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The B2B sales cycle, especially for companies, is extensive – it often lasts between six months and over a year. This can be difficult for both marketers and sales professionals who want to guide buyers every step of the way – providing them with the information they need, warding off doubts, and keeping the competition at bay.
B2B buyers only spend 5-6% of their total decision-making time with a sales rep. Continuous contact with decision-makers is not sustainable, advisable or even possible – especially towards the end of the sales cycle, the so-called evaluation phase.
During the evaluation, when the internal team tries to find out who they want to work with or which vendor they want to buy from, potential buyers often fall silent on the radio. The schedule can be anywhere from three to six weeks – or longer. The buyer has all the information from potential sellers and the stakeholders make their own assessments.
At this particular stage of the sales cycle, the marketing team feels helpless. They did everything in their power – or at least they think so – to help close the deal; it is now up to the buyer’s commission.
But marketers are wrong here.
There is an extremely effective solution to the avoidable “waiting game” that many of us in the B2B world are all too familiar with. It encompasses two critical areas: Account-based Marketing (ABM) and Sales Enablement.
How to use ABM to continuously support sales and further influence decision makers at the end of the buying process.
Use hyper-personalized account-based marketing tactics
The first thing to keep in mind at the end of the buying process is that the marketing task is far from over, even if both the specification and the offer are in the hands of the potential customer.
Using one-to-one account-based marketing tactics can be especially powerful. Even if you haven’t used ABM before, the final part of the buying process is the perfect time to scale up to one on one.
The purchasing team may not be looking for (or wanting) more email from your sales team, but their members are online. A display advertising campaign specifically designed to address the key concerns of team members and keep your company in view can be carried out with minimal marketing efforts.
Copywriting and graphic design personalized for a specific account can turn a balmy reception into an “I want to work with you or buy your service” implementation. It just takes a little effort and focus.
With more bandwidth and the right sources, one-to-one landing pages can also be created to create a final touchpoint between buyer and seller.
Keep the sales team happy
If sales are and remain excited about a prospect, traction will increase. And that’s not just a moral or a “feeling of wellbeing”. If sales can keep their energy going, profits and total revenue are the result.
But in most cases, it’s easy for sales to shift their priorities to the next prospect who is in the evaluation phase. If the decision is not in the team’s hands, why not move on to the next potential deal?
Instead, marketing can use ABM to keep sales moving even while waiting for a buyer’s final decision.
With this tactic, internal alignment is paramount. Whether it’s a dedicated Slack channel for account updates or a weekly meeting, marketing needs to communicate with sales on a regular basis via the movement of the purchasing committee.
When a particular opportunity has revisited the site, this information needs to be shared with sales so the team is reminded that the prospect is still interested and definitely still engaged. When marketing finds that a prospect’s CMO – one who has asked for an extra week to make a final decision – has downloaded a particular buying guide, sales know they’re ready to answer individual questions.
The B2B sales process is a marathon that marketers drive to the finish line with data and analytics.
Focus on up- and cross-selling and future opportunities
A purchasing committee that doesn’t choose your product or solution – especially if you are one of the final decisions – should not be forgotten. The opposite is the case.
Selling may be a little demoralized having “lost” an opportunity in the game so far, but using account-based marketing tactics can position your business for future opportunities with that account and those in similar positions.
That doesn’t mean you should dump your advertising budget into an account that you just lost. ROI would fuel. Instead, sales and marketing should work together to adjust assets and strategies based on data and feedback from the sales process. You can then use this information to set new goals, which may include up- or cross-sell opportunities across the board.
Every customer or potential customer interaction is a chance to gather information for updating additional ABM campaigns: there is no mistake with account-based marketing unless you stop or give up.
More resources on account-based marketing tactics
Creating Personalized Account-Based Marketing Programs | MarketingProfs training course
Two great tactics that work great together, B2B Social Selling and ABM: Ty Heath of LinkedIn on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]
Enterprise ABM: Five Common Pitfalls and Tactics to Avoid Them