When it comes to B2B products and services, the length of the sales process can be quite a challenge. To shorten sales cycles, is no easy task. Introducing innovative hardware or software that enables a new but more efficient approach requires time and effort to convince customers of the benefits.
Change, risk, and fear of making the wrong decision are all obstacles that businesses face when making a new purchase. As the company offering the product, it’s your job to help them overcome those issues. Building those relationships and educating customers can take weeks and even months in complex situations.
With that in mind, it’s worth utilizing the best tools available to you in order to decrease the amount of time between the initial approach and the sale. The option we have in mind will not only accomplish that but will also increase the number of times customers say “yes.” Using content strategically can have a huge impact on the sales cycle.
As with any brilliant idea, it sounds great, but needs some thought and a planned approach. So it’s time to answer some critical questions:
- How can we shorten sales cycles?
- What do we mean by “content?”
- How do we use content strategically to have the most significant impact?
B2B Sales Cycles
There are several challenges in the sales cycle. First, you’ll want to work on new B2B sales leads by reaching out to potential customers or those who’ve expressed an interest. However, it’s the next four steps of the process that can be particularly time-consuming and crucial to the conversion of a lead into a closed deal.
The next stages are discovery, qualification, pitch, and addressing concerns. You’ll be getting to know your potential customer, having your first conversation with them to see if you can progress, and then providing them with the information about the product or service.
If you’ve got a qualified lead and they come back to you after the pitch with objections or queries, you’ll want to be in the best place possible to convince them and close the deal. There’s one key aspect that can reduce the time each of these stages takes, and that can make it more likely for you to close the deal. When you educate your stakeholders and potential clients, you offer them value and get them on the same page as you.
One of the key takeaways of this post is that using content to close deals doesn’t mean constructing adverts and infomercials about your product or service. When we talk about educating stakeholders, we mean providing informative videos, blogs, and infographics that look at challenges, changes in the industry, or new technology that could benefit a company.
It’s useful to know how to start a blog and how to use it to your advantage. However, the content needs to be part of a strategy to be effective. It requires you to reflect on who your customers are, what concerns they might have, and what they don’t understand about your product or service.
A Proactive Strategy
Instead of waiting for potential leads to come back to you with objections or concerns, you can prepare the way for your customers to appreciate your product and understand how it links to their success. You can do this by creating tailored content that provides value.
In your strategy, you’ll have pieces of content that will explain more about what you do. However, that will also be accompanied by blog posts that address broader issues, comment on current trends, and take an objective look at the problem and their solutions in the tech industry.
This content will reach your potential clients to better prepare them for your pitch. You can also send it at strategic points in the sales cycle to speed up the education process. If the content already exists, is clearly set out, and has authority, then you’ll shorten the sales cycle considerably.
The Power of Content
Creating consistently-valuable content requires time, effort, and some know-how. For a company to invest in this way, they’d have to be pretty confident that the strategy was going to pay off in the long term.
Fortunately, the method has been tried and tested. Let’s take a look at what options when it comes to content and how successful they can be.
Types of Content
You might already be producing content but not making the most of it. We’re talking about events. They aren’t traditional and can be expensive. However, this form of content provides direct interaction with immediate responses. It’s an excellent opportunity to create a memorable experience and educate your customers. Events can also help you make more content, as you can produce images, videos, and write about them to recap.
Blogs are one of the most popular ways to create and deliver content. You’ll need some knowledge and the ability to write, but it can certainly pay off by keeping your website fresh, which will help search rankings. Before starting one, it’s worth knowing what to expect from a business blog.
Other popular forms of content include videos, as the visual element can work well on other platforms and appeal to diverse audiences. You might also consider providing valuable information directly to your contacts through newsletters or breaking down technical data and statistics into infographics.
How to Justify the Approach
When you launch any new strategy or approach, you’ll want a way to judge the efficacy and look at the return on investment. Measuring content marketing engagement can be harder to define but isn’t impossible. You might need to undertake some surveys and evaluation to recognize whether your boost in sales is a result of your content strategy.
Evidence of how content marketing benefits businesses already exists, though. Sometimes it can be easier to compare several approaches and see who’s getting the most success. For example, companies with a blog get 55% more website visitors compared to those that don’t.
In this case, it’s clear to see that increasing website visits can encourage more leads and increase the volume of qualified leads. If the information in the blog provides value, then it’s likely that this increase in traffic will be followed by more sales.
Making Content an Asset Not a Burden
By this stage, you’re coming around to the benefits of content such as blogs, and you can see how they’ll shorten sales cycles. However, as with any new prospect, there’s a right way to go about things to mitigate risk and not waste time.
Staff time taken up producing content could quickly become a burden without the right approach and strategy. Fear not; we’ve got three key tips to make content production an asset in your B2B marketing strategy.
Know Your Audience
You can deal with two issues at the same time here and use your discovery phase as a proactive part of your strategy. Gain insight into your customers, so you know who you are producing content for and why.
There are a few critical elements to look out for, including adapting your writing style to fit the audience and understanding their problems so you know what to address. You can gain this insight from existing customers as well as prospective market segments.
Value and Authority
For content to be an asset, it needs to have value, and you, as the author, need to have authority. You can ensure these attributes through quality writing, research, technical expertise in content marketing, and consistent posting.
If you have good materials to start with, don’t be afraid to look into updating old content. Instead of deleting posts that are no longer current, consider building on their existing authority but refreshing them to add new value.
Guidance and Expertise
To achieve audience understanding, quality writing, and technical expertise, you might need to look outside of your company. One of the main risks of content marketing is not knowing where to begin and not making it an effective part of your strategy.
Working with a partner that has a proven track record in this area can significantly increase your chance of success. An expert partner can work with your team to get a blog started, improve the writing style, or provide the initial research needed to understand your audience and set a tone of authority.
Valuable Content Shortens Sales Cycles
Content that has authority and valuable information can educate your customers at several stages of the sales cycle. Think of blogs as preparing the ground for approaches, creating qualified leads and potential clients that are ready and willing to hear your pitch.