Shortening the B2B Sales Cycle
Not too long ago, I read a Crain’s Magazine article that stated that it generally takes 5 to 7 face to face sales meetings for an effective salesperson to consummate a sale in today’s selling climate. Just the sound of 7 sales meetings sounds like an expensive proposition even for B2B companies that sell big ticket items. Don’t forget, many sales prospects are not converted into sales. Just imagine the dozens of sales meetings entrepreneurs and salespeople are going on without making a sale in addition to the 7 meetings it takes for a sale to be made. The end result: Lots of expenses and little income to show for it. Further, even worse: decreased enthusiasm from business owners and their salespeople to fully engage directly in the sales process.
Here are 5 modern day strategies that can shorten the sales cycle in any B2B business so profits can be generated in a consistent, accelerated manner:
1) Develop an Accurate Prospect List of Your Target Market
It is important to know your target market, the companies’ names, addresses, purchasing agents, principals, decision makers, and executives. Without a target list, it is difficult to execute even simple marketing efforts. Many companies we know use list services such as Hoovers or Info USA to acquire prospect lists. The problem with these lists is that not all the information on the list is accurate and there are limits with regard to identifying certain kinds of decision makers that do not have fancy executive titles. Further, oftentimes revenue and employee data is inaccurate, therefore not helping the B2B company gauge into the real size of the commercial entity that is being targeted. So what is the best way to develop a target list? Our answer is simple: Purchase a list and designate a telemarketer or call agent to call the commercial entities on the list proposing the idea to the prospect of buying your product or service. At worst, you will get the updated decision maker’s contact info, email address etc. At best, you may even procure interest in your product and service which is the first step of making a sale. By having an accurate prospect list of your target market, you will be able to target decision makers of desirable commercial entities on an ongoing basis.
2) Invest in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System
In today’s market, it is sales suicide not to utilize a CRM system which is simply a database tool used to manage your sales process. An effective CRM system records all your prospects data, can help you systematize and categorize all leads, records on a written basis all initial and follow up communication with prospects and current clients, helps you identify the amount of sales leads your company is generating, helps you calculate your sales conversion rate and much more. If you want to accelerate your sales process, you must have access to data that you can use to close more sales. Without the use of a CRM, you are operating in the dinosaur age, which is an age that will lengthen your sales cycle and stymie your closing success rate.
3) Use Modern Day Email Marketing and Social Media Outreach to Keep in Touch
In addition to a CRM system, our modern day world has blessed us with email marketing programs and social media venues to stay in touch with sales prospects. These venues and programs enable you to communicate messages to prospects in a diverse, consistent manner. There is no excuse for you not to be plugged into LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube. There are even other venues to tap into that are now being expanded and developed- Pinterest, Tumblr, SlideShare, etc. Further, videos, blogs, and e-newsletters are tools that can be used to keep in touch with prospects via email in a productive modern day way.
4) Designate someone in Your Company to Follow Up with all Sales Leads
One of the major weaknesses that both salespeople and entrepreneurs have is their ability to follow up and convert long term sales leads. Long term sales leads are prospects that fit your target market but do not buy immediately; oftentimes these are some of your better buyers and have to be courted overtime. One way to protect a business from poor follow up is to simply designate someone to follow up with long term leads in addition to using social media venues and email marketing venues. The purpose of this kind of follow up is not to sell. Rather, it is to keep in touch with prospects, educate them about new developments, confirm that they are receiving electronic communication from your company, and discover what is preventing them from buying.
5) Focus Salespeople on Money-Making Activities
It is important to support your sales staff with marketing and administration so that they can focus on closing sales. If you or your salespeople are stuck doing administrative duties, your sales cycle can become longer and your sales conversion rate can suffer.
If you want to learn more about strategies for shortening the B2B selling cycle, fell free to call us at 201-496-6931 or email us at email@example.com.