Lots of sales reps and marketers are crossing their fingers hoping for a strong end to the quarter. They have been pushing offers and content and communicating as often as they can – without turning off their prospects. Laments ring out: Why can’t anyone make a decision? What are they waiting for? Why won’t my B2B prospects call me back? You get the picture. We want the revenue and we want it right now!
Hank Barnes from Gartner wrote a really good article on this subject titled, Urgency and the Buying Process. Hank talked about four categories of urgency ranging from Buyer Acknowledged Urgency to Provider Forced Urgency (Artificial). Of the latter, he says, “This is the worst form of urgency. It occurs when providers create urgency through artificial deadlines. We are in the season of this where “end of year discounts” are prevalent. Artificial urgency, while it can spur deals, typically gets relationships off on the wrong foot, particularly if applied when there is limited other motivation for buying.”
Hank Barnes is right on target because sometimes the prospect is going to buy on their schedule and applying pressure will be counterproductive. However, there are a handful of steps you can take to make sure the revenue comes in as quickly as possible, without sacrificing margin or customer goodwill:
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- Provide all the information needed to make a decision. It is no coincidence that market leaders usually have lots of great stuff to read on their websites. In fact, the more information you provide, the shorter time you will likely spend with the prospect and the faster a decision will be made. It really is that simple.
- Create a sense of urgency. By this, I mean making an offer that is too good for your B2B prospects to pass up. Examples include:
- Limited time offer (special discount to purchase by a certain date).
- Low supplies (e.g. only a few left in stock).
- Unique or exclusive product.
- Extra gift for quick purchase.
- Show how many others are buying “right now”.
- Greed: This deal is too good to pass up.
- Keep your pipeline full. One of the best ways to deal with the urgency situation is to use content marketing to keep your pipeline full. This will smooth out the revenue bumps and help protect your margins. For more on this, read my recent CustomerThink article, How to Use Content Marketing to Keep Your Sales Pipeline Flowing.
- Offer relevant content at the consideration point in the buying cycle. Let’s say you are one of the potential choices at the time a prospect is ready to buy. You need to make sure you offer the right type of content to make your product or service the logical choice. Examples include customer reviews; case studies of happy users; references; pricing details; and economic justification, especially return on investment (ROI).
- Simplify your pricing. What I said above about presenting plenty of information does not apply to pricing. Too many options can paralyze the buying decision. Smart marketers have learned that buyers respond faster when you give them no more than three options and interestingly, they will most often pick the middle option. For example, if you have a good, better and best option, make the “better” flavor the most logical choice.
- Make it easy to buy. This one may sound obvious but the number of sales lost at the last minute is staggering. If you are making an online sale, the forms and steps need to be as simple as you can make them. The same is true for telephone and in-person sales. Work relentlessly to remove any friction points from the entire process.
- Understand your B2B prospect’s trigger points. Trigger points are compelling events that will cause your buyer to take action more quickly than normally. Examples include:
- For the CPA or tax lawyer: an audit.
- For the business attorney: a lawsuit.
- For the efficiency consultant: drop in critical productivity metrics.
- For the maintenance expert: breakdown in critical machinery.
- For the software company or IT consultant: loss of competitive advantage.
- For the recruiter: loss of an important employee.
- For the marketing consultant: sharp drop in revenue or lead numbers.
One final thought. Always set realistic expectations because the more you push someone to buy, the more likely they will rescind the purchase if the perception that the product or service quality is not in line with what you promised.