How Marketing Can Help When B-To-B Sales Cycles Start To Extend


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Do you refer to it as the funnel, pipeline or forecast? I suppose that depends on the sales methodology your company follows. At the end of the day though, every closed “opportunity” started at the beginning of your sales cycle and then moved through a progression of stages before the order was signed. Right now you probably have several opportunities stalled due to the economy, and your sales force is asking for help to keep some of those sales motions in play. In the mist of bankruptcy and budget cuts, is there a magical marketing silver bullet you can fire to fill your sales funnel with qualified prospects that won’t stall? Not really, but there are some steps marketing can take that are helpful when b-to-b sales cycles start to extend.

1. Get Your Marketing Budget in Order: Take inventory of your entire marketing budget. Then take steps to ensure your spend is directed toward activities that are in alignment with your sales process. Work closely with your sales organization to make sure marketing is supporting activities that will move important revenue producing motions (like proposals focused on your most valuable / profitable customers) forward.

2. Check Your Targeting and Segmentation Strategy: Take a step back and decide if you are going after the right prospects and customers. Look beyond the usual segmentation data by leveraging the new social media networking sites – and then pull don’t push. That is, leverage social media to listen carefully, and then engage rather than push one-sided messages out the door. Customer engagement is also one of the first steps to restoring customer confidence and trust.

3. Stay Relevant to Help Your Sales Reps Stand Out: Help your sales reps stay on top of developments in your industry and make sure they have timely content-rich material that your prospects and customers find valuable in relation to their current business environment and needs. That means your usual mix of white papers – that may really be product brochures disguised under timely titles – need to go through some serious revisions.

Alan See
Alan See is Principal and Chief Marketing Officer of CMO Temps, LLC. He is the American Marketing Association Marketer of the Year for Content Marketing and recognized as one of the "Top 50 Most Influential CMO's on Social Media" by Forbes. Alan is an active blogger and frequent presenter on topics that help organizations develop marketing strategies and sales initiatives to power profitable growth. Alan holds BBA and MBA degrees from Abilene Christian University.


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