In today’s Daily Briefing, Jim Benton was joined by Matt Amundson, the CMO of EverString. They discussed the impact of COVID on pipeline and how sales and marketing teams are pivoting to address increasing deal risks.
Here are the numbers:
- Big signals of risk like time delay mentions continue to tick upward from pre-COVID levels
- Since pre-COVID, RIFs mentions are up 121% and “Not Hiring” is up 151% indicating strapped budgets
Before diving into the data, they opened up the conversation discussing the changing nature of business. Jim mused that while it’s certainly not across the board, it seems some companies are adapting well. “We’re running more effective operations,” he said, “because we’re digital and set up for it.”
Matt agreed. “Some companies are built for efficiencies like these and we’re starting to flex these muscles.”
Matt got his start in Business Development, and like many with a similar start, made his way into sales and then into marketing. Eventually running a marketing team that encompasses the SDR team, which provides Matt a unique vantage point.
“We get a 360-degree view of the customer lifecycle - from prospect to close,” he said. “This makes me a very pipeline oriented marketer and a very revenue-oriented marketer.”
Time delay and RIF mentions are a big signal of risk. Though still small in number, they continue to tick upward on calls since the beginning of March.
We reported yesterday that payment terms are also continuing to lengthen. Together, this could imply that deals are at risk for stalling due to delays regarding budget or other concerns.
When confronted with this data, Matt added that this does reflect what they are seeing, but from a market geo perspective. “East coast deals are way more impacted than west coast based deals,” he said. “Market segments are even more interesting. It’s hard to paint it with a very broad brush.”
Jim asked how data like this has impacted playbooks and messaging. Matt said that applying this kind of data into their teams is where things really start to change.
“We did a 360-degree messaging change,” explained Matt. “Originally, we went 180 degrees into ultra empathetic messaging. Then we ‘180-ed’ out of that back to square one.” He said that this sounds surprising, but when you look at responses, it makes much more sense.
“We’re focusing on humanity more than empathy. Something like ‘I’m writing this email sitting in a bean bag chair in my living room rather than the office.’” That kind of messaging really clicks, he said.
“I think people are getting bombarded with COVID messaging and I think people are looking to business for a sense of normalcy,” he added. “We’re seeing a much higher open rate for emails than we’ve seen in the past.”
Humanity includes empathy, of course. And one way to empathize is that we’re all exhausted from the panic of COVID. “People are shying away from COVID messaging so much that if you use coronavirus in a subject line, the open rate decreases by 60%,” Matt said.
Jim and Matt agreed that people want to get back to people.
Use your great personalizers (SDRs) to generate pipeline - cut through the noise and establish humanity
In deals where budget becomes an immediate concern - and so much so that it’s impacting employment and triggering employment risk signals - it’s important to reevaluate.
“The best thing you can do,” said Matt, “is to paint a picture of the future. A lot of people are talking about ‘difficult times’, but not many people are talking about what the future will look like. This is a much more strategic conversation to have with people right now.”
It’s also about reevaluating where you’re placing your efforts. When you’re confronted with deals that are suddenly at high risk and are perhaps in the most impacted geos or market segments, perhaps focus your SDR and pipeline efforts elsewhere for a moment.
For companies that are most impacted by the crisis, it’s important to keep them as part of your campaigns, but perhaps don’t focus your SDRs on going after those businesses. “We spend our resources working with businesses that are less impacted by COVID,” said Matt.
When it comes to cutting through the noise, Matt has this advice: “It’s not new. Personalization will always cut through the noise.”
Leverage your great personalizers: SDRs.
“SDRs are your best asset right now,” explained Matt. “Marketing automation is not going to cut through the noise. More and more what people want is the human connection. We don't want to be talked at.”
Jim agreed. “We’re fully distributed right now, and I think there is such a hunger for human experiences,” he said. “I think we’re going to get really creative on how to provide these connecting moments.”