In the world of consumerism, it’s not enough to only create a product, but also to employ a set of skills that will attempt to connect and cater the product or service to a target audience. Starting with ancient times when people would use a stand and their oratorical skills to appeal to the public, sales and marketing tactics haven’t changed that much through the years except the technology behind them. As all businesses do, the tactics employed are expected to be as efficient as possible with a maximum profit whilst requiring the least investment, and that’s where a lot of shady practices can cross the line in favour of profit.
Moreover, the way people see products and perceive marketing messages and sales techniques, as well as their awareness, have evolved remarkably. Regardless of who you’re targeting — fellow companies or consumers, you should consider a set of behaviours to avoid, especially during today’s challenging circumstances, so that you’d be sure that your business relationships would last.
1. Pushy sales techniques during hard times
Of course, the storm cannot last forever, and the businesses have already slowly but surely begun to get back on track even though the pandemic is not totally over yet. Trying to close a sale at any price and acting pushy has always been quite unethical. Now, with the consequences the world is facing, it is more than disreputable. Even if you are not being pushy on purpose, making sales calls and offers without knowing the real situation of the B2B prospect you are contacting might leave a painful mark on your reputation. Doing your homework and showing your understanding of the situation, on the other hand, will prove to be a good investment for a future business relationship and for the image of your company.
2. Promoting your product while ignoring your B2B partners’ and prospects’ perspective
Yet another mistake made by many businesses, especially in 2020, is talking about their product the same way they did before the pandemic and its consequences. Your audience has changed, and so should your proposition. Do not ignore the real value your product can bring today and try to get in your clients’ and prospects’ shoes. Among the questions you should look up the answers for are whether their supply chains have been affected, what is their human resources situation, whether they are facing liquidity or other shortages, or tech and security-related issues. Put your audience’s perspective first, adjust your pitch accordingly and, of course, listen carefully to everything the person on the other side of the line has to say.
3. Making promises you can’t keep
Same as overselling the product, promising features and value that you cannot deliver will bring nothing but a short-term interest before the product gets on the market, where countless companies will post their impression of it and provide others with the actual worth at hand. The short interest bubble might bring a small fan-base expecting something to change in the foreseeable future and a massive backlash from the rest of the audience. Nobody wants to be promised the sea and the stars, only to get salt in return for their money, especially businesses. Therefore, make sure that both your B2B clients and prospects are fully aware of the real value the product you have on offer brings them.
4. Forgetting to be reasonable and missing on real deals
As long as the recovery trend is not yet stable, you shouldn’t ignore what your clients and, especially, prospects have to say. For example, when a prospect is telling you that it is not the best time right now, do not follow up on them the very next week or month to ask the same question. It is not the end of the world, and there are plenty of businesses that keep afloat and even prosper. Therefore, instead of wasting time on usual sales practices and wrong leads, focus on those prospects who are both willing and able to close the deal, and make their experience with your business as pleasant as you can.
5. Leaving customers in the dark about promotion or pricing changes
Transparency of actions is what provides customers with a sense of safety, one that shouldn’t be breached. When the companies are open about their actions and take into account feedback provided by the more active members of their audience, they set in stone a feeling of trust and assure a high follower count looking towards their next line of products. Therefore, possible cuts on the marketing may seem tolerable because of the existent safe and successful methods. Once uncovered, this type of practices will prove distasteful, and when the wave of news reaches the public, might even be grounds for class action lawsuits.
6. Misinterpreting political correctness and riding a wave of controversial values
While one of the premises of trading is indeed making one’s product desirable, at all costs avoid riding short-wave value projection propaganda initiated by the populace so as to extend your sphere. The last couple of years have witnessed several scandals ignited by how companies tried to include a number of small minorities whilst dismissing any feedback from current customers and borderline insulting them, leading to chaos and frustration. Persuading groups of people by attacking their beliefs just for the sake of faking their public persona has been the headline for quite a few events like that.
7. Not having properly trained customer support or relying extensively on automation
We all have had some sort of trouble with making a purchase or trying to change services. The “frontier line” of businesses is the customer support department, which tries to ameliorate any qualms of either resenting or curious clients. Some rely on phone lines others rely on emails and live chat, but in the end, they all try to achieve the same goal.
However, customers can be numerous but the department has only a limited number of employees, so as a measure, automation is implemented: robotic calls, phone queues, email auto-response. With burning desire a customer will endure the waiting time so as to quickly try to solve whatever problem he/she is facing, but then he/she gets one of the disappointing realities: the customer representative lacks the necessary power or information to help, gets greeted by the same auto-response time and time again. They all just pile nicely, an act to deter most problems away or delaying them as much as possible. Oftentimes people will also notice the discontinuity in certain businesses when the leading office implements services in such a way that even their trained staff don’t know about it. Properly dealing with issues at the start is important. Even if it’s slow, the pace will improve over time with careful investments.
Based on: How To Sell In Crisis