B2B sales funnels are notoriously slow. Many purchases are big-ticket items that require plenty of research, meetings, budget requests and other steps that can make the process seem as speedy as a sloth making his way toward lunch (no matter how tasty).
According to statistics from Harvard University, it can take seven months or more to seal the deal with more than 25 percent of sales cycles.
But there are things you can do to improve sales funnel, especially so by making it easier for potential prospects to understand the benefits that your product or service has compared to the competition.
Be knowledgeable, be thorough with the information you gather about prospective prospects and the information you offer about your product or service and how it can benefit a business’s bottom line, and like the Boy Scouts, be prepared.
The rest should just come naturally.
Know Your Audience – And Yourself
- By having a clear vision of your audience (which you get by doing marketing research that delves into multiple marketing channels) you’ll know who they are and how they buy, so you’ll know exactly how to market to them.
- Know yourself as well. Having a clear, concise vision of your brand ensures that potential prospects know you, your values, your commitment to quality, so they can make an informed decision about your product or service.
- Create opportunities for building brand awareness whenever possible. Like a middle school dance, you’ve got to put yourself out there to have a chance at dancing with your dream date. Thinking in terms of clients, the more aware they are of your business, the more likely you will be part of their buying decision, meaning you’ll have a much better chance at getting that dance.
- Make sure your marketing efforts aren’t wasted by using data to determine what your potential prospects truly want and need. You might think you and one of your dream clients would make a perfect fit, but you won’t be sure until you explore what that client needs to improve their own business, and find a way to show them how you can provide it.
- Create a solid reputation for your brand – and help keep leads interested – by building a sense of trust between you and your leads.
- Engage potential leads by having a steady presence on a variety of different platforms including social media, blog posts and content marketing as well as through a website that offers an opportunity for them to truly get to know your brand.
- Focus on keywords in blogs in order to drive traffic to your site, and post blogs often. Daily blogs are more effective than blogs posted less often, because they create an opportunity for a steady flow of traffic.
- Target your marketing efforts. Knowing your audience and marketing to that smaller target will be more cost effective over time, and will also be more likely to turn leads into long-term customers.
- Sales and marketing need to work together for the most effective sales funnel. If the sales team is able to translate the needs of prospects to the marketing team, the marketing department can create personalized materials that will be more likely to turn prospects into qualified leads.
- Social media is a marketing goldmine, and using keywords and hashtags that stay true to your brand will engage those who are paying attention.
Generate interest with content and calls to action that work
- Knowing where your prospect is in the buying journey will help you successfully gauge interest, so your team can market appropriately.
- Use data to identify which prospects are ready to purchase your product or service and which ones need more information to make up their minds, and send appropriate content, infographics, or other marketing materials based on the data you’ve gathered.
- The best way to keep prospects interested is to send them content that’s relevant to their business as a way to showcase not only how your brand can help improve their business, but also to demonstrate an understanding of their needs.
- Make sure your marketing is on point to ensure that potential leads know your brand is an expert in your industry. Feed them information that shows that you’re in the know as a way to continue to establish trust.
- Once you’ve engaged your lead – they’ve opened an email, downloaded a whitepaper or otherwise shown interest – create a landing page that requires an email address or other company information before they have access to certain content. This helps you determine their level of interest.
- With the information you’ve been given, you can now personalize emails, establishing a deeper connection with your prospect, allowing you to guide them through the sales funnel more effectively.
- At this point, your prospect is engaged, and to ensure that they stay engaged you need to create a call to action within each platform you use to interact with them and continue to lure them in.
- To ensure daily content, write smaller blog posts that still offer valuable information, perhaps alluding to a coming “part two” to continue to keep them engaged.
- Use visuals – infographics and images help boost information retention significantly.
- Throughout the process, show your potential prospect that your product or service is something that’s vital to their business plan, without talking about affordability.
Know what your leads really want
- Understanding your prospect’s goal – are they looking to upgrade equipment or do a complete overhaul, for example – will help you understand the best way to show them how your product or service will fill their void. Develop content that falls in line with their need and follow up in a way that reinforces the benefits your company can provide.
