The COVID-19 crisis has caused B2B sales organizations to re-evaluate their sales processes, re-tool their sales pitches, and otherwise adapt to fast-changing conditions in an environment of unprecedented uncertainty. But there are two aspects of B2B sales operations that are sometimes underrated and overlooked even during the best of times: lead qualification and lead management. During this time of crisis, and even after the economy emerges into a New Normal, qualifying your sales leads, and then managing, nurturing and re-ranking your sales leads over time, is more important than ever.
COVID Sales Lead Qualification and Management
Here are a few reasons why your B2B sales team needs to put lead qualification and lead management at the top of your priority list during COVID-19.
Lead Qualification Helps Prioritize Your Sales Efforts
During a time of crisis like COVID-19, it might seem like there’s no such thing as a bad sales lead. The truth is more complicated. During COVID-19, there has been a slowdown of demand in many industries; many prospects are reluctant to buy or are cutting back on spending or delaying their purchases. This means that you need to keep spending time on lead qualification. Have a good process in place to qualify and evaluate sales leads with every inbound call and every outbound conversation: figure out which prospective customers are really showing interest in being ready to buy, which ones are delaying their spend, and which ones are not the right fit for what you sell.
When there’s a decrease in buyer demand, that doesn’t mean you should be indiscriminate in taking on all new sales leads and assuming they’re all eager to buy and treating them all the same. Some sales leads are better than others. Some prospects are ready to buy, some are just starting their process of doing research, and some might never be the right fit for what you sell. And that’s OK!
Good sales leads are precious during a crisis, and so is your sales team’s time. If you can get more precise at qualifying your sales leads, you can figure out what are the right ways to allocate your sales people’s time and energy.
Lead Qualifying and Lead Management Help Clarify Your Value Proposition
A big trend in B2B sales right now that we’re seeing from lots of clients is that some B2B buyers are still spending money, but they’re spending differently. They might be delaying big purchases until later in 2020 or till next year. Or, they might be cutting back on budgets. They might be canceling projects with big vendors and choosing to work with multiple small suppliers instead.
By having some in-depth lead qualifying conversations, you can learn more about what your prospects are really trying to accomplish, and find more nimble, agile ways for your company to deliver on their needs. They might not need your most elaborate, expensive package of solutions, they might need you to fit into a smaller budget. But there might be more opportunity here for your company, depending on what you sell. It’s a good time to be a small business, in some ways, because you might be more adaptable to the needs of the moment.
Manage Leads for the Long-Term
The COVID-19 crisis has been a terribly stressful event to live through, but there are many signs of hope. Some companies have reopened for business, others have resumed spending, others are seeing signs of growth for the rest of 2020. Lead management needs to be a long-term activity. Just because your prospects aren’t ready to buy today doesn’t mean they won’t be ready in a few months.
That’s one of the enduring lessons of working in B2B sales: the whole situation can change (sometimes for the worse, but often for the better) in just a few months! Your prospect might get better clarity about their budget, they might decide to outsource some different business functions, they might gain a big contract that gives them more money to spend on your solution, or one of your competitors might go out of business which opens up opportunity for you.
Having a good lead qualifying, lead ranking and lead management process in place will help you to evaluate, adapt, and capitalize on opportunities for the long-term. No matter how many business leads you have in your pipeline, no matter what’s happening with the broader economy, it’s important to invest some time and effort in understanding your business leads: how ready are they to buy, how well-informed are they about your solutions, how good of a fit are they for what they sell, and how can you add the most value to build a good relationship and close the sale? Lead qualification and lead management will help you prioritize your sales efforts and focus on the right activities throughout the current crisis, and beyond.
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