Nurturing leads in the COVID-19 era is not easy. When the pandemic hit in 2020, chaos unfolded – not just in the US, but across the globe. US consumer behavior and buying patterns have changed forever and are expected to evolve further in the foreseeable future.
Fortunately, many countries across the globe have emerged successfully from the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the very beginning, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) had predicted that the coronavirus pandemic could cut global economic growth in half. Sure enough, initially, the production to procurement ratios skewed unfavorably due to several factors, including travel restrictions, quarantine protocols, and financial crises.
As a sector that’s closely linked to its end-consumers, retail was one of the most affected industries of last year. While the COVID-19 pandemic deeply affected the smaller family-run retail businesses and shut down several brick-and-mortar stores, digitally enabled players were able to get back on their feet and turn the situation around in their favor. Digital ordering soared all through 2020 and continued into 2021. Many retail stores, like Starbucks, report how they have come full circle since the pandemic, with higher revenues and stronger balance sheets. The OECD now predicts that the global economy will return to pre-pandemic levels in 2021 and continue the recovery with 4% growth in 2022.
Three ways to keep your leads warm in 2021
Traditionally speaking, the retail industry has always been among America’s strongest performers, contributing significantly to its economy. With recovery underway, America’s retail sales are expected to rise as high as 8.2% in 2021. Nevertheless, studies reveal marked changes in consumer behavior, stemming from the aftermath of the pandemic.
To keep leads warm and the lead funnel healthy until some semblance of normalcy is restored, there are some best practices in lead management that every retail business can adopt.
1. Be where your prospects are.
This is sales strategy 101. Today’s customer is constantly occupied. There are a million digital channels vying for their attention every second. New products are hitting the market every day and fighting for attention. In such a cut-throat environment, a basic rule can help retailers stay grounded and connected: be wherever your prospects are. Staying connected with prospects on the digital channels of their choice is a great way to gain valuable insights into the customer psyche. Seize those valuable opportunities to reach out, engage and build trust; this rapport could be one of the best ways to keep your lead funnel healthy in 2021.
2. Stay persistent, but don’t crowd!
Understanding your prospects is one thing, empathizing with them is another. It is critical to understand that the pandemic has been tough on most customers, on personal and professional fronts. Try not to take negative responses personally, rather explore new ways that you can continue to be in touch. Do a bit of research, explore their areas of interest and use them to improve your engagement. But, most importantly, at this hour, respect the wishes of customers, know when to back away, and give time to build trust. Irrespective of how things are going, a great way to keep communication lines open is to unclog your customer touchpoints. From the website to the mobile applications, social media, sales hotline, and email support, companies need to reexamine every sales touchpoint and evaluate how to make it easier for customers to reach them.
3. Every little bit of innovation helps.
The fundamental motive of any business is to achieve sustainability in the long run. Companies must stay constantly ahead of the curve, weaving intelligent strategies and fueling innovation to stay agile in a changing world. The pandemic is set to leave some permanent marks on the way business is run across the globe. Investing in marketing automation is a proven way to take the workload off your sales teams and deliver payoffs. Conventional techniques, like customer-centric sales campaigns, loyalty programs, and cross-sell/upsells can certainly help. But marketers also need to stray from the trial and experiment on how to capture and retain customer interest.
By nature, sales can be an unpredictable function. Add to it the uncertainty of the pandemic, and there’s really no telling what turn things can take. You may put in your best efforts but walk away with nothing to show for at the end of the day. On the other hand, a stroke of good luck can keep you in the game for months together! But, the thing to remember is, come rain or sunshine, you need to continue to put in the work consistently and with tremendous dedication. That bit of patience intertwined with some innovative thinking can go a long way in helping you hit the winning streak in the days to come.