The findings of the 2017 Demand Gen Report reveal that B2B buyer’s journeys are becoming longer and more complex. When asked about the purchase cycles, fifty eight percent of the respondents agreed that the length of their purchase cycle had significantly increased over the past year.
One of the biggest challenges sales teams face while working in a B2B environment is an incredibly long and arduous sales cycle. Though B2B is notoriously known for it’s lengthy sales processes, these sales cycles proved to be time consuming and are often unpredictable. For example, you’ve been nurturing your lead for four months now, and at the end they decline your offer. Now, this entire period you’ve not only wasted your efforts but also wasted valuable time in nurturing wrong leads. Shortening your sales cycle helps you reduce this time and helps you increase conversions by choosing the most qualified leads.
Before we get into how you can shorten B2B sales cycles, let’s take a minute to reflect on why B2B sales cycles are typically so long and how that might potentially affect your business.
Why are B2B sales long?
As the name suggests, B2B sales process involves selling your solutions to a business whereas in B2C you sell your product/service to an individual. So in B2C you are essentially convincing only a single person whereas in B2B you are selling it to an entire hierarchy of employees of an organization. B2B sales are broad and have a drawn out process, since it involves a number of key decision makers. In a B2C scenario, you get to convince only a single person and so, we concentrate on maximizing our sales transactions.
In B2B, each sale requires an in-depth understanding of the buyer and solutions have to be aligned to suit the requirements of the particular buyer. Be it a product or a service, you have to fit your solutions into the already existing business operations of your buyer, which is the key reason behind the lengthy sales process.
Long Cycle Challenges
Long cycles comprise of Education, Consideration and Decision stages.
In B2B, several top level decision makers are involved and you will have to speak to each one of them and educate them about your solutions. You literally have to talk to everyone. Then comes the consideration phase, where you need to address the specific needs of your client and make them understand how your solutions are tailored to suit their requirements.
And finally you have the key challenge of making them choose you. Like we discussed earlier, in B2B, there are several people involved in the buying decision. Each one has different viewpoints based on their expertise, hence their perspective towards your solutions may also vary. Sometimes someone who really likes your pitch may not have a final say and the one who does may not become an immediate fan.
Tricky isn’t it? We agree too. This leads to excruciatingly long cycles that spell bad news both for your business and the commission you had your eye on.
But, there is a way to speed up the sales cycle and we’ll show you how in this blog.
Here is a glimpse into our tried and tested strategies:
1. Know Your Ideal Persona
Too often, we find sales teams wasting tremendous efforts on unqualified leads that engage in sales conversations for a long time and get all the information and proposals they require, and yet turn your down at the end. This is both disheartening and a waste of time that could have been spent on potential prospects.
A careful selection of the buyer persona helps sales teams get a clear picture of whom they are targeting and relatively strategize how these specific people can be approached. Targeting the right buyer persona also helps them narrow down the top level decision makers and influencers, which in turn helps the sales cycle move smoothly. As we understand these buyer personas, we will create content addressing their requirements and optimize it in a way that they are chosen by the clients.This process is not just easy but takes shorter time for the sales team to close the deal.
Your potential buyers need a solution to their business, not your sales pitch!
Ideally sales cycles are shortened when your buyer is in an urgent need of a solution you provide. Make sure to seize such opportunities and concentrate on providing relevant solutions to their requirements. This can be achieved by investing time to qualify your leads in the initial stages.
2. Have A Well-Defined Sales Process
Keep your ideal buyers in mind and establish a formal sales process for your organization as it helps in optimizing the sales cycle. Though the clients vary in several aspects, a formal sales process directs you to the most effective sales cycle.
A well-structured sales process also helps you identify the problem areas which typically cause prolonged sales processes. Review these areas, evaluate and discover ways to eliminate these problems. A regular process evaluation speeds up B2B sales and provides a defined roadmap to successful closures.
3. Talk to the Decision Makers
B2B sales usually involve a number of decision makers. Content should be your weapon of choice when you want to be heard by all of them. One size obviously doesn’t fit all.
So, speak their language!
Each decision maker comes from a different field and impacts the sales process in a different way. Create a buyer persona for each stakeholder and start publishing content that assertively addresses the concerns of your buyers. In this case, not only do you need to know which businesses can be your potential clients but you will also need to know whether you are talking to the right person from the organization.Target these specific people.
4. Address their concerns
Address their pain points! Early stage lead-nurturing is very important. Remember that these are the people who need solutions from you. During the initial interaction with the prospects, pay heed to their concern areas and eventually strategize solutions addressing these problems. Forget the notion that all sales cycles are lengthy – just keep working on solutions to their problems.
The quicker you identify and provide solutions to these problems, the shorter your sales processes would be. Don’t forget that these quick actions not only shortens your sales cycles but also gives you a competitive edge in the market.
5. Connect on an emotional level
Know your prospects. A thorough research of your buyer personas will reveal crucial information about their preferences. Carefully choose your high priority leads and develop compelling messages that match their interests. As you present strategies that match the client’s preferences, there is a higher chance for the client to approve the sales processes subconsciously, shortening the sales process further.
Remember that B2B sales never take place impulsively. It takes time. But armed with these strategies, you can help decision makers and influencers, including C-level and managerial executives, make their decision faster. By equipping them with the right information and knowledge, you are allowing them to visualize the benefits of your product or service and how it can seamlessly fit into their existing business processes.
Do you have any tips or tricks you have used to speed up the sales cycle? We’d love to hear your thoughts.