How Sales Technology Has Evolved in the COVID-19 Era

Fight or Flight. It’s the primal human response that occurs when faced with a harmful or threatening event. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many industries and professionals to make quick transitions to fight this challenge, or take flight and let the pandemic win. The B2B sales industry was no exception. According to a study by Business2Community, COVID-19 has caused a 73.9% decrease in B2B sales opportunities. How has the industry fought this harsh reality?

B2B sales went digital and, more importantly, adopted sales technology to not only assist with this transition, but also gain insights, advice and enhance productivity during this time of crucial change. Sales technology provided the tools the B2B industry needed to stand up to the fight. But finding success through the use of sales technology took place in phases.

According to McKinsey and Company, the three phases of the COVID response for the sales industry are: 

  1. Navigating the Crisis
  2. Preparing for Recovery
  3. Reimagining the Next “Normal’

Each phase has played a crucial role in the efforts we have seen from sales technology through the COVID-era so far. Let’s take a closer look at how each breaks down:

Phase 1: Navigating the Crisis

The first step to any response is surveying the damage and navigating through it. That’s exactly what vidREACH did beginning in late March 2020. In sales, human interaction is a core component, and finding a way to imitate that in a virtual setting was necessary for the sales industry to achieve long-term success. According to a study by Google, 64% of B2B buyers have increased their use of online video. Seeing this drastic increase affirmed the need for video sales technology as B2B sales teams navigate this crisis.

vidREACH, a video email and sales engagement platform, introduced vidREACH Individual. CEO Sean Gordon told MediaPost this product assists sales teams in achieving “enhanced human-to-human connections straight from a phone or video email solution to help sales teams improve engagement with customers and prospects.” Core features include the ability to send, track engagement analytics and easily integrate with Gmail, Outlook and Salesforce, in order to create a more human-to-human interaction throughout the new virtual sales process. vidREACH and its email video solution made the first step in the road to recovery. 

Phase 2: Preparing for Recovery

After the initial shockwave rolls through and you have navigated the transition, it’s time to prepare for recovery. This doesn’t mean preparing for the problems, but moreso, looking at the current situation, analyzing customer needs and finding your opportunity. In the COVID-19 era, customers need data, personalization and trust before purchase. 

For the sales enablement and content management platform Mediafly, this realization led to the development of a content hub that provides customers with personalized and evidence-based sales content, which launched in July 2020. In the Startup Selling Podcast, Carson Conant, CEO of Mediafly, talked about the importance of integrating personalized and interactive content within the sales process through sales technology. Conant said, “If you create content that is more interactive, more dynamic and more data-driven, you can arm the salespeople with a better story and you can show [customers] that it is in their best interest to use [your product].”

Mediafly’s content hub accounted for the needs of prospects and customers. In order for businesses to recover their sales pipeline, it was essential to incorporate data, personalization and trust into the sales process. Mediafly realized that essential component and integrated that ability into their platform, allowing B2B businesses to sail through this unprecedented time, heading for recovery in what will likely be a new normal.

Phase 3: Reimagining the Next “Normal”

Life as we know it will look a little different in the post-COVID era. For example, Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics, predicts 25-30% of the workforce will be working virtually multiple days a week by the end of 2021. With the continuance of a highly virtual workflow, sales teams are looking for ways to succeed in the next “normal.” 

Chorus.ai is helping achieve success in the virtual sales process by providing a sales technology tool that uses AI to track and analyze virtual pitches so sales teams can close deals even if all their buyers operate virtually. WIRED covered a story in October 2020 on how Chorus’ sales technology tool is helping MavenLink enhance its sales efforts. Jeramee Waldum, President of Global Sales for Mavenlink, said Chorus helped his team secure a deal by analyzing their pitches, providing coaching recommendations, tracking analytics and more to identify and highlight the client’s concerns. Upon this insight from Chorus, MavenLink structured their sales efforts to align with the client’s specific needs, leading to a successful sale. 

