The state of business and sales today is uncertain. We’re all talking about it, and we’re all doing our best to adjust to the current crisis. What we’re not talking about as much is the aftereffect of this crisis and prepping for what this will mean for sales.
We hope everything will snap back as soon as possible when bans are lifted, and people can get back to in-office and face-to-face work. But it won’t happen as quickly as we anticipate.
Repositioning your products and sales outreach in reaction to current conditions is critical.
But your sales teams need to be repositioning with future conditions in sight. You don’t want to put your team through this exercise again post-corona and post-budget freezes because you didn’t calculate what “not quite back to business as usual” means.
I won’t jump into that just yet, however.
4-Step Product Repositioning to Modernize Sales Outreach
The four steps I’ll cover here will help you reframe how you sold your products yesterday, reposition your products and sales outreach to provide value today, and keep the near future in mind, when we start operating “normally.”
- Step 1: Identify niche markets and use cases
- Step 2: Put your buyers into two buckets (buyers today / buyers tomorrow)
- Step 3: Narrowing your messaging and empathizing with your buyer
- Step 4: Modernize your outbound strategy
Step 1: Identify Niche Markets and Use Cases
Not only are businesses scrambling right now to move their sales and marketing budgets from offline channels to webinars and virtual events and more digital advertising — but they’re struggling to reposition their messaging and value for seemingly new buyers or niche markets.
There are three trends within organizations that sellers are falling into.
First: Companies that are still thriving right now because they’ve found their niche markets and use cases for current needs.
Second: Companies struggling to find their niche markets and use cases because they’re in markets extremely affected by the coronavirus, and their products aren’t flexible enough to fit into other markets.
Third: Companies that fall somewhere between these two extremes.
Most companies are in the third category. They’re struggling to find their niche markets and targeted use cases, but the potential and the fit is there with the right product repositioning and a strategic messaging shift.
This is a huge challenge — and if it’s what you’re struggling with, before you can even begin to reposition your sales outreach and outbound strategy, you’ll have to identify these new target markets.
The way to do this is by focusing on the concepts behind your products rather than the products themselves. In other words, how can you reposition what you do to be relevant today?
I’ll give you an example. Say you’re an HR Tech company whose tool offers a variety of modules. Your trojan horse in the past was your compensation module. Are people thinking about compensation plans right now? Yes, but if only in a specific industry, then double down on that industry and target that niche.
Say the tool also has performance management modules or micro-surveying. Ok, could this be positioned as a remote work module or a remote work engagement module instead of performance management? Probably, and remote work is definitely a pain point for many companies right now, so you’d want to sell this use case.
Step 2: Put Your Buyers Into Two Buckets
After you’ve identified the most immediate niche markets that need your solution, don’t stop there. To effectively modernize your outbound strategy, you want to play the short and long game consecutively.
This means identifying and warming up leads and buyers with a specific future need that you’ve identified.
Your buyers should be split into two buckets.
- The buyers of today whom you identified in Step 1.
- The buyers of tomorrow who will either need your solution during the world’s time of rebuild post-crisis or buyers who will need your solution again when businesses stabilize.
Buyers in the first bucket, where your solution provides a very relevant need right now, should get very specific messaging that is still call-to-action focused. I’ll dive deeper into messaging in Steps 3 and 4.
Buyers in the second bucket — where your solution is a nice-to-have but doesn’t fill an immediate need — should get different, value-driven messaging meant to nurture them and keep your company top of mind. This way, when conditions shift to be more favorable, your product is already in front of them, and you’ve already established yourself as a trusted resource.
Step 3: Narrow Your Messaging and Empathize with the Buyer
Product repositioning requires message repositioning too.
One of the top challenges for sales teams right now is how to be more empathetic and still get their product in front of buyers without sounding overly pitchy.
The first thing Sales (and Marketing) need to do is get off autopilot. If you still have campaigns and sequences scheduled out, cancel them and recalibrate everything to the needs and pain points of bucket-one buyers in Step 2.
We can’t be tone-deaf right now to our prospects and buyers’ situations. Everything you send to leads and prospects has to be relevant to them. Do not just start an email with “I know times are crazy right now” and call it empathetic messaging.
The only way you’ll be able to show any value to buyers is with a one-to-one approach and scaping automated one-size-fits-all sequences and outreach.
We’re no longer practiced to really think about what our buyers are going through at the moment and adapting messaging — even though this is really at the heart of all sales.
Getting back to the fundamentals, if you don’t know how a company makes money — or what your prospect really does in their job — how can you help them? How can you narrow your messaging to precisely what they need versus a blanket statement about your product?
You could give them product information; you don’t need to know anything about anyone to give product information. But you can’t make the product applicable to them and their business, and especially not during times of change when you have to reposition the value of your product.
Step 4: Modernize Your Outbound Strategy
A modern outbound strategy depends on a mix of traditional channels (email and calls), video, and LinkedIn with extremely segmented groups and hyper-targeted sequences.
Traditional (email and phone)
Sales teams are already comfortable with traditional channels, but where many strategies fall short is not segmenting outreach sequences by market, buyer, and solution. Now is the time to get even more narrow and provide that one-to-one experience.
Video and LinkedIn touchpoints between emails and phone calls will optimize your strategy even further.
When face-to-face is off limits, video has an even more significant impact on building purely digital relationships in sales outreach.
Even before people were asked to stay at home, inside sales teams would rarely meet buyers in person. Video helped put a face to the rep and allowed real-time explanations of complicated concepts.
Now, buyers are yearning for the personal connection that happens when you hear the voice of a person AND see them.
LinkedIn is the most relevant social platform for sales professionals because you can promote your business solutions in an organic way, build relationships with buyers, and generate new business.
Integrating LinkedIn into your outbound strategy will allow you to connect with your bucket-one buyers and nurture your bucket-two buyers.
Doubling down on B2B social during this pandemic is a no brainer since everyone is spending more time online and on social media. This is especially true for LinkedIn for business professionals.
Now It’s Your Turn: Take Your New Sales Outreach to Market
Let’s briefly recap. To survive and thrive today, you need to reposition your product and sales outreach to clearly show your value. Here are the four steps to doing that.
Step 1, identify your niche markets and new use cases.
Step 2, put your niche markets in bucket one because they have an immediate need. Nurture companies in bucket two who will shift to an immediate need in the next two to three months.
Step 3, create separate messaging for these two buckets and narrow your outreach messaging even further for bucket one by getting hyper-targeted with industry and buyer roles and creating one-to-one outreach.
In Step 4, take this hyper-targeted new messaging to market with a modern outbound strategy.
Hopefully, this gives you the tools and confidence you need to get started on repositioning your own sales outreach and taking it to market.
The biggest lift will be going back to the drawing board and really digging into what the buyer’s new pain points are and how your solution can relieve it. Google is always a good place to start figuring that out.
And who knows? You may even find new markets you never thought to sell into before.