customer possibilities, spend some time organising existing customer databases. It’s likely your data and CRM is not as up to date as it could be. Previous contacts could have left their roles. Contact details could have changed. Decision-makers could have left. New decision-makers could have been hired.
Having access to the latest data is paramount if only for the reason that it provides you with a solid foundation to launch from once supply chain disruption has come to an end.
Connect With Marketing Teams
The most successful sales and marketing campaigns work in tandem, with goals outlined and actions aligned. A little more flexibility gives sales teams the chance to connect with colleagues in the marketing department and hone actions.
Find out what campaigns they are running and what campaigns are being planned for the future. Check that customer personas are up to date. Enquire if they’re planning to target new marketplaces. Build knowledge. All this and more will make sales teams more effective when speaking to prospects and customers.
When Opportunity Knocks…
Even if your sales team can’t sell at the moment, it doesn’t mean they can’t be productive. And while the suggestions listed in this article are great to keep up activity when things are quiet, they’re actually best practice all year round.
So when your sales team is flat out again, you can still be proactive with a good outsourced sales partner. At Bollin Green, we can take the day-to-day outbound sales tasks off your hands, leaving your sales team to sell. Prospecting, list building, appointment setting and market research can all be managed by our specialist SDR team.