Customers are the lifeblood of all our organisations’ business.
Maintaining their trust and confidence during a potential disruption like we are living in at the moment, is critical.
In Wirtschaftsagentur’s second startup stories session, Petra had the pleasure to discuss with two members of the Austrian startup ecosystem, who have proven to be masters in client relationships in the crisis.
Susanne Klepsch, CEO and Co-Founder of MeetFox (online meetings enabled) and Daniel Horak, among other functions Managing Partner of CONDA, the Austrian crowdfunding platform, were so kind to speak openly about how they managed the first weeks of the COVID-19 crisis and how they see changes and the future in client relationships.
While MeetFox has decided to offer its products for a limited period of time for free to new customers, CONDA has launched its initiative CONDA-hilft to provide bridge financing to startups via its crowdfunding infrastructure, at self-cost.
How to create valuable connections in turbulent times?
Does it make sense to pretend that nothing has happened and maintain communication with the customer as usual? Or even to wait until everything returns to normal? Absolutely not. It is a must and a first to stay in close contact with existing customers.
Change the way you talk
The tone and voice with customers have softened and have become more personal and emotional. Customer reactions are very, very positive: people react more often and are more open to discussions. Being honest and transparent about your company’s own situation builds a closer relationship with customers and new leads. It pays off long-term.
How to replace the personal charm
As sales meetings in B2B have strongly moved from personal onsite visits to web-calls, Daniel pointed out, that people have an even stronger need to talk in person over the phone or in web-calls. The anonymity and automation ingrained in online selling have to be balanced by personal interaction. Virtual asks for personal.
Willingness to cooperate
In general, people are more open to discuss potential partnerships than before, even for sales. People who had been difficult to approach before are answering contact requests now and new opportunities are realized. However, let us not get this wrong: outbound, cold contacting without religious prospecting has not worked before the crisis and does not work during the crisis either. Impersonal mass-emails and mass-LinkedIns won’t work now either.
Sales Cycles with hot leads are shorter now, as people need fast solutions if they are willing to spend.
Community is worth a mint
If you are among the lucky ones (or the hard-working ones) who have built a community and network of potential customers before the crisis, then this is a wonderful basis now. Both, Susanne and Daniel pointed out, that old contacts are coming back now and jump on digital solutions that they would not have considered before. This means also: If you cannot sell now because people do not see it critical for their business, use the time to build a network and engage even without selling – you can use this as an asset a little later.
Despite the great changes, the possibilities are abundant. Even if no sales are possible now, it is time to develop your business in another way. Invest in pre-sales and concentrate on building up cooperations at the moment.
Thank you Dudu Gencel and Vienna Business Agency for making this session possible. Our mission is to show role models and what’s possible on a strategic level, especially when adapting to new situations.