Posted on August 25th, 2020
In the realm of B2B marketing, the cycle from interest to consideration to purchase can take a long time. While every brand will experience a different time to conversion, B2B sales cycles tend to take anywhere from 3 months to 18 months to convert into a customer. The longest sales cycles tend to be associated with SaaS companies. If your marketing materials are unable to continually provide valuable content to your leads, then the likelihood those leads fall off of your radar increases.
Let’s explore a few avenues that can be pursued to bring alignment internally, increase relevance and engagement externally, and shorten the sales cycle by weeding through the noise and providing solutions to your prospects’ problems more quickly and efficiently.
Build cross-functional internal relationships and systems to support nurture efforts
Marketing + Sales alignment is critical to every efficiently run B2B campaign. Make it a priority to engage in cross-functional conversations during the content strategy and development stages of your campaigns.
Continuously update your CRM with valuable information specific to each lead, and integrate your CRM with your content management system. This will help with lead scoring and nurture segmentation. You can then set up triggers to deliver content based upon historical behavior patterns – for example if folks engage with a specific piece of content, fill out a form, open an email etc. Related to continuously updating, is having a process in place to routinely clean up your CRM to remove cold leads.
Work with the sales team to define the “ideal” customer profile. Use that information to work with both the content and the sales team to map out the buyer journey. If sales and marketing are misaligned, the process won’t simply take longer, there will be fewer sales. And, if your content strategy isn’t answering the questions that sales folks are hearing on the front lines, the message will not resonate.
Other teams within your org can also contribute to your content strategy. The customer success team can communicate best features of your products and service that are highly reviewed. Conversely, they can help identify any weaknesses and gaps that existing customers are highlighting. Your dev team can help by providing roadmaps to internal teams to highlight upcoming feature releases or adjustments in offerings, and content teams can deploy messaging in support of the dev team roadmap – potentially reaching prospects who may be in need of your offer when the feature(s) are rolled out.
Build external relationships
Maintain relevance with your customers. This requires content production in a manner that addresses your prospects’ pain points and answers their questions. Imagine for a moment that every page on your website, every ebook, every email, every piece of content focuses on solving a pain point. Imagine these were all considered part of your sales team. How many of your sales team members would you hire or fire based upon the outputs (i.e. content)? Be intentional with your content, address the problems with solutions.
Engaging with a decision maker at an organization will require a different message and approach than engaging with an individual product/service user. Are you a SaaS company? If so, consider a community section within your website. Your evangelists and “super users” can be your best customer success representatives…they love you, and have been working with you for years. They also have asked and answered a lot of the most common questions about your products/services. Starting a community can be a fantastic way to increase engagement within your customer base, and can put people to work for you that don’t work at your company. Social proof is a powerful influence in purchasing decisions – whether B2B or B2C.
Martech automation not only lessens the amount of administration tasks for a sales team, but helps with shortening the sales cycle overall.
Sales Automation tools
Use sales automation to empower your sales team to be more efficient, beyond just routing leads to appropriate sales teams or individuals.
- Scheduling calls / meetings – when new clients submit the contact form on website, deliver an automated email that goes out with a calendar link where prospect can view availability and schedule their first sales meeting
- Workflow management – using inputs from the contact form on a website, use Zapier to route the leads to the appropriate sales team in your project management or CRM system. If your sales team is split up by company size or revenue amounts, then you can use Zapier to dump the contact info into appropriate sales team queue
Chatbots or live chats can get information more quickly into the hands of your prospects.
- Using chatbots or live chat, organizations can automate pre-sales processes like qualifying leads, data analysis, identifying problems/solutions and responding to customer inquiries
- Bots can collect info to empower your sales reps to have a more complete picture of the lead before they make an initial call to them.
Email automation campaigns are among the top three tactics used by email marketers to improve performance.
- Use automation to deliver your follow up messages and drip campaigns
- If most of your follow up emails contain the same bone structure, then consider using templates with merge tags or dynamic content to personalize for each of the leads and their specific inquiries
- Segment your prospects based upon where they are at in the sales process (prospects, cold leads, hot leads, customers, advocates, evangelists)
A lot of what we discuss here are the fundamentals of how a well-oiled B2B lead machine works. As with everything, the devil is in the details…and more so in the execution. In addition to these lead cycle execution tips, our team has put together a Brief Guide to B2B Marketing – that focuses on campaign planning and the best B2B channel strategies. Download it for free, and as always, we are on hand to lend you a hand with your B2B marketing efforts. Check out our available audits, which reveal high-level opportunity gaps and provide actionable strategies to get your marketing optimized, or reach out and let us know how we can help!