The state of Small Business in the US and our response.
This is an update for our valued SalesDouble clients on what SalesDouble is doing for you during this crisis, and what we are seeing in the small business marketplace.
As everyone knows, this is a national tragedy and our hearts and prayers go out to those who are directly affected by this either by loss of loved ones or economic losses.
That said, from a strictly business perspective, we would like to provide you with some information on what we are seeing. SalesDouble calls over 2 million businesses per year, and we have a better insight into the state of small business than most other sources of information. We are literally on the front lines of the small business community. This insight gives us a unique opportunity to pass this market intelligence on to our clients.
Our philosophy as a company has always been that one of the best ways to market to prospects is through direct and personal contact over the phone. While this is not the only effective way to market, we have found it is a critical part of just about any business’s sales and marketing strategy. We believe right now that this form of marketing is more critical than ever. As of this writing, over a billion people are confined to their homes, and many businesses have their employees working from home. What this means is that people do not have the usual social outlets, therefore, a personal connection via the phone, text, video conferencing, etc., is more important than ever.
You may agree or disagree with this conclusion, but here is some real data we have compiled from real experience in the last few weeks when things seem to have exploded in the US. As a proxy on the viability of our service during this time, we wanted to show you the trends the last few months and weeks compared to the last couple of weeks as far as the average number of new prospects generated across all industries.
In our opinion, this shows us that businesses are more open to our clients’ products and services than normal, even though we are in the middle of this unprecedented time. In the week when most states issued Stay at Home orders, our results actually increased by 12% over the average of the period of January 1st - March 15h, all that while panic in the news cycle would tell you otherwise. Additionally, the overall trend of results has actually increased over the last few weeks as shown below.
Why do we think this is happening?
While it may seem counterintuitive that this should be the case with so many employees sent home, we believe a combination of factors are in play.
The prospects we call on are generally small businesses that cannot afford to completely halt operations or they will go out of business within weeks. The vast majority do not have months of cash flow reserves. This is pushing them to find ways to continue to conduct business as best as they can while working remotely. Technology in 2020 enables phones to be redirected or remotely answered, workstations and servers to be remotely accessed as well as the availability of HD quality video conferencing for very little cost. This means that we are still able to get through to prospects, they just may be at a remote location, but they are basically open at some level.
- Another factor relates to the first one. Although businesses may be running things remotely and able to function, they are still more likely than usual to have staff shortages due to reduced hours for employees or employees not able to work remotely. We have found so far that this is translating into fewer gatekeepers and less resistance in getting through to Decision Makers which is the biggest hurdle when cold calling. For instance, while retail businesses like restaurants have arguably been hit the hardest, we are finding that many owners are answering the phones themselves. Normally they are very difficult to get through to, but the situation has caused many to furlough or lay off staff and they are left to answer the phone.
- As this has caused an initial shock to most businesses, it has also forced owners and executives of companies to reassess the state of their business and strategy going forward. When times are good, people are focused on the daily grind of keeping up, when an interruption like this happens, it makes people focus more on things that get lost in shuffle. This includes things like the long-term strategy of the business, potentially selling the business when things return to normal, cutting costs like lowering insurance premiums, investing in technology for remote work and disaster preparedness, etc.
Why now is the time to up your marketing game.
Let’s face it, there is a lot of fear and uncertainty going on right now. The natural reaction is to stop everything and freeze in place. We would, however, encourage you to think about the opposite strategy. When it comes to investing, the world’s first billionaire investor, Sir John Templeton, credited his success with being able to buy investments when there is maximum pessimism in the market. We believe this also rings true for marketing and sales.
Your competitors are freezing in place and putting marketing on hold, even though they have a captive audience of people who have more time than usual to consider new products and services and are looking for ways to cut costs or improve their company. You have a captive audience who needs your services more than ever to help keep their business afloat. Right now is a good time to show them you are here for them even when times are tough and you can help them find the best solution to help with their needs in the current and upcoming changes to how they do business.
Business owners are scared right now (with good reason), but they also may have more time than usual due to operations slowing down and are in need more than ever of human contact. We have coached our callers to be particularly sympathetic as they are talking to people and understand the importance of connecting even with total strangers over the phone. Many callers have commented that they have gotten very positive responses as people are paying attention to the human side of a phone call. We believe that with right tone and message, the clients who reach out to introduce themselves and start building relationships now will be the first in line when people start buying again.
No one knows when this crisis will end, but we do know that those who have built up the best pipeline and have built relationships with prospects during this time will be best positioned to capitalize on the inevitable rebound in small business that is coming. We encourage you to not feed into fear but to aggressively expand your marketing in this time of opportunity.
Please call our office if you would like to discuss your strategy for getting through this time and how best position your company for growth.
Robert E. Poole