Slow sales cycles can be a source of significant frustration for B2B marketers. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to grease the skids, so to speak, and speed up the sales process.
The key to turning your sales funnel into a “slipstream” is to use a broad range of marketing techniques and tactics to accurately identify targets and supply them with the right information.
1. Lead qualification is critical, so you can concentrate your marketing and sales efforts on those most likely to buy. Top quality content is also critical, to capture their interest and retain it as you lead them through your funnel. If you can do that efficiently and effectively, you can accelerate (and increase) conversions.
2. Listen to your audience. Where and how are they searching online for information to make buying decisions? What are their pain points, and how can you help soothe them? What are they talking about within their social networks? This information should drive your marketing decisions, defining content, delivery formats and platforms you choose to attract and engage prospects. It also enables you to segment your audience for tighter targeting.
3. Listen to your own people. Your sales team, customer service, even accounting/finance specialists within your enterprise all have different types of interactions with prospects and customers. Their varying perspectives can augment what you learn about your audience from other sources, in ways that are entirely pertinent to your company and targets. That helps you craft the most timely, irresistible offers for prospects, regardless of their status within your funnel.
4. Use all the tools in your marketing content toolbox. Target your content topics carefully, to appeal to different audience segments and buying stages. Deliver your content over a broad range of formats and channels, to reach more people in the ways they want to be receive information. Do that by studying what resonates most quickly and memorably with your hottest prospects:
- Specific website pages.
- Social media.
- Case studies (storytelling from a B2B perspective).
- Email campaigns.
- Ebooks or whitepapers.
- Tip sheets.
- How-to demonstrations.
- Visuals, such as infographics, photos and videos.
Subject your content to continuous improvement, based on your analytics. It can be especially valuable to tackle potential negatives up front – addressing objections before they’re raised shows prospects you’re “transparent” and, more importantly, replaces concerns with confidence to buy from your company
5. A fast-flowing funnel requires research.
Better data begets better-informed decisions – in this case more accurate targeting. Who are the people you need to reach? Where are they? Who are their influencers? Drawing from a wide spectrum of online and offline resources enables you to learn as much as detail you can. Adopting the right software can both facilitate and strengthen this process, helping you with predictive lead scoring and segmentation, too.
Smartly integrating automation allows your sales people to focus on the personal side of closing sales. That’s still as important as ever, because ultimately people buy from people.
You want your funnel to flow rapidly, but you also want a continuous flow. Closely tracking and evaluating your results will show where you can improve every aspect of lead generation and nurture.
Well-planned strategies enables you to bring all these elements together to shorten your sales cycle. When you do that, you’ll see an improvement in sales and marketing morale. You’ll see an increase in conversion rates as well as speed. And that means you can dramatically improve cash flow, strengthen your company’s position vis-à-vis competitors, and increase your company’s value to investors or other stakeholders.
Photo credit: Anita Ritenour