The COVID-19 pandemic has cut into the sales pipeline for many InsurTech organizations, but the pressure will still be on to finish the year strong. Although the insurance industry and just about everyone else has taken a hit in 2020, insurers continue to invest in technologies and services to maintain and grow their businesses. With that in mind, how does your sales pipeline look for 2021?
The Myth of Q4
Let's get this out of the way first. If you're an experienced sales or marketing veteran, this may not be news to you. There continues to be a myth that Q4 is a good time to "take a break" from marketing activities, especially after Thanksgiving through January 2nd. With the sales team focusing on closing Q4 deals, any new sales opportunities are not top of mind. Although they do exist, new deals are few and far between during December unless someone has an unspent budget to use.
The real opportunity is to make sure you are on your prospects' radar during their 2021 budget meetings in Q4. Budget planning generally starts in Q4 and runs into Q1, with approvals coming in the January/February time frame. Prospects may be limiting or delaying meetings with vendors, but you can be sure they are still researching and vetting all of their options.
There is no doubt that we are entering into new territory as we move into Q4/2020. Will the same sales and marketing tactics successful in the past apply to the "new normal?"
Here are a few examples of sales and marketing tactics that may be difficult to execute due to the COVID-19 pandemic:
Conferences and Events
As hard as the organizers of these events try, one after another switch from "on-site" to "virtual." Meeting your prospects and customers face-to-face, that is, in-person, is not the same as meeting them on Zoom. There are no golf outings, sponsored parties, 15-minute meetings, meeting for lunch, and so on. So it's going to be interesting to see just how many 15-minute "chat room" meeting you'll be able to get at a virtual event.
"I'll be in Dallas next week. Could we meet for lunch?
Although your salespeople may be traveling by car or air, most companies are still having their people work from home. Outside dining is a pretty safe option, but not for much longer here in the Northeast. If inside dining is okay with you and your prospect, you are somewhat limited on what you can do in a restaurant.
Overcoming the Challenges
Here are a few sales tactics that, in my opinion, will stay the same and some suggestions on how you can overcome the challenges mentioned above.
#1 - Establish a Solid Virtual Presence at Conferences and Events
Everyone is in the same boat when it comes to virtual events. Virtual events somewhat "level the playing field" for small organizations. The difference will be the quality and purpose of the content your organization provides in your digital kiosk or booth.
What you offer to your prospects and how you present it is essential. For example, an explainer video, 2 minutes in length or less, can go a long way. Don't try to cram in everything about your company, product, and services into the video. You want the explainer video to capture someone's attention with the goal to either:
1. Schedule that 15-minute chat room appointment with you, or
2. Schedule a more in-depth call during or after the event.
#2 - Dropping in on Prospects
Maybe you've decided that your salespeople won't be traveling and meeting with prospects in-person as many companies have. So how can you get that last meeting of the quarter with these prospects?
What content can you develop that is "all about them?" Here are a few ideas for getting their attention:
- Develop a customized demo for the prospect
- Give a demo of a new release
- Offer a demo of a new feature of your product or service.
If you have a new feature or release coming out, let's say in Q1 (and have an NDA in place), ask to show them the beta version to get their feedback.
#3 - Follow-up Early with "Give Me a Call Back Early Next Year" Prospects
Find a reason to reach out to those prospects interested in your solution but aren't quite ready to engage with you until early next year. Many times they have started their due diligence on potential solutions around a new project funded for 2021.
This is an example of why your marketing efforts cannot be put "on-hold" or delayed until Q1/2021. "Early next year" can quickly turn into "you didn't make the short-list."
#4 - Deliver Content
Insurers will be searching for content to support their business case. Q4 is a great time to publish information about the ROI of your solution. Do you have any of the following collateral available on your website? If so, potential prospects will find this information helpful when developing their business case:
1. ROI Calculators
2. Customer testimonial videos or case studies of how customers have implemented your solution
3. Use Cases
#5 - Validate Priorities
Are some of your prospects not sure what their 2021 priorities will be? You still want to stay in front of them. Their marching orders may have changed for 2021 and may not have called to let you know. Maybe a project that is a prime candidate for your solution made its way to the top of the list. Better to find out in Q4 than mid-way through Q1.
Yes, people work after Thanksgiving. They may not be making decisions or purchases, but they are solidifying their plans for next year. Q4 is not the time to take your foot off the gas. Q4 may be the best time to stay ahead of your competition and enhance your sales pipeline for 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things, including how your organization needs to market and sell to your target audience. Now is the time to fully embrace having a strong digital presence or further enhancing your digital presence.
Sales must close Q4 deals this year, and it should be their priority. Q4 is also a prime opportunity for marketing to build your pipeline for 2021, right up until New Year's Eve.
If you are interested in learning more about how insurers identify, research, evaluate and select products and services, click on the button below to download our free eBook "Understanding The Insurance Buying Cycle."