By Jennifer Nagy, President of JLNPR Inc.
Every company’s ultimate goal is financial success (a.k.a. profitability) but many find it difficult to maintain, especially when their business model is based on one-off purchases. Another difficulty in consistently achieving financial profitability is the length of a company’s sales cycle. If a company has an average sales cycle that lasts months or even years, it can create long earning gaps in between clients. As such, a company with a shorter sales cycle is more likely to achieve financial success and be able to maintain it consistently over the long-term.
So how can a B2B business shorten their sales cycle?
Educate potential customers
The first step in the customer buying cycle is ‘need recognition’, in which the potential customer decides that they need to find a solution to address a specific problem that they are experiencing. Although some customers might already know about the solution that exists, most potential customers will have little to no knowledge about the variety of options available to them. Without proper understanding of the need that the offering fulfills and the specific benefits that a property can expect to achieve using the product or service, closing the sale will be next to impossible.
This is your opportunity to educate potential clients about the issue (that your company’s solution solves), including why it happens, how it can be prevented, possible solutions that will eliminate the issue, etc. Keep in mind that this is not the time to sell your product or service specifically; instead, provide a high-level overview of the issue and the available solutions on the market. By being the company who provides educational, unbiased information about ALL of the possible solutions, a potential client is more likely to trust your company – and therefore, is more likely to select you as their service provider.
Increase brand awareness
Brand awareness is a key component of a successful sales strategy. Once a customer has determined that they have a need, they will first consider any companies that they know of that provide the necessary product or service (before undertaking research into the other companies offering similar services). Of course, that means that if your company has good brand awareness with decision-makers at hotels, you will receive more warm leads (a.k.a. opportunities to sell).
As well as increasing the number of leads that your company receives, a potential customer’s prior knowledge of the company will be advantageous during the final decision-making process. Most potential customers value a company with a strong reputation and a familiar product/service more greatly, than an unknown company. As such, potential clients who already have a strong understanding and knowledge of your brand and your product/services are more likely to choose to purchase from your company.
Build credibility in the industry
That being said, it is important that potential customers have a favorable impression of your company. By continuing to provide a high-quality product or service to every customer, publicizing your company’s good news (i.e. growth, new customers who sign-up to use the product, sharing positive testimonials and current customer results, etc.) and executing a strong brand awareness campaign, your B2B company will be able to positively influence the credibility that your company has in the minds’ of potential customers.
So, how do I go about implementing the above?
Public relations (PR) and content marketing are the most effective marketing tactics available to educate potential customers, grow brand awareness and build credibility within the industry. Using PR, a company pitches stories and information to journalists about their company, product or service, in an attempt to secure editorial coverage. For example, a B2B company that has created a brand new RMS could contact trade journalists to let them know about the new operational trend that the RMS will create in the industry (because the tech will completely change how hotels execute revenue management going forward).
Content marketing is a marketing tactic in which a company creates and distributes educational, engaging content (i.e. articles, blog posts, etc.) with the purpose of driving action (in this case, either enquiring about or purchasing a company’s product or service). This content can be shared via a variety of mediums, such as on the company blog, through social media, in email newsletters sent out to the company’s marketing list, reprinted in notable online trade publications, etc. With content marketing, the more people who read the content, the greater the credibility and brand awareness that the company will create in the minds’ of potential customers.
Ideally, the two tactics should be implemented on an ongoing basis using consistent messaging to ensure a significant increase in the company’s credibility with potential customers and increase brand and product awareness, which will result in a shorter sales cycle, more leads and eventually, greater revenue.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org at any time and I’d be happy to share ideas, answer questions and provide advice on the best way to get started.