Remote possibilities: 5 things to know about reaching prospects who are working from home
In the unprecedented COVID-19 environment, how do you keep your employees safe, your clients happy, and your business running?
VSA is just one of thousands of companies who eventually came to the same conclusion: that the only way to continue operating was to shut down our physical offices entirely and shift all of our employees to temporarily working from home.
As a result of this mass-scale shift, thousands (and perhaps even millions) of home offices have sprung up almost overnight—which promised to drastically affect the outbound side of our business as well. Though we didn’t know exactly how, we did know that lead gen programs targeting home offices would look a lot different. What would change?
We had some expectations, of course. For instance, with so many offices closed or consolidated, we anticipated that navigating to the right decision maker—or even identifying the right decision maker—would be more of a challenge. And when we did, we expected that their level of interest would be almost entirely dependent on COVID-19’s direct effects on their company. In other words, they’d either have an urgent, immediate need or they wouldn’t have the bandwidth to look into any new products at all.
Of course, the only way to know for sure was by actually making the calls. Now, several weeks into this new environment, we’ve learned a lot. Some of our experiences have confirmed our expectations, while others have refuted them.
Here are five of the most significant differences we’ve noticed about calling decision makers who are working from home:
- It’s easier to reach them. As long as you have a direct phone number, it’s actually a lot easier to reach decision makers who are working from home. In fact, many of our prospects are routing work calls directly to their cell phones—increasing our connection rate significantly.
- DM schedules are often more flexible. While decision makers aren’t exactly less busy, working from home means there aren’t often best or worst times to reach them. So far, we’ve found that schedules are more flexible, and our BDRs don’t have to be as concerned about calling at a specific time of day. That doesn’t mean that DMs are more available, though. In fact, #3 was one of our most unpleasant surprises:
- There are more interruptions at home, not fewer. Bustling with pets, deliveries, home care needs, kids who are home from school, and spouses who are also working from home, a decision maker’s house can be just as busy and distracting an environment as their central office. Unfortunately, you can’t expect smooth sailing just because you’ve reached someone on the phone!
- Many DM roles have changed. This came as a surprise to us—in retrospect, though, it makes a lot of sense. Because so many companies have had to reorganize in the last few weeks to stay in business, many of their high-level decision makers have taken on additional responsibilities. On one hand, this makes the purchasing processes more straightforward, since fewer people are involved. On the other hand, these few people are often overwhelmed with tasks, which can make them less likely to listen. Either way, these conditions help confirm something we’d suspected all along…
- When it comes to their purchasing priorities, almost all companies are experiencing significant changes. This might be the #1 reason to actually keep calling. With almost every business undergoing a substantial transformation, even those who aren’t interested in purchasing can likely give you valuable information about their restructuring plans or shifting priorities. You’ll be glad to know about these changes once things get back to normal!
In addition to our own restructuring, the nature of our business has forced us to adjust to the new work environments of our thousands of prospects. These environments have presented a multitude of new conditions and challenges, some of which we expected and others of which took us by surprise.
Overall, though, we’ve discovered that our telephone outreach services are still invaluable in this trying time—particularly for the first and last reasons in the list above. While this might not ultimately be the best time to make sales, it is a great opportunity to learn valuable information about your prospects, and the fact that high-level decision makers are easier to reach just makes the opportunity even better.
The five reasons above—amongst others—make it clear that there’s no reason to stop your lead gen program if you don’t have to. In fact, as long as you have a good list of direct numbers, you’ll likely discover that your calling campaigns are highly productive, whether or not they go as you expected.