- A prospect is more likely to make a purchase – especially a big-ticket item that they’ve spent months researching – if they know that the company from which they’re making the purchase has a long-term plan for their success. Show them how you will continue to be part of their successful business plan, even after the purchase is made, if they choose your product or service.
- At this point, begin to establish your prospect’s interest by creating more targeted calls to action that in turn feed you information that allows you to gauge his or her interest levels, determining where they are in the sales funnel.
- Help identify any concerns your prospect might have by showing exactly how your product or service will benefit them, whether it’s a financial benefit or a benefit that helps their business operate more efficiently.
- Provide content that addresses your prospect’s concerns by showing your company’s expertise through consistent content that showcases your knowledge.
- At this point, the sales department should determine which leads are the most serious about making a purchase so your marketing team can go into overdrive providing personalized content aimed at specific companies and company personnel that are most involved in making purchase decisions.
- Now is a good time to take stock of what’s working and what’s not when it comes to marketing, based on how far down the sales funnel potential leads get before you lose them. Use analytics to measure engagement with emails and social media, determine how prospects are reaching you and gathering information on demographics so you can hone your marketing materials to better match your audience.
Take stock of your audience’s level of engagement
- A successful marketing campaign – one that tells your brand’s story, reveals your brand’s values and showcases your brand’s knowledge and reputation in the industry – will help you reach more potential prospects. Evaluate what content helps draw leads in and what content doesn’t, and ditch what doesn’t work and is more likely to drive leads away.
- Bring the sales and marketing teams together so the sales team can offer information about what has been working, so the marketing team knows where to put the majority of its focus.
- Make sure your content marketing is on point – true to your brand, full of useful information that will benefit consumers. Content marketing plays a big role in B2B marketing – the majority of B2B businesses use it is some way – so ensuring that yours is focused, targeted and smart will be beneficial. Take stock regularly as a form of quality control.
- Meet regularly so you can follow your real-time results, something that’s important to maintain motivation across the board.
- Bring the ideas of all team members to the table to help generate more leads and keep your sales funnel full, no matter how specialized your industry is. Use a mix of inbound and outbound marketing to reach a broader audience.
- Don’t despair if you lose leads – even ones that felt like certain buyers. You can’t know what caused them to drop off. Perhaps budgetary issues put the entire buy on hold. Just continue to focus on ways to continually improve by bringing all team members into the process
- Remember that what worked yesterday might not work today. Technology is constantly evolving, and so are business needs. Your business and your sales and marketing teams need to evolve as well, so seek out new ways to generate creativity throughout the business so you continue to engage with existing prospects while attracting new buyers. Understand your goals, and make sure that everyone is one the same page regarding success.
- Set small, manageable goals. Just like a new weight loss or fitness regimen, working toward smaller performance improvements will be more inspiring, and will motivate your team to work harder to reach beyond those goals once they’ve been achieved successfully.
When it’s time to buy, play it cool
- Now that your consumer is ready to buy, think like a customer and don’t be too pushy. Give your potential prospect a soft sell, because one bad move can turn them off, and once they’ve rejected you, they’re never coming back.
- If your prospective lead has made it to the bottom of the sales funnel, make sure that your product or service is exactly what they’re looking for, so you can establish a long-term, lasting relationship. You want your consumer to come back the next time they need what it is you have to sell.
- Keep the used car salesman out of the sales process. Your prospect is ready to buy, so let them make the big moves. You play it cool and let them come to you.
- When making the close, continue to focus on why your product or service is the right one for your prospect, so they feel completely comfortable with their decision and know that you truly understand their business needs.
- To close in a smart way, make sure your buyer has no final questions regarding the buying process, and revisit the reasons why your product or service will be a genuinely valuable addition to your customer’s business.
- To ease any angst at the end of the deal, make sure your buyer understands that your company will be there for them throughout the life of the product or service. Then, make sure that happens. Providing stellar customer support (which happens by bringing everyone into the regular meetings so that all parts of the business are working together equally) will be key to bringing the buyer back, again and again.