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3 Things Business Owners must do to Lose Fewer Prospects to ‘the Rona’ Crisis

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This guide probably won’t instantly fix all your woes, though it will help you start to make more of your prospecting potential and sales and marketing budgets—in spite of the ongoing and much maligned covid crisis.

In the 80s and 90s the mantra was ‘ABC’, or ‘always be closing’.

Back then, sales culture was fuelled by a firm belief that the right trigger words could have prospects tripping over themselves to throw their money at us.

That may well be a loose description of the iconic sales movie, Glengarry Glen Ross, starring Al Pacino, though it does roughly reflect the telesales mindset of that time.

With the emergence of social media, mobile technology and a swipe-savvy, power-browsing, choice-rich audience, sales has mutated into a beast of a very different kind.

Today, it’s a multichannel craft of brand positioning, crystal-clear messaging, and pulling the right inbound/outbound levers in the right combination. 

With a great raging pandemic thrown in the mix, that craft need be refined further still.

Moving forward written with domino-like blocks with a compass on the right

Defining and Tackling the Pandemic Problems

Here we’ll frame a few of the roadblocks you’re likely facing before offering a workable, potential fix. We might even tell you a little about how we might contribute to help you get back on the rails, or get more momentum.

First, a brief preface…

As tempting as it is to hit the pandemic panic button and go full-tilt with knee-jerk marketing, you’re better off parking the bus and mapping things out, top-down.

Defining the issues will help break down the headache into lighter, more manageable little headaches that define which elements in your prospecting approach and proposition have shifted out of alignment against the new market conditions and how prospects are now behaving.

So… what do the new challenges we’re facing look like, exactly?

Naturally, different sectors are suffering covid-pains of different kinds, though there are a handful or two of overlapping obstacles we can speak to that have created roadblocks for most of us.

Let’s dive in…

Problem: We Have Fewer Resources, But the Same Overarching Business Goals and Needs.

Unless you were absolutely flying pre-pandemic or have nerves of steel as an employer, you’ve likely made use of the government furlough scheme, or let people go, with a heavy heart. Those that have, now face a tough climb with limited resources, manpower and fewer footholds to leverage from. 

We may be able to park the bus temporarily with HR and employment matters, but we can’t park the bus on actually generating business and survive to tell the tale.

It’s just not an option.

The best way of maximising momentum with a streamlined set of resources is to ensure every action you take has real, quantifiable progress-value. Scrapping KPIs will help you do that, as a first step.

a man is writing his business plans and making calculations. It's an illustration.

Action: Add Objective Key Results (OKRs) to Compliment Your KPIs

KPIs mean different things to different people, perhaps, if we’re honest, sometimes measuring the wrong things and building a false picture of progress that falls apart at the end-of-quarter review in front of the MD.

For example, daily-dials as a sales KPI is akin to the hamster on the wheel; round and round it goes, with lots of energy spent, but no finish lines crossed.

OKRs, on the other hand—that stand for objective key resultsare much more adept in keeping incentives and activities on the rails so that everyone and everything pulls in the same direction toward solid, tangible results.

Let’s look at the side-by-side on KPIs vs OKRs

KPIsOKRs
Measure past progressMeasure progress toward future goals
Cascade top-down (authoritative).Are administered bottom-up (prescriptive).
Are fragmented only visible to individuals, teams and departments.Are transparent and visible throughout the organisation unifying teams and processes.
Prone to creating false incentives, redundancy if not properly managedSeparate what really matters from run-on-the-spot activities.
Are about managing and measuring quantitative past performance at the team or individual levelAre about managing, measuring and progressing qualitative performance at the individual, team and collective level.
Tend to become overly numerical and quantitative.Allow for tracking and progress of qualitative goals KPIs can’t cater for.

What do strong OKRs look like?

The point of OKRs is fundamentally to get stuff done in a way KPIs often fail to.

If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us can think of at least a handful of stuff we’ve had parked on the backburner for ages. Some of it is actually quite important. OKRs will help integrate critical ‘to-dos’—that will bring real change and progress—as progressive, regular activities, instead of items ‘put to one side, for now’.

A loose template for setting iron-clad OKRs looks something like this.

I will…(insert objective), as measured by (insert key result), and achieved by (insert initiatives, actions and ‘work packets’)

Pretty simple, right? To add a little meat on the bones, you might set an OKR to increase over 12 months your net promoter score (NPR) of customers likely to recommend you.

