What is the impact of COVID-19 on B2B sales and how to reduce it in your business?


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As the COVID-19 pandemic advances in Brazil and around the world, we are also already feeling the strength of the economic impact that the measures of social isolation will bring. And we know that in order to avert a health and humanitarian crisis, these policies for closing businesses and home office work are essential.

More than lamenting the effects on the economy, it is time to rethink business models and internal processes so that companies can reinvent themselves during this crisis.

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The impact of COVID-19 on B2B sales is already noticed in many sectors, now we need to act so that the medium and long term perspectives are better!

Homes of the Future

What impacts on sales have already been seen with the new coronavirus pandemic?

At first, we thought that we would only need to adopt the social isolation measures for a few weeks.

As the days go by, however, we have seen that we will have more time in this scenario to avoid overloading the health system, both public and private.

Therefore, it is difficult to measure what will be the real impact of COVID-19 on sales at the end of this situation. After all, we don’t know exactly when we will return to normal – and what this “new normal” will be like.

What we have are some scenarios for the GDP and perspectives for some sectors.

Every Monday, the Central Bank releases the Focus Market Bulletin, with indicator projections. On the date of publication of this article, the forecast was for a drop in GDP of -1.18% in 2020. In the previous week, it was -0.48%. In other words, the numbers are changing rapidly and it becomes more difficult to make decisions based on them.

The crisis is for everyone, but it affects some sectors more than others

We know, however, that there are sectors that are being more affected than others.

According to the bulletin released by Sabra, on April 3, 2020, it is already possible to measure very significant drops for the creative economy (86%), tourism (88%) and educational services (67%). What do they have in common? Most of the time, companies depend directly on human contact to make sales.

On the other hand, areas such as telecommunications and the pharmaceutical industry are less exposed to the crisis. There are even companies growing during this period, such as the Zoom videoconference tool.

In the chart below, the Moody’s agency details more which sectors have high, moderate and low exposure to the effects of the crisis.

Challenges imposed by COVID-19 on the B2B market

We say that the sectors most impacted by the advance of the new coronavirus are those that depend on direct interaction with the consumer.

But that doesn’t mean that B2B-focused businesses aren’t facing negative effects right now. Mainly because many of the solutions are offered to these sectors that are already heavily affected.

With that, we have some important challenges to deal with right now:

  • Difficulty talking to prospects;
  • Customer budget freezing;
  • Difficulty in routine follow-up;
  • Stoppage of ongoing negotiations;
  • Increased cancellation fees;
  • Difficulty in managing the sales team at a distance;
  • Canceling events that are sources of leads.

Ways to reduce the business impact

Generally speaking, we need to understand that the entire economy will suffer from the crisis at a global level.

But we cannot stand still!

It takes flexibility and a lot of focus on planning so that the next few months are better for everyone. Below, we list some good practices to be adopted in this period, based on what we are studying and talking to the market.

Adapt to the remote sales model

More than ever, you need to move towards a remote sales model, even if the goal is to return to field sales later.

For this, it is necessary to adapt processes and tools and focus on sales management based on productivity, not micro-management of the team. The support of a CRM system is essential for this!

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Find new customer communication channels

If sales have migrated to the home office (and most customers too), its worth investing in good new online customer communication tools. Good quality videoconferencing applications, even on poor connections, will be the main form of contact for meetings and negotiations.

Likewise, email and LinkedIn should be good allies for prospecting. Therefore, consider reviewing all your texts and business approach models for this period.

Rethink product and service delivery

On a deeper level, it’s also worth rethinking the delivery of products and services during these weeks. Your company may need to review a product on time or even launch a new one on the market.

In this sense, a recommendation is to bet on as a service solutions (if possible), which work on a subscription model and represent a smaller initial contribution to the customer. Just like recurring revenue for your business!

Helping the customer with their challenges

Another important lesson from this moment is to be willing to help the client in their challenges, having empathy as an essential behavior.

As we said, most companies are facing very big challenges in this period, so, as a supplier, try to help your customer to overcome the crisis in whatever way possible. This means from designing solutions together to having the flexibility to negotiate values.

Design scenarios for planning and cash flow

A fact, unfortunately, we must already face as reality: hardly what was planned as a goal for 2020 will be achieved. In other words, it’s time to review the planning, but still considering that we are not sure of the scenario that we will find in the coming months.

Therefore, it is recommended to design different scenarios (optimistic, realistic, pessimistic), always considering the most recent indicators for the economy and for its specific sector of activity. And, of course, update these scenarios weekly based on the latest moves.

Negotiate with suppliers

Just as your company needs to have the flexibility to negotiate values ​​with customers, your suppliers need to be open to it.

With the financial sector, understand what can be reduced so that it is not necessary to lay off salespeople or deal with a more drastic scenario in the future. And do it soon, even if the impact hasn’t reached your cash flow yet.

Do not anticipate the offer

This attention to cash flow must also take into account new hires or the team’s dedication to business that is yet to happen.

You usually need to prepare in advance to fill a new order or customer. Now, the time is to extend the delivery period and protect yourself from investments that can become heavy for your pocket later on.

Carry out marketing and sales campaigns that show empathy with the moment

We mention empathy in customer relationships and this should also be reflected in communications with the market, especially those aimed at sales. In recent times, we’ve seen brands get “canceled” by very commercial approaches.

The fact is, right now, no one is willing to be approached for a sale. But yes to receive any help for your business! How can your company position itself in this regard?

Take care of reputation

Speaking of marketing and sales campaigns, brand experts recommend taking strong care of reputation. All actions that an organization takes at that time will be evaluated. And they could bring much bigger damage than this economic crisis!

Get ready for a new market

We know that the moment is very challenging and marked by uncertainties. Despite this, there are ways to find better prospects for Brazil together.

We need to focus on optimizing processes and resources and, above all, keeping an eye on the changes in behavior that this crisis can bring – and it is already bringing about.