The pains that your business was solving a few weeks ago (before COVID-19) look nothing like the pains you are solving today. In all cases, your sales and marketing strategy must shift during this time and if that wasn’t enough to ask, you must shift quickly. Agility is the name of the game.

Logic alone will tell you if your customers’ pains are changing, then customers’ buying habits are also changing, therefore you should also be changing. Because the best businesses always follow and serve the pain.

To draw on an analogy, as the housing market can shift from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market, your sales and marketing strategy is experiencing a major shift at this time. Here’s some advice from the trenches.

The shift from traditional selling to unconventional serving

Simply put, we have moved from traditional selling to unconventional serving.   Fostering relationships and providing value to your existing and prospective customers matter the most during these times.

In fact, it’s really all that matters. These moments in time have the ability to make or break your reputation.

We are in some historically unpredictable times with no defined timetable. The rules change every day as new information emerges, so you also have to be swift on your feet and act quickly to focus on serving the pain that you are still learning about. Simple, right!?

This is a tricky, yet pivotal time for so many businesses. You need to step up, but you need to do it thoughtfully. Here’s an inside look at our own internal planning framework to guide you.

If you find yourself asking any of these questions, We would love to offer some advice from years of serving businesses like yours.

  • You’re not sure what your customers are dealing with, so you’re finding it hard to help them at times like this.
  • You know you need to be out there, but you don’t know where to start.
  • You’re not sure how to communicate your message in the most impactful way.
  • You have ideas but aren’t really sure how to tackle them.
  • You’re not sure your current sales and marketing tactics make sense at this time.
  • You’re not sure how to serve your customers’ pains at this time.

The 5 key building blocks of a sales and marketing strategy

The most successful sales and marketing strategies contain 5 core elements.

1.) Target Marketing

Customer dynamics change, especially amidst a worldwide crisis, and without proper feedback loops, you could miss out on important shifts and needs of your customers.

  • Your customers’ problems are different, do you know what they are?
  • Who needs your help more than ever right now?
  • Why do they need it?  What can’t they do without you?
  • How can you reinvent serving your customers’ needs today and going forward?

If you are still trying to serve the pains of yesterday (before COVID-19), I’d advise you to stop bombarding your customers and wasting your money and resources on efforts that will ruin your reputation. If you haven’t adjusted your strategy, do that immediately.

2.) Value Proposition and Messaging

Great brands understand how to strike the balance of understanding customer needs with empathy. And that perfect balance shines through in everything they do and say.

  • When relationships are key to your business, you must lead with trust.
  • Companies doing more of the same will fail.
  • Learn how to build trust as a partner by adding value and helping solve pains.
  • Be honest with your community and know that it’s OK to not have all the answers.

Clearly defined brands are remembered. Think of 1 large brand at the forefront right now. Their iconic branding and messaging are clearly defined, consistently presented, and intelligently refreshed during this time.

3.) Content Marketing

Rule numero uno!  When you create content, you create it to serve.  This is only about them, this is not about you or your business.  If you even think of leading with anything about yourself or your company, just.stop.now.  And thank me later. (You’re welcome)

  • Your customers’ problems are different, do you know what they are?
  • What problems are they trying to solve?
  • What are you in a unique position to do to make their life easier right now?
  • What is complicating their life right now and keeping them from moving forward?

Content is the key to building trust through value.  Content comes in many forms so you need to be thinking outside of your box, and then outside of that box.

  • Checklists
  • Webinars
  • QAs
  • FAQs
  • Community forums
  • Connections to help
  • Virtual Meetups
  • Action Plans
  • Curated Information
  • Advisory Calls
  • Strategy Sessions
  • Articles | Blogs

The list goes on.  Follow the pain and think BIG on how to deliver solutions to solve it.  That answer alone makes up your content plan.

4.) Sales and Marketing Alignment

The balance of how sales and marketing work together can vary by industry and size of company.  There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but if you aren’t revisiting your sales and marketing strategy right now, I think you are doing yourself a huge disservice.  They are both important, but their jobs should be shifting to serve the customer today.

  • Help, don’t sell.
  • Solve their pains today.
  • Thoughtfully consider the best ways to communicate with them now.
  • Execution and alignment between sales and marketing are crucial right now.
  • Striking the right balance of human and personal connection is key and will make or break your brand.

Sales (or your relationship keepers) are the closest to the customer pain.  Marketing should be working in partnership with sales to deliver tools and content to help sales do their jobs.

This is a time to deepen relationships.  There has never been a more critical time to ensure marketing and sales are aligned and working together for the greater good.

5.) Integrated Campaign and Planning

Campaign planning is where the building blocks all come together to guide your planning.

  • How do we share this in the most effective way?
  • Where is our audience consuming information right now?
  • What channels will be most effective for which messages?
  • What will our audience appreciate the most during this time (delivery)?

This is also where the art of marketing comes into play and why I love marketing so much!  You have to think outside of the box. This demands new solutions to new pains. Think Big :

  • Smaller services
  • Complimentary services
  • Tools to help them
  • Foster online communities to help like-minded people share ideas

You’re now clear on your core target customer, you understand the new value you can offer at this time, you create the tools and resources they need right now, you deliver it in an integrated way through personal and digital channels, and make sure your sales team and marketing teams are speaking and working in lock step at all times.  Voila!

The Bottom Line: Big players make big plays during big times

Business will resume. When it does, we don’t know what it will look like.  Budgets may be stalled, indefinitely, but not forever. Tomorrow will be different, that we know for sure.

Ask yourself how you should be embracing these new opportunities to meet your customers’ pain. Now more than ever, your customers, regardless of who they are, are struggling. Meet them where they are. Know them. Understand them. Serve them.

Right now, as a leader, your customers’ pains should be at the forefront of your mind. Your messaging at this time will make or break your sympathetic voice.

This blog was written by  Shannon Prager from LeadITMarketing, a fully outsourced marketing service business specialised in B2B technology and B2B professional services companies. Head to their website for even more great content and to see how they can help you get your marketing strategy on track.

From time to time guest contributors write on the Workbooks Blog – have something to say? Email Emma at emma.wright@workbooks.com