Mercury will be in retrograde 3 more times in 2023 – an astronomical phenomenon that has many sales people, marketers, Millennials and Gen Z’s quaking in their boots! Well, maybe not “quaking” but, astrological events are just one of the many influences that could be impacting your prospective client’s decision making timelines. JP Morgan himself stated “Millionaires don’t need astrologers, but billionaires do”, and with a net worth equivalent to $2.2 billion in today’s currency, that is an opinion worth taking note of.
Clever Marketing or Something Deeper?
Marketing strategies often utilise trends, public holidays, world events and celebrity behaviour for increased recall through association. 32% of people in the UK use horoscopes monthly, with 55% of those admitting that these horoscopes heavily influence their financial decisions, according to research conducted by Barclays Bank.
This fascination with astrology can be seen around the world. In France, the home of one of the most renowned Western astrologers Nostradamus, businesses within the financial and restaurant sectors are already capitalising on this to capture their target market’s imagination. Swile, an employee benefits company that provides a suite of offerings for employee engagement, is one such example.
By aligning these themes in their marketing, with novel marketing such as tarot card reading events on LinkedIn live to predict participants’ professional futures, they have been able to experiment with their marketing strategies, while keeping things new and interesting for their astrology-inclined audiences.
So should you be using astrological events, like Mercury in retrograde, to your advantage in campaigns? Is it actually affecting your sales team’s performance? Before we get into that, we have to answer a key question.
What is Mercury in Retrograde?
Mercury being in retrograde means that Mercury’s orbit appears to be in an apparent backwards motion when compared to the orbit of the other planets. The important thing to note here is the “apparent”; its backwards motion is completely illusionary. This motion, however, seems to instil a sense of uncertainty in the modern zeitgeist, as Mercury is associated with communication in astrology and so, when it moves in reverse, it is said to cause confusion, anxiety and delays.
Whether you think astrology is the result of the Barnum Effect or a pathway to something higher, there is no denying that many businesses have struggled with sales in the current climate.
So What Does Mercury Being in Retrograde Mean for Sales?
The first quarter for most businesses is slow, which has been exacerbated by the economic downturn as Q2, Q3 and Q4 in 2022 had a negative economic growth for many businesses. Q4 is also notoriously difficult for sales, as, often, the sales team are attempting to sell to companies that have slowed operations in preparation for the holidays.
Chorus, a Zoominfo company, analyses calls made over Zoom by sales representatives to collect data and find patterns. They found, after analysing 500k sales conversations, that, in December, discussions about the upcoming months lacked strategy planning. This lack of planning was also found by sales representatives not scheduling follow-up correspondence with potential prospects.
As a result, it is believed that prospects forgot about the products and services being offered to them by January, which could be why Q1 is so much slower than the other sales quarters.
While we cannot know for sure if this breakdown in communication was the retrograde working its magic or sales people losing motivation, the research indicates that certain elements of the sales cycle could be better optimised to mitigate some of these issues.
Since you can’t stop the planets from moving, let’s start with better optimising your sales cycles.
We have outlined the best ways to make your sales processes durable so it can withstand any changes in your buyer’s behaviour and better support your sales team, regardless of the motion of the planets.
Understanding Buyer Behaviour
A customer’s experience with your brand is the difference between losing a sale and creating advocacy. Understanding what fuels your customer, their decisions, values and pain points, better equips you to position your brand as the best solution for the customer’s unique needs, keeping you front-of-mind throughout the sales cycles.
All of your activity should be focused around improving your customer experience and that requires a deep understanding of your buyer – an area with which your marketing teams can definitely help sales teams, by sharing detailed buyer personas.
For instance, your customers may not be interested in astrology, but are your customers eco-conscious? A study by HubSpot found that customers are four times more loyal to eco-friendly businesses, which is something brands like Swile understand. Aligning your value proposition with the values of your customer and surfacing this information to them can help accelerate your sales cycle.
When this kind of customer-centric thinking is taken into account and quantified through market research and testing, you are far more likely to market your brand to your customers in a way that keeps it front of mind. Response rates too, from sales prospects marketed to in this way, can increase by up to 150% according to the B2B Institute, but even with these kinds of strategies in place to elevate your brand, many businesses struggle to maintain consistent lead and customer volume.
This is where businesses can benefit from an inbound strategy.
Transitioning from Cold Outbound to Warm Inbound
We’ve all been guilty of prioritising tasks that give us immediate gratification over those that take time to bear fruit (yes, I could have made a healthy lunch, but the Mars bar seemed the better option at the time). Prospecting can be a time consuming task, with 30-40% of the average salesperson’s week to devoted it. But, what if there was a way to make it easier?
This can be achieved by prioritising your inbound enquiries rather than relying solely on outbound strategies that are difficult to maintain in the long-term. 46% of marketers reported that inbound marketing gives them a higher ROI, while only 12% chose outbound marketing, and with customer behaviour changing as a result of the looming recession, it is important to focus on your most effective marketing strategies.
Inbound marketing, which can be supercharged by partnering with lead generation businesses like MVF, delivers customers that are interested in your product or service and motivated to buy. This is especially true when you incorporate lead generation companies that can guarantee high-intent, qualified leads as part of your inbound strategy. You can create a consistent and scalable source of leads that can be fed to your sales team, and with 59% of sales people stating that inbound marketing gives them higher quality leads than outreach alone, it is definitely worth considering.
With a more resilient and reliable pipeline to work through, growth won’t be affected by busy periods where teams can’t prospect, or soft markets where cultivating a stream of engaged buyers feels near to impossible. This reduces the pressure of prospecting and the sales teams can focus on what they’re fantastic at – turning qualified leads into pipelines.
Don’t Retrograde Like Mercury…
Keeping up-to-date with, and incorporating, pop culture into your campaigns is just one way of taking into consideration what might be affecting your buyer’s decisions while capturing their attention and keeping your brand front-of-mind. At the same time, this can prove difficult for many brands, so, by integrating some of these ideas into your strategy, your growth is less likely to fluctuate with shifts in your customer habits.