Don’t let long sales cycles slow you down. Targeted and engaging quality content, addressing buyers’ needs and carefully planned execution move deals faster and smoother.
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 in order to accurately identify the right targets and supply them with the right information.
One of the most critical parts of lead acceleration is lead qualification. By qualifying leads correctly, you can focus your marketing and sales efforts on those leads that are most likely to buy. In addition, top quality content is critical. High quality content helps you to capture and retain your audience’s attention as you lead them down the funnel. By qualifying the right leads and engaging them with the right content, you can accelerate (and increase) conversions.
Listen to your audience
Where and how is your audience searching for information online 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 and help you define content, delivery formats and choose the right platforms to attract and engage prospects. It also enables you to segment your audience for tighter targeting.
Listen to your team
Your sales team, customer service, and even accounting or finance specialists within your organization may 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. These can help you craft the most timely, irresistible offers for prospects, regardless of their status within your funnel.
Find the right formats and channels
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 ways they want to receive information. Do that by studying what resonates most quickly and memorably with your hottest prospects:
- Specific website pages
- Blog posts
- 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
It can be especially valuable to tackle potential negatives up front – addressing objections before they are raised. This shows prospects that you are “transparent” and, more importantly, replaces concerns with confidence to buy from your company.
Do your 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 detail you can.
Adopting the right software can both facilitate and strengthen this process, by helping you with predictive lead scoring and segmentation. 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.
Track your results
Subject your content to continuous improvement, based on your analytics. 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 enable 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 conversion 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.
Jeanne Hopkins is the Senior VP of Marketing and CMO at Continuum Managed Services. She was Vice President of Marketing at HubSpot, where her marketing leadership helped the company become the second-fastest growing software company in the Inc. 500, by generating over 50,000 net new leads each month. She was also CMO of SmartBear and MECLabs, owner of MarketingSherpa, MarketingExperiments and InTouch, as well as Senior Director, Marketing Programs and Communications for Symmetricom.
Follow Jeanne on Twitter @jeannehopkins.