While we’re not out of the woods in regard to the pandemic, the determination and effort put forth shows the sales technology industry is following the path to return B2B sales to success. vidREACH, Mediafly and Chorus are only a few cases of many sales technology platforms fighting to ensure sales success throughout our journey and into the next “normal.”

Is your sales technology platform enhancing the success of virtual B2B sales? Contact Lindsey Groepper to find out how BLASTmedia can share your solution.

Using PR Coverage to Speak to B2B SaaS Buyers

Let’s say we’re pre-COVID-19, and we’re at a cocktail party. We’re in a group of five people of different genders and ages. I’m telling a story and I’m trying to explain TikTok.

Some of the people I’m talking to will already know what TikTok is. Some will need me to explain it. Let’s say the conversation turns to 8-tracks. Some people will instantly know what they are and some will need an explanation.

TikTok and 8-tracks aside, this example shows just how important it is to consider your audience. This guiding principle applies to PR for SaaS companies. Unlike trying to sell a pair of headphones or a sleeping bag, SaaS audiences are quite diverse. After all, a SaaS app has not one but at least three buyers: users, influencers and decision-makers. 

The great thing about PR coverage is that it can be used in SaaS sales to speak to each buyer, addressing different pain points for each and taking a different approach based on where they are in the purchase stage. 

Prospects and current customers

Your prospects and current customers are your users. They’re looking to be educated about tactical execution to be better at their jobs. This could come in the form of best practices, customer stories or new techniques. Trade media is the best avenue for this content. Not only will this type of content help target buyers do better work, but it also helps SaaS companies demonstrate tactical expertise in a target vertical.

Trade media is also a target for company-focused news like executive hires, integrations and product announcements. Prospective and current customers are more likely to be invested in this type of news, whereas national press would think those announcements are too in the weeds.

Finally, trade coverage is an excellent resource for SaaS sales reps to use in touchpoints for prospects. This type of coverage, especially something like a case study with ROI metrics, can show a prospective customer exactly how a solution can be harnessed for optimal performance, pushing them further into the sales cycle.

Influencers

Influencers in the SaaS sales process are those that influence the purchase but, aren’t the end-user of the platform. Let’s say you’re trying to implement a CDP. You’ll definitely need buy-in from the IT department. If you’re implementing a GRC platform for GDPR compliance, you’ll need buy-in from the marketing department.

It’s vital for these tangential buyers to have some sort of content dedicated to them so they feel incorporated in the decision-making process. Content for them can appear in their department trade vertical (marketing, IT, compliance) to meet them where they are. This way, they have more information about how a potential solution may work for them, too.

Decision-makers 

Your decision-makers aren’t in the nitty-gritty like a SaaS user ( though there are occasional exceptions). They need to know the value a solution could deliver to the organization — and brand notoriety won’t hurt either. There are a couple of ways this can manifest in media coverage. 

First, through customer stories. Yes, I mentioned this previously in the section about prospects and customers. But, through a decision-maker’s lens, customer stories can prove just how impactful a certain solution can be. Take this example of Moogsoft’s impact at Fannie Mae. Because the article is in a top-tier business publication, a more diverse audience is reading it than those who might be reading, say, DevPro Journal. This builds the brand’s credibility outside of trade verticals, legitimizing it to various departments.

Second, other coverage in top-tier outlets builds the brand’s credibility outside of what the solution actually does. Perhaps you’ve heard of the company Moz, but you don’t know exactly what it does. Because you’ve heard of Moz, though, you might be more inclined to pay for their solution over a competitor, simply because of brand recognition. Coverage contributing to this can span a wide range of topics including civil issues, leadership strategies, commentary about the software market and more.

As you can see, there’s always a way to reach any buyer in the SaaS sales process with media coverage. If you’re looking for more information about how to help your organization do this and more, contact Lindsey Groepper.

Giving Thanks and Increasing Brand Awareness for B2B Tech Companies

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and the team here at BLASTmedia has plenty to be thankful for this year. We have seen coverage increase website traffic, create lead generation, and help B2B technology companies increase brand awareness. Take a look at some of the coverage we are thankful for this month. Continue reading “Giving Thanks and Increasing Brand Awareness for B2B Tech Companies”