In the last year the recession has caused many changes in business to business leads. Some are obvious and some are more subtle. Below is a list of how the recession has affected B2B leads and some suggested solutions.
1) The number of leads has diminished – this is as expected and is very industry dependent. For example there are less phone system leads in the market due to overall cost and companies laying off employees so there is not need. But in web design the number of leads is the same but the project / budget size has dropped.
2) Project / budget sizes have dropped for products and services. Companies still need a solution to their problem but no longer have the budget they had a year ago.
3) Sales cycles have increased. A year ago a sales cycle for a project may have been a month now it is three to four months.
4) Harder to contact leads – Because the market is so starved for good leads the buyers are swamped with quotes from leads services as well as personal contacts. Because of this buyers are overwhelmed and less likely to return calls.
5) Less prospects are closing less effecting ROI. The job is hot one week and dead the next. Prospects are not buying in the long run due to unexpected corporate decisions which are taking place on a weekly basis.
What you can do to overcome these obstacles, win more jobs and survive this recession.
1) Create a new product or service that serves clients with smaller budgets. This could be a new product or service all together or a new way of paying for that service or product. If you do not adapt to the reality of today’s economy you will not survive.
2) Anticipate a longer sales cycle, this means you must implement tactics which keep in touch with your prospects on at least monthly basis. Do not assume after one month of contact that project is dead. The company that keeps in touch will win the job in the end.
3) There is more competition so you will need to come up with a more aggressive and creative approach to getting in front of the prospect. A couple calls will not get you an audience. This does not mean you have to harass the prospect but be more creative in your approach and use a greater variety of tactics such as traditional mail, phone, email, contacting others in the company, using a new message or a series of messages that change as time goes on, offering promotions etc.
4) Corporations are changing their business models and restructuring their business on a weekly basis. This effects the decisions to go ahead on a project more during a recession. So you’re not going to win as many jobs which will affect the ROI of the leads you work. In other words for each job you close it is costing more money. There is no easy way out of this one. Best solution is to increase the sales budget and change the service or product to offset the additional costs. For example change your business process, reducing costs, by adding a generic or template offering or add or increase monthly costs and drop the initial cost so you make up the sales cost in the long run.