You're probably well aware of the lengthy sales cycles commonplace in industries like real estate and automotive. But, with the continued proliferation of information-hungry consumers, long sales cycles are no longer restricted to the usual suspects.
Consumers in all industries are encouraged to seek out every piece of information available. They need to ensure that they're getting the best deal or the best product for their specific need. With countless reviews, guides, and material available at your fingertips, why wouldn't you take the time to do a bit of Internet research? At least that's the rational to quell consumers' FOMO on information.
Expediting The "New Normal" Sales Cycle Duration
Businesses can either accept these lengthy sales cycles as the new normal, or they can work with the consumer to accelerate the process. The marketing industry is no stranger to paradigm focus shifts, from the selling focus of the 1950s and 1960s, to the "customer orientation" of the more recent decades, to the shift we're seeing today.
We're now all on a new frontier of information availability and accessibility. Business must realize this fundamental shift in order to survive in the evolving landscape. There are four keys to begin the evolution in your own business.
1. Align marketing and sales teams.
Gone are the days of marketing and sales teams existing in silos. Your marketing and sales teams must cohabitate in complete harmony. The sales team should feel nothing but transparency from the marketing folks, and viceversa. There needs to be constant communication between the marketing team with those on the front lines of customer interaction.
2. Pre-target your email lists via social media.
Using Pay Per Click advertisements is a widely used tactic to shorten sales cycles. But that space is crowded with competitors. The solution is to stay top-of-mind to consumers through different channels. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all offer custom audience targeting through email lists you already possess. As long as your list reaches a minimum threshold, you can use it to serve your consumers with reminders about your brand on a platform they already frequent.
3. Create content for each phase of the buying cycle.
I mentioned earlier that the consumer is now amassing hoards of information through her own research. The way that your business becomes one of her trusted sources of information is to create content for each phase of the buying cycle. At every phase the consumer passes through, she asks herself, and subsequently search engines, social media, etc., different questions. By working closely with your experienced sales team, you can begin to identify these questions and answer them. After all, buyers have already made 57 percent of their purchasing decision before they even contact a supplier. When you create specialized content for the consumer at every phase, you become a relevant, and even trusted, information outlet.
4. Utilize email marketing for email communication.
A 2015 study by Smart Insights and TFM&A revealed that for both B2B and B2C marketers, email communication was still the best tool for improving customer communications and increasing loyalty. Email gives you the perfect channel to serve your customer specialized content for their specific point in the sales cycle. Even small-scale email marketing services like MailChimp and Constant Contact offer insights to your email lists that will help you identify unique qualities of customers inside your business's funnel.
The new powerful consumer is nothing for businesses to fear. It's simply the latest shift in the marketing industry, which is bound to separate the business that adapt from those that remain stagnant.