So, for example…

  • Objective: Increase NPR score to [insert value here]
Your key results might look something like this…
  • Month 1: Research and document all the available ways clients/prospects are currently able to share our content and brand value with others, and harvest statistics and metrics on how much/often they are doing this.
  • Month 2: Research and document all relevant methods/channels by which clients/prospects can share our content and brand value are available to us, and reduce that list to those methods/channels that we can realistically and reasonably use.
  • Months 3-6: Create and publish relevant, shareable content targeting the channels identified as relevant for us (Medium, social media, blogs/guest blogs, business forums and groups, Pinterest etc)
  • Months 6-12: Monitor and measure month-by-month share-metrics before finally measuring overall NPR score in month 12.

Note that each of these monthly goals should be broken down into smaller tasks or ‘work packets’ to be assigned and completed by the relevant teams and individuals.

Do this right, and you’ll notice that big business incentives really start to build and grow. You’ll also find that creating and executing OKRs will have a knock-on effect of putting your KPIs under scrutiny, possibly revealing a need to either tweak silly KPIs, or create new ones.

Some Cracking KPI-to-OKR Resources

If you’re as convinced as we are that pulling the KPI to OKR switcheroo is a good idea, tools like Perdoo, Asana or Trello are perfect for logging, tracking and monitoring OKR progress.

You might also enjoy this brilliant Medium resource that’ll help you understand and absolutely nail OKRs in the most sturdy and robust way possible.

Problem: How We Communicate Our Value is out of Alignment.

If you’re on LinkedIn, perhaps you spotted a ‘back to the office’ London underground ad commissioned by Dettol that reads…

Twitter: @helloalegria

the ad attempts to detail aspects of office life that the public may be missing while working at home, including ‘putting on a tie’, ‘the boss’s jokes’ and ‘proper bants.”

Source: the Drum

Seems kind of… ‘fun’ and light hearted, doesn’t it? In reality, the general public collectively facepalmed, making their feelings and disapproval abundantly known on social media.

To put it mildly, the agency responsible—one of significant notoriety and clout—got put in the stocks facing a hail of rotten fruit and unwanted PR of the most regrettable kind.

The issue wasn’t a lack of imagination and creativity—it was imagination and creativity misaligned with where the commuter mindset had shifted to, post covid-lockdown. In a pre-pandemic world the ad might have shon and tickled people in the right places.

An illustration of a target board with lots of business objectives

Action: Revise Your Positioning and Propositioning

Chances are, the kinds of prospects that would convert pre-covid are still the right prospects to go after. However, their tolerance and responsiveness to pre-covid messaging may have radically changed.

How can MDs and business owners avoid such car crash marketing faux-pas as Dettolgate as outlined above?
  • Step 1: Put your covid-crisis cap on and take a step back and have an honest look at your full marketing mix of proposition, pricing, positioning and overall messaging. Review these things mercilessly in the context of how competitors around you have adapted in response to the current moment. Ploughing on with blind spots and a pre-crisis marketing mix might have you stuttering and spluttering your way to ongoing frustration.
  • Step 2: Gather focused feedback from real customers. Involve them. Value their perspectives. Ask ‘thanks, but no thanks’ prospects what made them give you the cold shoulder. Find out what’s on their priorities list now that wasn’t pre-crisis.
  • Step 3: Find someone with their finger already on the covid pulse that can take the temperature of your proposition and how you’re communicating it to prospects.
  • Step 4: Build better proposition messaging and prospect journeys that incorporate your research. Signpost and simplify the prospect and user experience in a way that reduces and removes roadblocks and obstacles as much as possible for prospects who want powerful, straight-forward answers to their buyer-questions
  • Step 5: Actively monitor, test and revise your new proposition signposting and website journey by gathering more feedback from qualified industry experts who will tell you honestly if the new user journeys you’ve created for prospects is clear enough, powerful enough and able to quickly tick their boxes through to actually breaking cover.

For those unfamiliar with the peppering of jargon in all that…

Proposition signposting

Your proposition signposts are the key messages that encourage prospects along their journey through to conversion.

For example, your top-line website headings, the way you write about your product or service, your sales sequences and calls to action, and so on.

Prospect and User Experience (UX)

Your user ‘experience’—commonly referred to simply as UX—can be any touchpoint prospects and clients have with your brand.

This might be on the phone or by email with your customer services team, via your social presence or via your website.

Your website UX, specifically, consists of the collective impact of how you’re signposting your proposition to point folks past what they want to know.

Poorly signposted propositions lead to high bounce rates, leaky sales pipelines and flight-prone prospects that get cold feet—despite actually needing exactly what you’re offering—for lack of a cohesive user experience that properly handholds them past the things they need to know, clearly and effectively.

