3 tips for adapting your sales and marketing during times of change

Photo by Patrick Tomasso

As you round out a year of unexpected challenges and necessary adaptation, you’ve likely found that the sales and marketing tactics you’ve historically relied on no longer yield the same results. 

This may have led to lower profits, missed goals, or even worse, layoffs or furloughs for your workers. To avoid facing similar challenges in 2021, you need to adapt your sales and marketing tactics to match the current environment while staying agile as the world continues to shift around you.

Key takeaways

  • Adjust your sales and marketing strategy for a primarily virtual environment 
  • Hyper-focus on the activities that best target your ideal audience 
  • Do your research to identify best practices for selling virtually

As a lead business advising firm, Cultivate Advisors has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs successfully tackle all types of challenges—from economic crises to business-specific struggles. We’ve found that the key to growth is being able to adapt. Here are three areas of focus for creating a flexible sales and marketing funnel that can adapt to any situation.

1. Adjust to an increasingly online world

COVID-19 changed the landscape of your business. In an attempt to shift to an entirely virtual world, you may have scrambled to ensure you could offer your products and services online. While things continue to evolve, you must shift your focus to learn how to not only grow but thrive long term in a digital-first world.

Here are three areas for adaptation in an increasingly virtual business environment:

Lead generation

Leads are the lifeblood of your business, and now more than ever, you need to identify which lead generation tactics are working. 

Not all marketing channels are created equal. Some will bring you hundreds or thousands of leads, while others might only yield a handful of results.

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Which channels are providing the most leads?
  • Where am I spending my time? 
  • Where am I spending my money? 
  • How much does each lead cost?
  • Which leads convert the best? 

Understanding your channels and how well they convert will help you identify where you should focus your efforts for the biggest impact.

Create a step-by-step plan to manage, track, and modify your lead generation process with this lead distribution planning tool

Sales meetings and consultations

In today’s virtual business climate, you’re probably doing most of your selling over the phone or through video conferencing.

When you’re not face-to-face, it’s easy for participants to drift off, check email, or start scrolling elsewhere. Keeping your prospects focused and engaged is one of the biggest challenges of remote sales. 

Here are a few ways to conduct virtual sales like a pro and keep people actively engaged and set yourself up for success:

  • Turn on your camera: Keeping your video on and encouraging your prospects to do the same allows you to capture non-verbal cues and build trust more quickly. In fact, the simple act of turning on your camera can increase your closing rate by nearly 10%.
  • Include conferencing instructions with your meeting prep: Even though we’re living in a digital world, not everyone will be tech-savvy. Send your prospect detailed information on how to operate the video conferencing platform.
  • Set up your home studio: If you’re working from home, do your best to set up a functional and professional workspace. At a minimum, ensure you have good lighting, a powerful internet connection, and peace and quiet. 
  • Create an agenda: Stay on track and keep your prospects focused and engaged by creating a detailed agenda for each meeting.
  • Follow up with a meeting summary: Always send out a summary of the meeting. A recap of your conversation—or even a video recording—can help your prospects remember the details.

Get more tips for successful virtual sales consultations.

Online business profiles

In a virtual world, your online presence is vital. Keeping your business information up to date across the web will help your customers and potential buyers stay informed about your business.

Check your website, social media, and Yelp Page to ensure you have all of your bases covered. This includes your phone number, website, hours of operation, services offered, and other details.

Now more than ever, consumers are also looking for additional information about a business’s safety precautions and COVID procedures before deciding who to spend their money with. By updating your online profiles to incorporate what measures you’re taking during COVID you’ll set expectations and make consumers comfortable choosing your business. 

2. Targeting the right audience

Given the current state of the economy, having a well-defined target audience and messaging strategy is more important than ever. While you may have previously been “open to all leads,” you’ll find that the more specific you get with your target audience, the more high-quality leads you’ll receive. 

The pandemic has turned the world on its head, making significant changes in our lives both online and offline. During this time, you may also need to reconsider who you’re targeting, as the new normal has changed consumers’ needs, habits, and pain points.

One way to identify the current needs and pain points of your target audience is to survey your existing clients. This will help you restructure your marketing efforts. How is your typical client responding to the current climate? What are their biggest needs during this time? By pulling together your clients’ pain points, you’re able to speak to those challenges in your email marketing, advertising, social posts, and more.

3. Selling in a virtual climate

It can be difficult to adjust to remote sales when you’re accustomed to having more face time. Fortunately, outside of some of the challenges mentioned above, many proven sales tactics don’t require you to interact in person. The key is learning how to put your prospects’ needs first. Here are four simple tactics you can add to your sales process that translate well in a virtual environment. 

Provide solutions that match your prospects’ needs

No two sales are the same. You must tailor each new deal to the individual you’re selling to. Take the time to understand and uncover what’s important to your prospect to sell to their specific needs.

By establishing a need, you can partner with your prospect to find a solution. To uncover someone’s needs, use open-ended questions and dig deeper with at least three additional questions to find the why behind that need. Try to understand the motivations that are driving their initial response. This technique is called probing. Use specific follow-up questions based on the five W’s: why, what, who, where, and when.

Listen and validate

Allow your prospect to do at least 75% of the talking—they’ll likely open up and reveal pain points you can help solve. Once you’ve uncovered the root, ask validating questions to play back what you heard, dig deeper, and give them a break from talking. Having them think out loud and drill into into their thought process can uncover needs and preferences they didn’t even know they had. Repeating your understanding back to the client can also ensure you’re on the same page, and it’s a great way to recap a prospecting call. 

Share the process 

When it comes to sales, we often feel uncomfortable sharing our sales process. But in a digital world, transparency can put your prospect at ease. By sharing your process upfront, you let them know what the next steps are so that they can better prepare to make a decision when that time arises.

Stay consistent with follow up

Sometimes the answer is no, and that’s okay. There are many reasons a prospect could be turning you down. When this happens, the best thing you can do is get permission to follow up. 

Follow-up is crucial, especially now. With so many brands competing for the same attention, you want to stay top of mine for your prospect. By following up consistently and respectfully, you build trust with your prospect so that you will be the first choice when they’re ready to buy.

You don’t need to be an expert in sales and marketing to successfully guide prospects through your business’s sales funnel. Focus on understanding your audience, communicating consistently, and adapting your process to excel virtually. This will lead to an increase in both loyalty and revenue. To help you develop your virtual business plan, you can schedule a free two-hour session with Cultivate Advisors to dig into your business specifically and develop a customized plan.

You can also join Cultivate Advisors’ cofounder and CEO Casey Clark as he demonstrates how to build a plan for 2021 based on data and purpose. Register for the Nov. 12 webinar.


The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.