How long is your typical sales cycle? For high end B2B sales teams, it can take months, if not years, to finally close that big-ticket sale. In an earlier post this year, I pointed out some passive ways to find the right leads and help them decide to buy from you. In this post we’ll take a look at the fundamental reasons for the “close gap” and suggest some easy ways to accelerate buy decisions with inbound marketing and lead nurturing working together with human touch points.
Why is my sales cycle so long?
Pricing and competitive factors come into play, but some of the reluctance to close today may not be related to your products and services at all. Here are some common issues:
- It’s a big investment, so we want to be sure we get it right the first time
- We have a formal evaluation process we always go through
- Our evaluation team is composed of busy people; hard to meet and reach agreement
- The marketplace is constantly changing; we don’t want to get caught with obsolete solutions
- We need to be able to thoroughly test your products/services before we commit
- We anticipate big internal changes in the next few quarters and don’t know what our needs and budget will be
Now, how can inbound marketing help to reduce or eliminate some of these factors and shorten the sales cycle?
#1 – Address these issues head-on in blogs, webinars and social media
Stop talking about how great your products are and start talking about how they solve problems for your buyers. Demonstrate real examples of success where a customer had these very same concerns (see above) and benefited by a quicker, more streamlined decision. It’s fair game to ask your customers for this information, after all, they benefit when their prospects read or hear about how proactive and aggressive they are in their markets.
#2 – Team up with your customers to deliver valuable messages
Invite your customers to participate with you in a webinar that addresses the pain points you helped them overcome and how they did it. Show timelines and results. Talk about milestones and ROI. Your mission is to show the benefits of decisiveness and rapid action. We often talk about the end results, but how often do we emphasize time-to-market or short term gains in market share? Especially for early stage companies, these factors are crucial to survival and next-stage investment. For more mature companies, leanness and productivity improvement are natural outcomes from a more flexible, decisive approach.
#3 – Nurture your prospects, not your fans
You only have so much marketing bandwidth, so allocate it wisely. Is your lead nurturing strategy aimed at pleasing your “fan base,” the people who follow you and subscribe to your content but don’t necessarily buy? Are you generating lots of content for these folks in the hope that someday they will evolve into customers? Maybe you should spend less time on top and mid funnel content for the general masses and more time on identifying real prospects in your funnel and nurturing them with more targeted content with specific solutions for their needs.
#4 – Don’t be afraid to reach out by phone
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