Virtual sales stories from three inspiring ethical businesses.
We recently interviewed three purpose-driven businesses – Zedify, Big Clean Switch and Healthy Nibbles, to find out how they rose to the challenges of the last eighteen months and how they plan to tackle b2b sales from now on. Read on to learn their top three insights:
How to virtually build strong strategic partnerships and relationships.
Market positioning for sales success.
Social media and marketing techniques to reach new customers.
If you are a visual person, you might like to watch the 1 hour panel discussion, sign up here to access the replay now!
Our ethical business panel
The global pandemic of 2020-21 took both our personal and professional lives online like never before and, eighteen months on from the initial event, it looks like the way we do business has changed forever.
Ethical Sales’ Managing Director Corinne hosted the online event ‘Exploring Virtual Sales in a Post-Covid World’, to discuss the sales challenges and opportunities that the pandemic created.
Corinne hosted the lively discussion with three panellists – Jon Fletcher, Founder and CEO of Big Clean Switch a green energy B Corp operating a price comparison platform and brokerage service for low carbon energy products;
Sara Roberts, CEO of Healthy Nibbles a B Corp workplace solutions provider of healthy snacks via boxes, vending machines and curated services;
Suzanne Blake, Head of Growth at Zedify, the UK largest zero emissions delivery service, on a mission to transform our cities using cargo bikes and 9 micro-hubs for deliveries, also a pending B Corp.
Some fascinating insights came out of the webinar. Like all businesses over the last eighteen months, the panellists have had to respond quickly to unexpected changes.
The good news? All of them found some positives. And the even-better news is that these learnings can be adopted by other ethical businesses. Read on for three of the key takeaways from the webinar. Or watch the full session here.
How to virtually build strong strategic partnerships and relationships.
Due to lockdowns, the usual face-to-face meetings employed in sales were suddenly impossible, so businesses found themselves quickly needing other routes of contact to maintain relationships with existing clients and build new partnerships.
Jon and Sara found that their services were low down on companies’ lists of priorities, meaning they had to pivot their usual approach, as Jon explains:
“We tried a number of things….We switched to digital and virtual channels, and also started asking for referrals from our existing customers.”
The Big Clean Switch put a greater effort into SEO and webinars –
“webinars demonstrate the added value of your business and why you’re different from businesses in your space.”
Sara explained how Healthy Nibbles worked with existing clients to repurpose their offer, with a shift from vending machines to individual solutions for employees now working at home. The company also introduced a more holistic service around nutrition, and upped its content via Linked In and emails, particularly informal ones that helped Healthy Nibbles to stay part of businesses’ day-to-day conversations.
“As we’re a workplace-based B2B, from the first lockdown our revenue ceased, so we had to quickly look at adaptation,”
“Staying closely connected to clients was helpful, as they could then refer us to companies with similar challenges,”
Positioning your services for sales success.
As a strategic ethical business leader, you need to look for opportunities and see where your company can position itself to serve a market need. And while the pandemic may have initially limited these opportunities, it was actually the opposite in many ways for our panel guests.
“the pandemic was an opportunity to look at different sectors who were reinventing and reinvigorating,”
Being an established business, Zedify was “front and centre” when businesses had to rethink their delivery options, so its services were suddenly in much more demand.
Suzanne explains that the company had lots of different types of sales and businesses approaching them, from councils needing to get food parcels out to pharmacies delivering prescriptions, giving their city based micro-hubs and first mile zero emissions delivery services unexpected and extra opportunities for growth.
Suzanne also researched which areas of business were thriving in the pandemic, and then reached out to them,
“Subscription boxes went through the roof, so we doubled down on outreach to those kinds of companies.”
Sara found that demand for Healthy Nibbles’ products came from unexpected places – providing tangible elements to virtual events, or corporate gifting so companies could help maintain internal culture during remote working.
The takeaway from this is that the pandemic forced these companies to try new things faster than they would have done before – an unexpectedly good outcome. And this is something that can definitely continue in a post-Covid world.
Using marketing automations and social media platforms to reach new customers
In order to find new markets, the use of software and social media platforms definitely plays a part. So which did our panellists find helpful?
Suzanne found herself on LinkedIn a lot during this time, using clients’ networks to promote Zedify as well as building up her personal profile. All this aided the creation of relationships with companies who wanted to explore working with Zedify.
Healthy Nibbles started using Zopto, a software platform that automates your LinkedIn outreach to generate sales opportunities. Sara explains how it worked:
“This was a strong route for us…We enjoyed excellent ROI, and it went hand in hand with building our profile on Linked In, where we focussed on creating expertise and joining the right groups.”
Sara also found that her inbox expanded rapidly during the pandemic as more businesses used email newsletters – but that this approach didn’t work for Healthy Nibbles.
“I’ve found that the quantity of emails is ridiculous so you have to find ways of cutting through this noise and being relevant. A single paragraph of well thought-out plain text is often better than a blanket mailing list.”
For Jon and his team at Big Clean Switch, the focus was on adding value with meaningful interactions:
“it’s a balancing act of volume and authenticity. Linked In became a key tool in our arsenal, but we worked hard to create authenticity and added value, and show we were relevant.”
Authenticity in a post pandemic sales world
The word that came up again and again during the discussions was “authentic”.
While software and platforms can be useful tools to make contact, all the panellists agreed that it’s vital to combine this with a more personal approach.
There’s no magic bullet when it comes to b2b sales approaches – you need to play the long game and not be too pushy. Whichever method you choose to reach new customers, you must be able to show value and demonstrate how you can meet a client’s needs – something which is at the heart of all purpose-driven businesses.
If you’d like to watch the 1 hour webinar recording in full and hear the other insights from our panellists – including how to align your business’ values and ethos with your sales messages – sign up below to gain access.
We’ll also be running more webinars in the coming months – subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to hear about these exciting opportunities.