“If you don’t have something relevant and helpful to say, consider taking a step back,” wrote Stephanie Buscemi, Salesforce’s Chief Marketing Officer, in a recent Salesforce blog post about leadership and creativity in times of crisis.
This is advice that Anthony Lamot, CEO and co-founder of DESelect – an app that organizes customer databases into strategically-targeted demographics for marketing campaigns – is taking on board.
“It feels wrong to try and sell hard to companies that are under stress,” Lamot told Publicize. “It doesn’t make much sense.”
Amid the economic recession the world is currently facing due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the problem the DESelect team is experiencing is working out how to bring in new sales leads.
“The best sales you can do is to be human”
“People are not actively looking for our service,” Lamot said, which means his company has toned down the social selling tactics it used to use on social networks such as LinkedIn.
Instead, DESelect is taking a leaf out of its own book and approaching just a fraction of the customers it would normally consider to be potential leads, in a selection of targeted industries and regions.
And when DESelect does approach potential leads, it now does so in a different tone of voice.
“It’s more one of … we know you’re probably not looking to buy right now, but we just want to establish a relationship,” Lamot said.
Besides his own gut feeling, Lamot said, this decision was born out of analysis of the company’s own customer base data, as well as advice from business coaches at StartIt @ KBC, Belgium’s largest startup accelerator, which has supported DESelect from the beginning.
“Everyone’s guessing and there’s a lot of uncertainty, but I think that the best sales you can do here is to be human,” CEO Lamot said.
“Try to figure out if you can really help … and if you can’t, maybe it’s best to take a step back.”
Luckily, DESelect is integrated into the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, a company whose “no lay-off” pledge in response to the COVID-19 outbreak proves it has not taken too much of a financial hit.
The credibility and visibility that comes with being available to download on one of the world’s biggest SaaS platforms has meant that business has remained steady for Belgium-based Lamot and his team.
A need for more targeted marketing communication
This steady flow of business is also down to a naturally-increased need for DESelect’s service, he explained.
With virtually all consumers spending more time online now that we are all locked down to our homes, companies are naturally forced to do more digital communication, Lamot said.
But, considering the current overload of information available, the accuracy of company communication must be increased, and it must become more personalized, Lamot added. And this is where DEselect’s organization or “segmentation” service is useful, helping to sort through customer’s huge databases and fine-tune which audiences should be targeted with different types of content.
In return, DESelect’s customers can expect to save time, because the company’s drag and drop interface can increase the efficiency of managing customer’s marketing data by up to 50%, Lamot claimed. And, with many businesses busier now than ever, some scrambling to find ways to see themselves through the current crisis, time is money.
Business as usual
Since lockdown, the DESelect team has been able to continue to work on contracts sealed before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, as its client purchase process is often drawn-out, sometimes taking up to 6 months.
And, as the team continues to close deals with large corporations, Lamot said, morale remains stable, despite his initial concerns.
Much to its advantage, DESelect has also been receiving a steady flow of requests from large corporations reaching out to form partnerships with the company, as they now have more time to step back and re-evaluate the market.
These partnerships are mutually beneficial and can be used to jointly target a go-to market, work together on potential projects and receive training in each other’s products.
The transition to remote working wasn’t even too much skin off the company’s nose, with around half of the team already working remotely beforehand, so the team’s productivity hasn’t been compromised too much.
It’s too early to tell whether this shift in sales tactics is working for DESelect, and in the meantime, the company is opting for a content-driven approach to marketing campaigns and offering free training which, according to Lamot, has been popular in recent weeks.
Next, the DESelect team is looking to try out its more humanly approach to sales with education marketing platforms, because given the increased demand for at home learning, and schools unlikely to re-open any time soon, Lamot believes adaptation of the education sector is now more important than ever.