The B2B Buying Cycle – Approaching Prospects Right Time, Right Content.
Do you recognise the buying cycle? How well do you approach prospects? What are the issues that can trip up any business? Is there an approach that can mitigate these circumstances? What are the challenges that are faced by companies with complicated sales cycles, long purchasing lead-times and complex conversion processes? How realistic is it to think prospects can be moved through a buying cycle?
A “sharing” culture
The two twin pinch points for CRM are volume and discipline. Successful CRM implementation is dependent on a number of key factors. Firstly, a realistic volume of prospects and clients that can be tracked. Secondly, a recognition that clients belong to the business as a whole. Thirdly, a performance and remuneration structure that encourages a “sharing” culture. The objective is to add value to each client and to understand their customer journey.
The challenge is to recognise a cycle and for prospects to move through the cycle in a manageable timeframe.
An effective CRM will create visibility across the business. Effective lead generation will achieve sales faster with greater margin. All based on the ability to take timely tactical actions. These, in turn will maintain contact and build influence with prospects throughout the cycle.
However, everything starts with an effective diagnostic is key. Our weapon of choice is Sonar – with the big difference being it is an intelligent automation service. At all times the enemy is the loss of a prospect invisibly.
The business that is lost without you even knowing.
Approaching Prospects – Known:
Much is spoken of Awareness – Raising Awareness – in marketing circles but it is the start of the journey not the end. So the business must be visible on the platforms of choice of your client, not yours. The marketing tools in the kitbag may be digital, print, exhibitions – above and below the line. This may be social media, advertising, PR or partnerships.
As ever – “go where your prospects are”.
Within an always-on world, Sonar is an always-on marketing engine. Its role is to constantly monitor business contacts and prospects, their journey through the buying cycle, monitoring activity tailored to each business.
Approaching Prospects – Heard:
Added value is still the watchword for marketing as relationships develop. How can your business add value to your client’s business? Firstly, through the use of more in-depth media. Secondly, through a more detailed message through video, email, face-to-face, blogs or advertorial.
Consequently, this is the point at which developing customer relationships become “hungry”.
Hungry for time and content.
The role for Sonar is to add value by differentiating those who are ready to buy and those who are just looking. It can provide a points-based process that defines each of the buying cycle stages and the position of every prospect.
Approaching Prospects – Connected:
Potential clients are now comparing and the relationship is at its most fragile. With anywhere between 57% and 90% of product or service purchase research (Linked In) being done ahead of any direct contact the opportunity to lose the prospect is never nearer. However, the opportunity is also there to extend the relationship into larger scale content. Through committing more time and the development and availability of more sophisticated tools. But the chance is also there to lose any prospect.
Furthermore, this can happen because of a perceived lack of connection, content relevance or lack of appreciation. Risk is increased as the relationship develops and demands more in-depth content – white papers, information, face to face commitment and longer conversations.
Time, or lack of time is the danger. Prospects are unable to appreciate the full value of what could be available and cannot move beyond where they are.
The boundary between Connected and Trusted is the boundary of highest risk. Moving from Connected to Trusted means more detailed proposals and the development of costs, specifications and specific timelines.
Trust is all. Responsibility is all.
The two remaining stages are the most valuable. Where comparisons are no longer made and where the relationships become invaluable and no longer subject to review.
Proof is the point here. Delivering without fail and moving your client through to advocacy seamlessly and with considerable joint benefits. Delivery is paramount to maintain progress through the cycle. Success is now dependent on a broader set of relationships across the organisation. They may no longer be handled by an individual but must be managed through teams and effective account management.
Approaching Prospects – Invaluable:
Is the final stage where both parties gain from two-way processes; where trust is a given, where support and development are mutual.
The difficulty, as ever, is recognizing where each of your clients may be in the buying cycle.
How fast they are clients crossing the various stages ? Where can additional support bring benefits to help achieve advocacy quicker yet still be built on effective foundations?
Here there may be a return to the media from “Known” but with client and prospect adopting a joint approach.
“Invaluable” clients may post and communicate on your behalf. They may provide online and offline testimonials in campaigns and digital communications. In doing so they provide a gilt-edged endorsement of your business showing new prospects what they could hope to achieve.
In this context it is the always-on, customizable nature of Sonar that can make the difference.
We Can Help – Beach Marketing
If you want to make waves in your own sector, then please get in touch. Eight thousand projects in twelve years means we’re experts when it comes to B2B marketing. Our main aim is to provide creative, intuitive and innovative marketing solutions for your business, which is why our services include lead generation, website development, content creation and much, much more.
To find out more, contact us today. You can find us at our Northampton Head Office at The East Wing, Burlington House, Wellingborough Road, Northampton NN1 4EU, call us on 01604 239 837 or email us at [email protected].