The sobering facts: How COVID-19 affects rejection reasons in B2B lead conversion

Gabriel Lim Avatar

Gabriel Lim | 27 July 2020

"I'm sorry, but now is not a good time. Check back again next quarter."

If you are in B2B sales, the above reply is probably exceedingly familiar to you by now.

You are probably drinking cheap whiskey every night, just to go to sleep, only to wake up in a cold sweat at 3 a.m.

All you want to do, is to turn back the clock 6 months. To a time when the sun was shining, and the honey was flowing. To a time when you easily achieved 170% of quota. Which is probably 150% more than where you are now.

Slowly, the doubts creep in.

"Was I ever a good salesperson?"

"Is it just me who is facing all these rejections now?"

Hello-Darkness-AffleckI have some reassuring news. It's not just you. Also, things are not as dire as they seem. And we have the data to prove it.

Quick Primer: About Saleswhale Labs

Before we dive into the data, here's a quick explanation on how we get our data at Saleswhale Labs.

We analyze anonymized data from our AI assistants' email conversations using natural language processing.

Our customers have access to their own conversational data in their Saleswhale dashboard:

Screen Shot 2020-07-28 at 12.46.47 AM

Once we analyzed the anonymized data, we aggregate them by customer segments.

For this post, we analyzed 735,346 email conversations across B2B companies, and look at how COVID has impacted lead conversion rates, and rejection reasons from Q3 2019 to Q2 2020.

Screen Shot 2020-07-28 at 12.15.19 AM

First, some bad news.

Indeed, COVID has a disproportionate effect on leads being less open to take sales conversations right now.

But how bad?

82% more reluctant in Q2 2020 than in Q1 2020. Ouch.

Anonymized Data from July 2019 - June 2020.001-1

The lockdowns started on the 15th of March, 2020 in the United States.

You can see a huge spike in "no need right now" and "not interested" rejection reasons once the lockdowns kicked in, and companies started to shift to work-from-home.

If we zoom in for a more granular view, and focus specifically on the 'no need right now' rejection reason, we see a steady upward trend since Jan 1 2020.

Screen Shot 2020-07-28 at 1.09.58 AM

You might be wondering what this means for you.

Is the entire economy melting down?

Are B2B buyers never going to buy again?

Should you resume your Codeacademy lessons, and plan for a career switch as a programmer?

Not so soon.

Data shows that 45% of B2B leads who enquire about a product or service, will eventually buy.

There are some caveats:

  • The above data has never been stress-tested in a global pandemic.
  • They do end up buying, but eventually. Not necessarily NOW.
  • They do end up buying, but not necessarily from YOU.

Most of us underestimate how long it takes for qualified leads to turn into sales:

DemandGen - 02_01-Challenge-02_Graph-01-1

The actual, real-life behavior looks more like this, instead:

DemandGen - 02_02-Challenge-02_Graph-02-1

And we expect this to be even more pronounced in today's "post-COVID economy".

Like my director of sales, Brandon, likes to say - "Sales is all about timing.

If you don't have an AI assistant that does automated, personalized re-engagement for you every 90 - 120 days, here's what you can do.

Stay in the game.

Keep building those relationships, and adding value to your prospects.

Stay frosty.

We will update this post when our data shows that things are leveling off, and rejection reasons start to go down.

Want to be the first to be informed when winter thaws, and green shoots sprout from the soil again?

Subscribe to our blog here:

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PS. We are running a Masterclass Series where you can get practical advice and insights from the best demand generation minds from Gong, Terminus, TripActions, HubSpot and more. Interested? Check it out here.

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Gabriel Lim Avatar

Gabriel Lim

Co-founder & CEO at Saleswhale


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