A website UX tidy up can be one of the quickest ways to get more leads in the door from your existing traffic, or even boosting traffic.

If you know in your heart of hearts your website might not be pulling its weight, we’re pretty handy with giving your prospect website journey the once-over and briefing you on what you need to do.

Have a look at the UX Teardown we offer—it could be just the thing to start getting things on the rails again to convert those who are quietly slipping away and going elsewhere. Or simply speak to us if you need a bit of general advice and some friendly guidance.

A man running from his assumptions to insights

Problem: Your Prospects Aren’t in the Office to Be Gotten Hold Of

Whatever side of the work-from-home debate you’ve dug your heels into, the one thing we can all agree on is that things will be topsy turvy for a while, if not permanently, in terms of how many bums on seats you’ll find back at HQ.

If your lead generation strategy includes an outbound sales team, this spells trouble, and they’d likely give their dial finger for a day’s worth of at least having got past the fire-breathing gatekeeper.

The bitter truth is that we’re currently scattered all over the shop with many of us doing the domestic-office hustle in a shirt and joggers.

Ok, some decision makers openly publish a mobile contact on LinkedIn, or have office calls routed to them but, overall, it’s increasingly tricky to get someone on the blower.

With some businesses cutting costs by going all-in with the work-from-home model, we’re compensating for not sharing the same space by jamming our calendars with video call catchups.

Call prospects at home with the kids and wall-to-wall with Zoom calls and you’ve likely lost them as a prospect for good or, at the very least, made a poor first impression you’ll struggle to overturn.

different user touchpoint examples in honeycomb shape

Solution: Build More and Better Brand-Touchpoints Across Multiple Channels

We’re going to put the cat amongst the pigeons here—you can sell by email, and via social media, and via a well-crafted written piece of content. Of course, any one of those isn’t going to do it alone. But neither is a single phone call.

Start-to-finish lead conversion will involve an actual conversation somewhere along the line, though there’s no question that a combination of a well timed, brilliantly-crafted email backed up by solid, value-add content and social media presence can be the tinder that sparks that conversation.

Why? Because all those things together light the bulb over prospects’ heads.

Collectively, we call brand touchpoints that don’t involve ‘interruption marketing’—like a ringing phone—inbound marketing (but you knew that already) and it’s hard to overstate how important creating inbound marketing touchpoints is. Especially in a post-Rona context in which prospects find themselves overwhelmed with life-admin and worry.

On average “it takes around seven brand touch points before someone will internalise and/or act upon your call to action.

Source: socialmediatoday

Yes, it takes time, energy and expertise to create great content, social presence and other inbound brand touchpoints, though it pays off in the long run as stronger leads start funnelling into your short, mid and long-term pipeline. Ultimately, it’s about laying the seeds and then reaping the rewards sustainably over time.

The more touch points you create to warm prospects to your brand and what it offers, the better a reception your sales team will get when they do get into prospects’ ears—and the more back doors you’ll build through which prospects can arrive at your website.

Though your website needs to be properly geared to actually convert. Your entire prospect journey—across all touchpoints—needs to match fluidly, or your prospecting net will develop holes.

Thanks for reading.

an illustration of a successful business

We Love Lifting the Hood on Websites. Perhaps We Can Help.

This three-step walkthrough is by no means exhaustive, and different circumstances require different actions, though we hope it does at the very least bring a ray of hope and encouragement that there absolutely are levers you can pull to build more pipeline momentum in the current circumstances.

If you’ve already cast out the trawler nets of inbound digital marketing incentives, but aren’t pulling in the hauls you anticipated, a Digital Audit is probably a good idea to tighten the holes in the net and ensure you move into the post-crisis environment with inbound strategy ticking over nicely.

This is something we’re truly versed in, and we can help. Without breaking the bank we’ll deliver..

  • A review of our findings after assessing your site top-down.
  • A robust, data-driven document to build your digital strategy around
  • A face-to-face presentation where you get to Q&A us at your leisure.
  • 120-page report of website/marketing actions and recommendations.
  • Robust forecast for CRO, Paid Search robust, data-driven document to build your digital strategy around, SEO and more.
  • A full usability review to identify where your users struggle on your website.

If this humble little guide has gotten you thinking, and you’ve questions relating to other stuff you can do to get the wheels turning that little bit quicker as we start to move into a strange and unchartered time for business owners and leaders, drop us a note. We might just listen and put out further guides to address what’s on people’s minds.

Written by
Lee Hill

Lee Hill

Founder and MD
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