It’s a sales manager’s dream:
A potential client shows up on the company’s radar. The marketing team reaches out to explain exactly how their business can help the customer. The sales team then reaches out to hammer out the details of the transaction. The client signs on the dotted line.
Everybody wins - quickly.
Unfortunately, as I said, this hypothetical scenario is usually just that: a fairy tale with little to no basis in reality.
The truth is, a lot can happen during any part of this overall interaction that could slow the process of making a sale to a crawl - or cause it to come to a halt entirely.
Of course, the longer a prospect spends in the sales funnel, the more costly the conversion ends up being to the company. Conversely, the less time a prospect spends in “conversion limbo,” the higher the company’s profit margin becomes for that customer.
In this article, we’ll take a look at four ways B2B companies can shorten their sales cycle without sacrificing the value they provide their customers in the process.
Let’s get started.
4 Ways to Shorten Your Company’s B2B Sales Cycle
Before we discuss these simple ways to shorten your sales cycle, let’s reiterate that the goal is not to “trick” prospects into purchasing before they’re ready.
Rather than explaining how to quickly shuffle prospects through the sales process just to make a sale, these tactics will show you how to get them to a stage of “readiness” in a more efficient manner.
Stay Laser-Focused on Qualified Leads
You, of course, know that not every lead you come into contact with is going to end up becoming a customer.
Even so, you may still be spending way too much time, money, and energy on leads that seem to have a high probability of converting - but that doesn't end up taking that much-needed final step.
And, even the leads that do end up purchasing your goods or services might spend way too much time in the middle of the sales cycle - costing your company money in the process.
To address the first issue, you’ll need to revisit your lead-scoring process, considering factors such as buyer personas, firmographics, and behavioral data. In contrast with the traditional BANT method of sales qualification, which looks at the process in terms of how it relates to your company, assessing the above-mentioned segmentation data allows you to take a customer-first approach. Again, remember that your goal isn’t to sell more quickly - it’s to prepare your customers to make a purchase more quickly.
The second issue deals with your marketing and sales teams’ ability to contact the right individual within your target organization. The longer your teams spend chasing down decision-makers, the longer it will take actually to make a sale. Additionally, it’s important to consider who these decision-makers are (both in terms of their organization and as individuals). In other words, your teams need to know how these individuals operate, what value they’re looking to get from your services, and what your team can do to get them closer to making a purchase.
To use two cliched metaphors: The first piece of advice will help your team avoid barking up the wrong tree, chasing leads that won’t provide a worthwhile ROI. The second piece of advice is meant to keep your team from embarking on a wild goose chase, spending way too much time trying to connect with the decision-makers at your target company.
Add Value Throughout the Funnel
This goes back to what we’ve been saying all along:
Your goal is to prepare your prospects to purchase from your company - and to be confident that doing so is the right decision. You can do so by providing value - such as educational and informational content - continuously throughout the sales process.
Now, it may be so that your prospective customers don’t even realize they have a need for your services. In that case, they may need to be provided content that “opens their eyes” to some of the major problems companies in their industry have recently faced. A white paper detailing such issues from an objective point of view can be incredibly effective for this purpose.
As prospects inch closer to becoming paying customers, supplemental content (e.g., blog posts, instructional videos, and case studies) can continue to help them come around to the fact that they need help in a certain area, and that your company is their best bet for getting this help.
Additionally, your teams should make themselves available as much as possible to answer any questions and address any concerns prospects may have at any time - forging a relationship built on trust that will make them much more likely to do business with you in the near future.
Automate and Streamline Processes
We’ve talked about this before:
Though you should be providing personalized attention to every one of your prospects and customers, there are certainly times in which automating outreach and content delivery is not only acceptable but is preferable.
For example, as we mentioned in the previous section, there will be times in which your prospects need more information before becoming ready to take the next step as a customer. During these times, they may or may not want to spend time speaking with an actual member of your marketing or sales team - they just want to get the info they need, then spend time learning on their own. By automating the delivery of white papers and other content (through email signup forms, for example), you allow prospects to get what they need when they need it.
Another example is during the actual process of making a purchase. Now, for first-time customers, it’s more beneficial for both parties that you take a hands-on approach to this process. But you can still streamline the procedure by allowing for multiple payment options, providing financing, and other such tactics.
Continuously Assess Your Sales Funnel
You should never consider your B2B sales funnel to be set in stone. There will always be changes you can make to improve a prospect’s chances of making a purchase, and to decrease the amount of time they spend in limbo.
At regular intervals throughout the year, assess the conversion rate of your marketing qualified leads, sales qualified
Of course, it’s also important to assess the average time your customers spend in the sales cycle from beginning to end. You can then look at specific instances (such as those who spent the shortest and longest times within the funnel), assessing differences among the experiences of each, to determine what works - and what doesn’t - in terms of getting your prospects ready to buy.
There’s no doubt that getting a prospect to close in the first place is cause for celebration.
But if your leads and prospects are taking so long to become paying customers that they cut heavily into your company’s profits, there’s a problem.
By working to prepare your prospects for conversion as quickly as possible, you’ll not only save your company time and money, but you’ll be able to put those saved resources to good use.
Check out how Apruve can help you streamline the purchasing process for both you and your clients, allowing you to focus on providing top-quality service to your entire customer base.