May is not only bringing the refreshing blooms of spring to Michigan, but also a renewed hope for the gradual reopening of our economy. During the coming weeks, automotive companies will focus on safely returning to the workplace. However, it will be some time before partners, suppliers and customers will engage in travel, face-to-face meetings and in-person events. So how do mobility innovators, entrepreneurs and technology companies stay engaged with customers and prospects?
The B2B sales environment was already complex and challenging before the pandemic; according to Harvard Business Review, customers have an average of 6.8 people involved in purchases and are typically 57% of the way down the purchase path before they consider engaging with a supplier’s sales team. So where are customers learning, how might this change in a post-COVID-19 world, and how can suppliers adapt to stay engaged?
The good news is that customers are engaged in learning before purchasing; the challenge is that their pre-transaction legwork has clearly moved to digital channels. Hubspot, a marketing, sales and service software platform, has been collecting weekly trend data from 70,000 customers worldwide since March 1 on how the global health crisis has impacted sales and marketing. Data for the manufacturing and computer software industries indicate significant increases in customer-led conversations and marketing email open rates — even though sales email open rates and deals are down.
Customers are consuming educational content and engaging in digital interactions. On April 30, McKinsey published an article titled, “The B2B digital inflection point: How sales have changed during COVID-19.” Two key takeaways from the sales and customer input: 1) B2B sales leaders rate digital channels approximately twice as important now compared with before the pandemic; 2) When researching products, customers’ preference for digitally enabled sales interactions has jumped significantly, with suppliers’ mobile apps and social media or online communities showing their sharpest increases since 2019.
With the escalation of customer-led digital engagement and the decrease in outbound activities, now is an ideal time to invest in your digital marketing and sales strategy. This can seem overwhelming with thousands of software tools available in the marketplace. The model below leverages best practices to simplify a digital initiative for small companies – at a reasonable cost. Educational content is presented through various digital channels to attract, engage and delight clients, creating new opportunities that are managed in Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
Take advantage of this quiet time – and the renewed optimism in the air this spring – to invest in digital to educate today and drive growth tomorrow.