With Terry Arnold, Vice President of Marketing, Real Impact
Everyone has a number to hit. After a challenging year of tight budgets and multiple reruns, many B2B marketing and sales teams want a jump in booking revenue for the year.
Don’t get me wrong – at True Influence, we firmly believe in a strategic approach to B2B revenue operations. So talking about quick wins might sound a bit illogical. But this is the real world. Some of your customers may have an unexpected budget they are looking to spend, and salespeople are always interested in earning that next commission or bonus.
Always returns to revenue.
Fortunately, if you’ve adopted account-based marketing (ABM) and other data-driven B2B selling and marketing strategies, you already have the account and market information you need to identify and accelerate promising sales opportunities. Now it’s just a matter of adjusting your offer and narrowing your focus to people who can make a relatively quick purchase call.
In this post, I will focus on the most promising sources for shortening the sales cycle, your existing customers, and first-party SQLs. In my next post, I’ll look at how marketing can find new, and perhaps unexpected, opportunities for a quick turnaround to start the new year.
Improving existing relationships with clients
Your existing customers are the best source for faster deals because you have an existing relationship with them. You know their buying patterns, and if your salespeople are at the helm, you should have a good idea of the state of their budget. You also understand the current barriers to completing the next transaction.
Here are some of the key tactics sales, customer success, and marketing can engage in today to shorten the sales cycle.
Ask clients what would make the biggest difference in making the leap in their results
Like I said earlier, everyone has a number to hit. The most compelling offer you can make to a customer is one that shows an immediate revenue or cost-saving effect – it’s really about the hang of fruits. This question is often handled by salespeople, but customer service and marketing can also collaborate on a quick email survey.
Just go ahead and ask if they have a budget
This may sound a little awkward, but if you have a healthy ongoing relationship with your customer, your salesperson should be able to tactfully ask about buying opportunities for the New Year. You should already know what kind of year the client had last year, which will help you explore current budget levels.
Sweeten the deal a little
There’s a balancing act here, sure. Put the offer as mutually beneficial, and as a way to prove the value of the extra spending for the year. What is the ideal method for…
Find smart ways to sell products
If you have existing customers that you’ve been pushing towards a new service level or related product, the beginning of the year is the perfect time to offer a three-month trial as a smart investment. Understandably, any discount you offer ends when you review the results of the trial, and if you keep your promises, you’ve expanded the customer relationship. I can tell you that we’ve had tremendous success with this approach to True Influence while getting clients to experiment with new data and pioneering software. Of course, we believe our products will prove their value quickly, so this is a big step for us. Perhaps you can find an opportunity to get a similar quick-earning experience in your special offers.
Bring in Big Guns
Don’t be afraid to ask C-Suite to help you close a deal if you decide that this opportunity exists. You don’t want to sound hopeless, but having an executive on the call can show that you view the deal, especially trying a new product or service, as a real long-term advance in your relationship, not just a way to book a few bucks.
Use intent data to find active influencers, and give them a bit of a heads up
This is where understanding your buying groups models and ABM strategies really pay off. If marketing can use intent data analysis to find key buy-in influencers who helped research previous purchases, it wouldn’t hurt to heat them up with some assets that boost sales of the “win now” message that drives them to the decision maker. We’re talking about quick readings with large, distinctive numbers that emphasize the bottom line.
Many of the tactics I just discussed for existing clients also generally apply to SQLs, with the notable exception that you don’t currently have a well-established relationship with clients. In a way, making deals with SQLs boils down to treating them a little more as a client rather than as a client. You want to dramatically shorten the sales cycle, and that means stepping up your approach and tailoring offers directly to the opportunity.
Focus on the best opportunities in your sales pipeline
Time and resources are short, so identify the most promising deals you’re currently working on for the first quarter of 2022 and speed them up. What is described as “promising” varies of course from company to company. A good touchstone is probably any deal that you think has a potential conversion rate of 50 percent or better is a good place to start.
Revisit stalled deals that looked like they might be ending
Review the last two quarters of 2021 and look for any promising opportunities that for some reason haven’t been converted (other than they’ve entered into a long-term deal with your competitors, of course). Reconnect with those contacts with an offer specifically designed to address why you didn’t close last time. Again, you don’t want to sound desperate, but now is the time to pitch the show where “we really want to work with you in the new year, so let’s get started now.”
Find accounts that display purchase search activity
One of the reasons why an eligible account has not been closed before may simply be that people are busy with other tasks. that happens. If it’s not already part of the sales process, work with marketing to assess purchase intent activity across the account and buying group, not just the individual contacts the sales team works with. Peter Larkin recently wrote about how different search patterns within an account can indicate willingness to buy. Find category search language and objective research that indicates the account is ready to buy – feature comparisons, pricing, and results. Prioritize these opportunities to ramp up sales, and perhaps a little extra support from marketing.
Target key decision makers with highly personalized content
With a shortened sales cycle, you need to focus most of your resources on the key decision maker who can sign a deal. So you should be in close contact with these contacts and give them very detailed content about why you are the best choice. Again, this basically boils down to raising offers of content that might otherwise be reserved for discounts on Zoom or a field call. It’s a little extra work, but it’s worth it.
Remind the whole buying group why you are the right choice
With SQL, the decision to work with your company is the real one, and that will require at least some collective consensus. Again, you can’t wait for the full purchase journey model and sponsorship programs to be implemented. So your best bet is to have marketing that shows target content assets to the entire buying group, even if the workflow says they may not be quite ready for it. Again, focus on the immediate, demonstrable return for your specific offer.
Your best chance, accelerator
The tips I discussed in this post are a great starting point for accelerating the best opportunities that are already in your sales pipeline. You see, the approach is basically in line with your current ABM practice – just move with more urgency and focus on contacts who can make quick purchase calls. In my next post, I’ll look at some of the ways you can quickly qualify your best marketing leads for sales, as well as find sales opportunities in places you’re not currently looking.