Today's post is by Austin Ries, a content marketing manager for Zoho. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.
Analysts have long sounded the alarm about the inevitable market transformations and crises that all businesses will face. Enterprises that survive transform themselves into organizations that innovate quickly during times of change and disruption.
A global pandemic and economic fallout twice as big as the Great Recession may not have been the crisis they had in mind, but here we are, two-thirds of the way through 2020, and nothing is business as usual. It was a historically bad second quarter in the United States. Consumers halted spending and businesses cut investments resulting in a 9.5% reduction in GDP, 19 straight weeks of more than a million unemployment benefit filings, and the temporary and permanent closures of millions of small businesses.
The impact has been especially acute for salespeople who have had to pivot their approach now that trade shows, customer visits, and in-person meetings are no longer an option. We are in a moment when, according to McKinsey & Company, a reported 90% of sales happen remotely, and sales leaders are desperate for new ways to connect with customers and define success across their department.
This is an important and necessary response to the current moment, and for a future that no one predicted at the beginning of the year. The warnings are now a reality. Survival depends on making adjustments and embracing new ways of caring for customers, primarily through listening and sharing feedback.
Listen to your customers
Listening to your customers has always been a fundamental part of sales, but it's especially important now when businesses are rethinking expenses and looking for new ways to save. Salespeople can proactively reach out to customers to hear how they're handling the current climate and its impact on their day-to-day operations.
One of the most effective ways you can build loyal and long-term customer relationships is through routine customer surveys. By connecting your online survey builder with your CRM or email marketing platform, you can combine NPS and CSAT survey responses with the respondent's data inside your CRM to get a complete picture of your customer's current mindset, and respond accordingly.
And because you sent the surveys from the CRM, the responses are automatically synced and stored inside the customer contact, so sales, marketing, and support can view all the responses and be aligned. This unified approach to customer experience is no longer a differentiator. The modern customer expects it.
Remember, these are not surveys to sell upgrades or extend contracts. Leaders and reps have to approach clients during this time without an agenda and with the simple intention of listening. It's about making a human connection where you understand their hardships and goals, and how they're approaching an uncertain future.
Spread the word
The insights you gain after client conversations and interactions shouldn't end when your meeting does. That's when you share the information with your sales teams and begin brainstorming creative and strategic ways to respond.
Some companies are doing this through daily team stand-ups or video calls to relay feedback to customer-facing teams and top leadership. Openly sharing customer mindsets and perspectives across the organization unites the team around a common goal of supporting the customer with creativity and empathy. From there, everyone can rally to address challenges innovatively, such as creating new content—live and recorded webinars, podcasts, and interactive infographics—about the new ways of working and sharing it through personalized emails or on social media.
Ultimately, this is a moment for practicing empathy. It's a moment for using the time you would have spent traveling or meeting prospects in person to put yourself in your customer's shoes and work to make their lives easier so they stay your customer for a long time.
Current events are impacting everyone differently. Many companies are treading water, slashing budgets, and doing everything possible to survive. Others may be moving ahead like nothing has changed and need a new solution to achieve their business goals.
But in a time when nothing is certain, one thing is: You won't know the answer unless you ask.
A full view of a customer's needs is only possible when customer-facing teams work from the same platform. Sign up for a free trial of Zoho CRM Plus, Zoho's customer experience platform, and learn how a unified technology stack can accelerate your upmarket growth.