At late 2019 and early 2020 sales kickoffs and strategy meetings, leadership came to the table with winning ideas for how to strategically employ sales and marketing budgets for greatest impact. Yet the global pandemic and its disruption to businesses everywhere has derailed too many of those well intentions for the end of 2020 beyond the point of saving.
The question is not if you should redeploy your sales and marketing budgets for the second half of 2020 but rather how to best do so with an integrated strategy to drive a Revenue Rebound.
Do not waste your dollars sticking to the status quo. Business and markets are always changing — and we have all experienced a historical economic shift. Your budget should follow suit.
Shifting Sales Budget
Typically, aside from salaries/compensation, the largest line-item in sales budgets is travel and entertainment expenses (T&E): mileage, flights, client dinners, etc. But in the light of social distancing and shelter-in-place guidelines, many salespeople are literally grounded in one spot, seeking to serve buyers in remote capacities.
To make the most of sales budgets for the rest of 2020, leadership should look to shift a portion of dollars allocated to T&E to invest more heavily in sales initiatives that will enable their sales teams in the current environment:
- Sales Plays: With major shifts in the buyer issues your solution addresses, and even the buyer personas that care, now is the time to invest proactively in plays for your sellers to run that bring compelling, differentiated value propositions to buyers.
- Sales Enablement: Dedicate cycles and budget to enhancing the skills of sellers through training role-play exercises necessary to excel in the new dynamic.
- Virtual Coaching and Reinforcement Programs: Capitalize on the “check-in” calls your sales leadership are doing with their sales professionals to not only hold them accountable but to, equally important, provide coaching.
- 2021 Sales Kickoff Preparations: The most important sales meeting you may lead in your entire career will be the next in-person one, which is likely your 2021 sales kickoff). So get started now with a strategy for how you will capitalize on it, whether it is face-to-face or virtual.
Reworking Marketing Budgets
For many B2B marketing organizations, a substantial portion of market awareness and demand generation budgets are deployed in campaigns and related activities that rely on face-to-face interactions (e.g. trade shows, industry forums, user group events, thought leadership events), many of which are being cancelled, with good reason, left and right.
To make the most of marketing budgets, consider spending more on demand progression and solution marketing initiatives that shape and capture demand in a distinctively altered marketplace for which original plans were designed:
- Digital Campaigns: Virtual peer forums are proving to be a compelling channel to engage prospective buyers. Market trends and operational approaches that are working are featured in dialogues led by the buyers.
- Thought Leadership Content: More than ever, buyers are desperate for content that identifies new trends and new approaches to address the even more complicated organizational and personal risks they are facing — that is thought leadership.
- Sales Kit Assets: Sellers are now engaging in conversations with buyers through new channels that are wildly different and even a bit uncomfortable at times. It becomes imperative that marketing teams arm sellers with tools for the new “moments of truth” in the buying journey emerging every day. Remember this also includes new value messaging frameworks and sales play (see above), because the value propositions and buying dynamics have also changed.
Put Your Organization’s Dollars to an Even Better Use
With sales and marketing budgets alike, you are probably needing to reduce the budget to make up for lost revenue impacted by the COVID-19 realities we are facing —just do not give it away in the second half of 2020. Budgets are not to be spent for spending sake.
When reprioritizing where dollars are being spent, ask yourself these three questions:
- Does this serve the market and our organization in a post-COVID-19 environment?
- Does this support our effort to effectively Seek to Serve™ our buyers?
- Will these activities drive sustainable revenue growth?
The reality is we — both buyers and sellers/marketers — are now playing in a different ball game by a different set of rules. It is imperative marketing teams shape and capture tactics in a manner that embraces the new buying journey while enabling sales teams with the skills, value messaging and sales kit assets that correspond to the “new now.” The consequence of not will be “scorched earth” conversations with buyers about pains and gains that no longer matter. Or worse yet, missing the opportunities to serve customers because the stakeholders and decision makers are the ones we know but are not prioritizing.
Conversely, making the necessary changes to the marketing and sales stream affords you a genuine opportunity to gain a competitive advantage while serving buyers desperately needing the value you can deliver. That is what will launch you into a Revenue Rebound.
If you have some specific strategies and tactics on how sales and marketing teams can re-purpose their cycles and budgets, please share your ideas below or via a personal note. Here is to adapting to win!