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Maintaining fintech sales pipelines during COVID-19

Apr 07, 2020

Selling fintech, or any technology solution for that matter, into financial services firms is usually a long-term proposition. 

Financial services companies typically acquire new technology either to increase internal efficiencies or enhance the user experience. Almost every decision must include considerations of data security and privacy, financial stability of the vendor and regulatory concerns. The role of fintech sales has, paradoxically, always been a very personal and hands-on experience. 

Over the last several weeks, the circumstances from the standpoint of the fintech buyer look something like this – maintaining appropriate social distancing with many team members being separated, while still attempting to operate business at some level. 

In reality, most financial services organizations that are consumer and small business facing did not have the infrastructure in place to make remote work happen quickly or efficiently. Additionally, as expected during this time of year, most organizations are dealing with employees who are sick. Whether or not they have COVID-19, they aren’t taking any chances and are either sending people home or keeping them away all together. 

Chances are, with everything else going on in the world right now, that technology solution you have been talking about is not currently among their top priorities. With that in mind, it’s still important to make sure you are staying in touch with your contacts so that you are not starting from scratch when we eventually resume a sense of “normalcy.”

When looking at ongoing conversations with prospects, the appropriate first communication is a check-in on how the institution is faring through the crisis and how the individual is doing personally. Many fintech companies are offering or repurposing their solutions at a reduced price to help them solve immediate problems such as infrastructure issues relating to remote work, facilitating online payments or effective outbound electronic communications. 

It is best to let the prospects set the tone as to how fast to move forward in the sale process with the underlying message being “we will move as soon as you want to.” Some will want to proceed as quickly as practical, while others may want to slow down or even halt the process, but the friendly touch-base calls are likely to drive additional opportunities in the long-run.

In addition to maintaining relationships with prospects, it is equally critical to reach out to your existing customers. Once it became clear that COVID-19 was going to be disruptive to them and their existing customers, fintech companies across the board did an excellent job of reaching out and offering their services. As mentioned earlier, one strategy we’ve seen is that companies have repurposed their solutions to help their end users solve an immediate problem. 

Some examples have included:

  • Repurposing a web and mobile-enabled cross-selling platform and using it to communicate critical information to customers and local markets
  • Using IT security capabilities to rapidly deploy work from home solutions for financial services employees 
  • Implementing tools that allow customers to receive payments digitally

Financial services companies rely on technology companies to expand their offerings, and helping out during a time of need is not only the right thing to do, but also creates goodwill and will likely drive future opportunities.

Prospecting and lead generation can be challenging in the current environment; however, financial services companies, like all of us, have growth and strategic objectives to meet and they will need to refocus and consider new solutions. 

Traditional lead generating activities such as conferences and industry-focused networking events are now prohibited and other marketing activities such as webinars and cold calling campaigns seem to fall on deaf ears amongst all the noise. 

That being said, “remote” prospecting and lead generation is still doable – and very much necessary to keep the momentum of your business going. Many companies are converting sales communications/demos to recorded video and using video conferences for sales meetings with web-based applications like Microsoft Teams, Skype or Zoom. 

Some have even started completely new forms of marketing through channels like podcasting or v-logging.  

At the end of the day, ensuring prospects and current customers view your company as a helpful partner through the chaos will go a long way in building trust. In addition, adjusting your marketing message to focus on the features that address the problems in the current environment is imperative.  

Finally, remember to be a sounding board and allow your customers and prospects to truly open up and talk about what they are going through – a lot of them are under tremendous stress.  

Once the dust has settled, the buyers will remember who listened, who helped and who did nothing. 

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Terry Ammons, CPA, CISA, CTPRP
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