In this week’s virtual roundtable, we brought together a new group of two enterprise B2B CMOs for a discussion of COVID-19’s impact on their businesses. The attendees were:

  • Jennifer Kyriakakis, co-founder and CMO of Matrixx Software, which enables businesses to sell through digital channels.
  • Theresa Elamparo, CMO of Tier1 Financial Solutions, a global leader in relationship management solutions for finance.
  • Chris Mechanic, co-founder of WebMechanix.
  • Jarrett Fleagle, Director of Business Development at WebMechanix.

Here are the highlights from our discussion:

  • Both attendees have 12-to-18-month sales cycles.
  • Jarrett discovered that his sales team receives a different set of inquiries than they were used to prior to COVID-19. People are looking to do more website redesigns and get into the U.S. market. They’re likely seeing the current situation as an opportunity to pursue other goals now that they can’t spend as much on digital advertising or live events.
  • Everyone is using more virtual solutions and software, but virtual solutions companies aren’t always monetizing it. Companies are giving away a lot of it for goodwill.
  • The telecommunications industry’s quarantine has affected countries in different ways. Developed countries are now offering all digital methods of purchasing phone services. In contrast, developing countries are still selling prepaid phone cards on the streets, so they’ve seen larger drops in sales.
  • Companies with a strong digital foundation aren’t struggling nearly as much as others. And some companies have seen an increase in sales of up to 60%. Those without this digital presence are suffering and having to adjust to working remotely.
  • Much of the current demand is pent-up and unactionable since people can’t make big financial decisions right now. Deals are stalling for now; people simply aren’t ready to buy. The biggest challenge is how to turn that demand into sales once we come out of quarantine.
  • Chris circulated an idea to help businesses facing stalled seven-figure deals. If prospects can be convinced to purchase a much smaller pilot offer first, they’ll be more likely to purchase something bigger later. You can increase a prospect’s likelihood of buying by having money-back guarantees since people are especially cautious now.
  • There’s a focus on converting existing in-person events to virtual ones. However, too many people are conducting webinars these days. What works is better is conducting small Zoom sessions with leaders in non-competing companies to share ideas.
  • Some jobs in the capital markets side of finance require you to work at your desk, not virtually. That said, most of the industry has a good digital infrastructure in place for supporting work from home. Generally, there’s more digital activity than before in this industry.
  • Some companies overestimated their COVID preparedness and are only now realizing that they’re not as digital as they thought.
  • Some prospects have accelerated their decision-making process, while others have postponed their decisions in the sales pipeline.

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  • One CMO luckily already had a virtual team with employees across the globe since they have customers from 25 countries. The big priority is doing more with less since companies have cut budgets. Their team has upped the frequency of virtual calls between management members and is holding all-hands-on-deck meetings to ensure that everyone is on the same page. The other CMO confirms having a similar international virtual team makeup and increasing meeting frequency. She’s held more virtual happy hours and guest speaker sessions for the team because she wants to reduce loneliness and disengagement for people who aren’t used to working from home.
  • One CMO made sure to encourage small talk, banter, and short games before or after meetings during these times rather than cutting straight to the agenda.
  • WebMechanix uses emotional check-ins at the start of meetings, where each attendee shares their emotional state and why they feel that way. We’ve found this to be a great way to connect before getting down to business.
  • Remarketing ads are an effective method for capturing enterprise prospects that you’re trying to win over for a big sale. That’s because retargeting is an inexpensive way to get in front of people who failed to convert when they first visited.
  • Attendee tracking may be more accurate on Zoom than an in-person event since you don’t truly know how many people will visit your booth or seminar unless you scan badges.
  • One CMO has noticed that some athletes, like Formula One drivers, have moved over to e-sports to play the video game version of their sport for fun during the quarantine.

This round table focused on enterprise business, which has long sales cycles and larger deals. While their companies are doing some things differently, both CMOs seem to be handling the change well, especially since their teams are already set up to work virtually. They’re busier than ever, and they’re re-prioritizing, looking for opportunities, and trying to make the most of their limited resources. Ultimately, it seems the biggest opportunity right now is to nurture pent-up demand in the hopes of closing deals once business returns to normal.

Stay tuned for more roundtables!

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