Shortening the B2B Sales Cycle: This is how it works

Achieving a contract more efficiently is a focus for every company. However, this is often not so easy. To effectively shorten the B2B sales cycle, strategies must be carefully developed.

Sales Cycle

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Marketing Automation for B2B Companies
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What is the Sales Cycle?

The sales cycle consists of several phases in which a company takes clever measures to turn a lead (i.e. a prospect) into a customer.

Often, the sale of products and services is not that simple: At the beginning, there is the setting of objectives and the elaboration of a strategy, followed by the implementation of the defined measures.

Marketing also takes care of targeted campaigns that increase awareness. As soon as this has been gained, the sales funnel can begin.

At the top, all prospects initially enter. In the course of time, many of them fall through the grid due to the various measures - only those leads remain that are actually qualitative and can become customers. The measures taken can be illustrated by the sales cycle.

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What are the peculiarities of the B2B sales cycle?

The B2B market is characterized by a sales cycle that often takes much longer than expected: It can last months or even years.

In the B2B area one usually deals with solutions and products, which on the one hand mean comparatively high costs, on the other hand also certain changes or adaptations of certain processes for a company.

In such a case, a procurement or purchase must first be discussed and decided internally, which is of course a completely different situation with direct end customers. In the B2B market, an entire buying center makes the decision - and that takes time and patience.

The sales cycle in B2B works along the customer journey: Attract, Engage, Convert, Delight. However, the individual phases also take much longer than in the sale of consumer goods to the end customer.

Customer Journey

Source: Customer Journey according to Aioma

Shorten the sales cycle with marketing automation

Smart marketing automation not only fills your sales funnel, but also increases the efficiency of individual processes. Automated workflows free up resources and offer your employees the opportunity to skip repetitive processes as they run automatically in the background.

Marketing automation is particularly important for B2B companies

Automation gives your employees more time to contact qualified leads that are ready to buy. Companies thus benefit from more qualified leads, smoothly running sales processes and, in particular, from B2B lead management that can be excellently scaled to individual circumstances.

Marketing Automation in the B2B environment

Lead generation and lead qualification through data-driven marketing in B2B. A study by Aioma and the Institute for Marketing Management at ZHAW.

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Knowing personas

One success factor that should not be underestimated on the way to a shortened sales cycle is knowing the buyer persona. Companies should be clear about the actions and messages with which they can most successfully address potential new customers.

Marketing automation plays a major role here as well: Information-rich profiles allow companies to know exactly which phase of the sales cycle a lead is currently in, what they are interested in and what information is important to them - including at what time and via which channel they can best be reached.

If you know your buyer persona, you can better understand your leads' interest and intentions.

It's easier for you to measure interactions and find out how often they look at newsletters or whether they click on links. Leads can be prioritized and evaluated excellently in this way: Unimportant contacts are filtered out from the outset, while qualified leads are further addressed with email marketing or other measures.

Create content

A common platform through which sales staff and customers can access all available data is enormously important for a functioning sales cycle.

However, this also requires close cooperation with marketing and the use of a powerful CMS (Content Management System), in which content can be uploaded quickly and at the right time.

This way, you make it a lot easier for B2B leads to get the information they need for their customer journey.

The company has the opportunity to lead the customer in the right direction and provide them with all the information they need to decide to make a purchase.

In this way, you can drastically shorten the sales cycle, provided that the content is built in such a way that it leads the customer through the sales funnel as if by itself and perceives the company more and more positively. Content should therefore be provided in advance for the entire customer journey and delivered at the right time.

Customer Journey Reporting

Source: Customer Journey Reporting from Aioma Software

Use touchpoints

Act where your customers are active: Social networks, blogs or even emails are a great way to get in touch with your leads and make them aware of important things.

Distribute your content where many people read it and also attract new people to you. If you use these touchpoints with the right content, you will quickly get a lot closer to your goal.

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Identify ready-to-buy contacts

Powerful marketing automation software helps you better filter your leads and more quickly identify when a contact is ready to be personally assisted by a sales representative.

If a marketing automation analysis shows that a lead is not interacting with you at all, is not responding to marketing measures, they can be filtered out directly.

Customer Profile

Source: Customer Profile from Aioma Software

On the other hand, those leads that click on links or seek further information are considered qualified and can be scored accordingly with an internally defined lead scoring.

Sales staff can see at a glance when a lead is ready for personal contact.

Targeted use of resources

By being able to filter out irrelevant leads in advance through targeted lead nurturing and lead scoring, your sales staff in B2B lead management are supported in focusing only on the important ones: they contact only those leads that are promising and therefore "hot" - while all others fall through the cracks.

As a result, resources are used much more efficiently by saving time and effort.

Conclusion

The B2B sales cycle can be tedious and require a lot of patience and time, however, the development of an individual marketing concept is worthwhile for every B2B company in the long term.

At the beginning of the Sales Cycle is the identification of leads: Getting to know your potential customers and what they want already makes a lot of things easier. You can better respond to their needs and provide them with the right information at the right time.

Lead nurturing and lead scoring are important measures on the way to a successful conversion. Nurture your leads by providing them with information that is important to them while building trust with the company. Lead scoring can then be used to score and filter out leads.

Marketing automation helps create free resources that your employees can use for important things: When workflows are set up and repetitive processes are automated, marketers and sales reps have more time to target qualified leads the right way.

The irrelevant leads that fall through the cracks don't make it to sales reps. They only process those contacts that have a chance of conversion - this is another reason why marketing automation is important for shortening the B2B sales cycle in the long term.