The B2B sales cycle, particularly for enterprises, is extensive—often lasting from six months to over a year. That can be difficult both for marketers and for sales professionals who want to guide buyers every step of the way—feeding them necessary information, fending off any doubts, and keeping the competition at bay.
B2B buyers spend only 5-6% of their total decision-making time with a sales rep. It's not sustainable, advisable, or even possible to have continuous contact with decision-makers—especially true toward the very end of the sales cycle, otherwise known as the evaluation stage.
It's during evaluation, as the internal team tries to access whom it wants to work with or which provider to purchase from, that potential buyers often go radio silent. The timeline could be anywhere from three to six weeks—or longer. The buyer has all the information from potential vendors, and the stakeholders are making their own assessments.
It's during that particular phase in the sales cycle that the marketing team feels helpless. They've done all they can—or so they think—to assist with closing the deal; it's up to the buyer committee now.
But that's where marketers are mistaken.
There is an extraordinarily effective solution to the avoidable "waiting game" many of us in the B2B world are all too familiar with. It involves two critical areas: account-based marketing (ABM)and sales enablement.
Here's how to use ABM to continuously support Sales and further influence decision-makers at the tail-end of the buying process.
Employ hyper-personalized account-based marketing tactics
The first thing to remember about the end of the buying process is that Marketing's job is far from over, even if both the statement of work and the proposal are in the potential client's hands.
Using one-to-one account-based marketing tactics can be particularly powerful. Even if you weren't using ABM before, the last part of the purchase process is the perfect time to scale down to a one-to-one level.
The buying team might not be looking for (or might not want) another email from your sales team, but its members will be online. A display ad campaign created specifically to address team members' main concerns and keep your company top of mind can be executed with minimal marketing effort.
Ad copy and graphic design personalized for a particular account can transform a tepid reception into an "I want to work with them or purchase their service" realization. It just requires a bit of effort and targeting skill.
If you have greater bandwidth and the right sources, one-to-one landing pages can also be created to provide one final pre-decision touchpoint between buyer and seller.
Keep the sales team excited
When Sales becomes, and remains, excited about a prospect, traction will increase. And that isn't just a morale or "feel good" sentiment. If Sales can sustain its energy, wins and overall revenue are the result.
But, more often than not, it's easy for Sales to move its priorities to the next prospect that's at the evaluation stage. If the decision is out of the team's hands, why not move on to the next potential close?
Instead, Marketing can use ABM to keep Sales's momentum going, even while waiting on a buyer's final decision.
With this tactic, internal alignment is paramount. Whether it's a dedicated Slack channel for account updates or a weekly meeting, Marketing has to maintain regular communication with Sales regarding buying committee movement.
If a particular opportunity has revisited the website, that information must be given to Sales so the team is reminded that the prospect is still interested, and definitely still engaged. If Marketing sees that the CMO of a potential client—one who requested an additional week to make a final decision—has downloaded a particular buyer's guide, Sales knows to be prepared to answer any one-off questions.
The B2B sales process is a marathon that marketers fuel throughout—all the way to the finish line—with data and analytics.
Focus on upsell, cross-sell, and future opportunities
A buying committee that doesn't choose your product or solution—particularly if you're one of the final choices—should not be forgotten. The opposite is true, in fact.
Sales may be a bit demoralized after "losing" an opportunity so far in the game, but by enlisting account-based marketing tactics, you can set up your company for future opportunities with that account and those in similar positions.
That's not to say you should empty your advertising budget on an account you just lost. ROI would tank. Instead, Sales and Marketing should work together to adjust assets and strategies based on data and feedback from the sales process. They can then take that information to set new goals, which may involve upsell or cross-sell opportunities down the line.
Every client or potential client interaction is a chance to glean information for updating additional ABM campaigns: There is no failure in account-based marketing, unless you remain stagnant or give up.
More Resources on Account-Based Marketing Tactics
Creating Personalized Account-Based Marketing Programs | MarketingProfs Training Course
Two Great Tactics That Work Great Together, B2B Social Selling and ABM: LinkedIn's Ty Heath on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]
Enterprise ABM: Five Common Pitfalls and Tactics to Avoid Them
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