The sales season is getting started in B2B

About the expert:

Dmitriy Paliants is Head of the BetConstruct regional sales department, and has been since October 2020. He was the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) from 2017. He has had previous success bringing companies to the US market. His first large scale gambling project was bringing TVBET to America. The company was short listed for all the main international awards. He has increased the number of customers from 50 to over 200 in around one and a half years. He has been a guest speaker at many international conferences.

The crisis hasn’t affected BetConstruct globally

I guess the first thing that Covid19 pandemic brought to light is the fact that even large companies are very vulnerable to the things that cannot be predicted. The market environment as a whole has changed drastically since the pandemic began. Everyone turned towards online activities and casinos. Even some companies who had never had a casino section before decided to either launch barely legal (or sometimes just illegal) websites or expand their own product range by adding video slots, poker and so on. Many companies managed to survive 2020 thanks mainly to that. However it is true that not everyone survived, about 100 bookmakers folded last year in CIS region.

Some casino providers have grown up to 500%. This sort of massive growth can not be achieved when there is a stable market. Synthetic content has been growing too with tennis played without crowds for example, and the idea of 24/7 tournaments, this has been developing, too.

The crisis hasn’t affected our company too badly. BetConstruct has grown staff numbers, office have opened and products have been launched. We had market redistribution. We used to have many retail shop demands in the CIS region but in 2020 it almost disappeared. Still we managed to compensate for this by increasing our white label website sales.

It takes more time to close a deal

For me the main change to my working day because of the pandemic is that there are no business trips now. It’s a shame. Most deals are made at the exhibitions when you can sit at the table with a partner, negotiate and sign a contract.

How partners collaborate and how clients are found has changed. The gambling market is often quite a closed one. It’s pretty hard to break in if you are from the outside. Exhibitions were a place where people directly (or indirectly) connected to the business could gather. It was easy to find clients there and grow and develop your business thanks to that. The organizers tried to compensate for the absence of events with online exhibitions in 2020. This format wasn’t really successful though. We didn’t see the volumes we could see at ICE a year ago at any of the digital events.

It is very important for us because we work in B2B. We don’t sell sweets that cost maybe a dollar or so. We sell a high-tech product that costs tens of thousands of dollars. There are only about twenty companies in the market that can offer a product such as ours. That’s why we have to have a longer term collaboration and understand what kind of problems our potential clients have when we start working with them. We have to solve these problems with our product.

Cold contacts can be pretty effective too, but they take significantly more time. It is best when a person is ready they come for a particular product knowing what they really want. In this case the deal will be closed very quickly or at least much quicker than selling a product to a large European company that doesn’t know anything about us. For example, during the pandemic we managed to close a deal within two weeks. There was a client that told us that they wanted a particular product. We signed a contract the same day, and they finished integration within two weeks.

In general it takes more time to close a deal at the moment because most of our clients’ staff work remotely. It makes the process longer, because decisions can take longer to be made, and it also takes longer to come to agreement between parties. The mechanics of closing a deal remain the same but the approach has changed and it all takes more time.

I wouldn’t say it’s a difficulty. Instead I’d say that it’s been a change. B2B sales take a lot of time in general. Most of the deals are closed within 2-6 months in CIS and 6-12 months in Europe.

The quicker speed of the former Soviet countries is connected to their mentality I guess. Everything is built upon trust and things go faster when there are recommendations. It’s a bit harder with the Europeans because there are more problems with numbers and conditions. They count all the possible risks and weigh it against the potential income, they try to get the best conditions for them. Europe is conservative and slow. The CIS is a developing market with more dynamics.

The market has recovered. Now it’s time to sell.

The winter is over and the sales season is getting started. The year used to begin with the ICE which paved the way for all the sales. Now everything’s more volatile. Nevertheless, the demand is there and negotiations are increasing. The market is waking up and our customers are looking to bring their plans to life.

Usually companies hold a strategic meeting in December to look at the upcoming year. They determine their priorities and list the tasks that need to be completed. All these things are discussed and plans finalised over the next month or month and a half. Everyone actively starts to bring the strategies to life at the end of February, or perhaps the beginning of March. It’s like a seasonal revitalisation of the company. It’s not connected to sports and large events like the UEFA cup or the EUROs. It’s connected to the end of their planning and the time for actions to begin.

I should say that the market has already recovered to some extent. From the data we have it is now back at the level of the end of 2019. It has bounced back very quickly. It was predicted in the first half of 2020 that the recovery would take 3-5 years. The reason for the faster recovery in my opinion is a pretty simple one. Companies always optimize their work at a time of crisis. They decrease their expenditure, for example we know that everyone decreased their marketing budget to almost zero during the lockdown. Companies sought out  new income streams and they tried to diversify their portfolio. I believe that companies managed to recover fast because they found these new sources of income.

The world has already calmed down quite a bit from the pandemics height. The market is getting stable. I believe we will see more fierce competition in the second part of 2021. The year of 2020 is over and put behind us, now everyone starts new communication campaigns to either sustain or improve their positions.

It’s March now and we’re actively starting a new sales season. I really hope that in 2021 we catch up to the previous years performances and I also hope that the roll out of vaccines will finally let us get back to travelling, business trips, and a more stable, predictable way of life.