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B2B Sales Cycle

How to master B2B lead nurturing in long sales cycles

If your company has noticed your B2B sales cycle increase significantly, you’re not alone. More than two-thirds of B2B buyers say the length of their purchase cycles has increased compared to a year ago. Long sales cycles are happening largely because the pandemic is causing business needs and priorities to change more frequently. Buyers are also taking more time to research products and services to be certain they’re making a wise decision.

What’s more, B2B buying doesn’t play out in any kind of predictable, linear order (PDF). It would be convenient for us sellers if buyers followed a neat line of succession on their customer journey, but in reality, they move around among buying “jobs” as Gartner® calls them—identifying problems, researching solutions, building requirements and finding vendors.

Now that buyers take longer to decide on you, you may need to reevaluate your B2B sales strategy—which includes taking more time to nurture buyers. Here are a few B2B lead nurturing ideas to help.

Idea 1: Give buyers confidence in themselves

It may come as a surprise to see the biggest driver of account growth isn’t customer satisfaction. Rather, B2B lead nurturing is about giving customers confidence in their ability to make good buying decisions—which drives 2.6 times the likelihood of a buyer accepting offers.

When a potential buyer is making a decision and considering which vendor to do business with, the three main areas where they need to feel confident that their decision will be sound include:

  1. The ability to anticipate necessary changes so the decision is right today and in the near future
  2. The ability to ask the right questions
  3. The ability to make the right choice

There’s a significant amount of information buyers face when they’re trying to decide on a purchase. Instead of giving more information, help simplify the information they already have and connect them to relevant resources. This approach is called “sense marketing” because you’re helping customers make sense of information. By guiding customers and showing evidence of what information is valid, you’ll keep them from analysis-paralysis and lead them to trust you. In one study, sales reps who took a sense making approach closed more high-quality, low-regret deals than those who added more information to the pile.

Idea #2: Realign your sales approach

Your B2B sales cycle should center on selling through serving. You can do this by realigning your sales approach to be empathetic toward customers. With strategies such as proactive listening, message personalization and tailored solutions, buyers will feel like you understand exactly how to solve their company’s problem.

In long sales cycles, you should also focus on providing high value. Depending on what you know about your customer, giving them true value may mean bundling your products or services in a package that feels tailored to them. If your primary offer doesn’t seem to be the best fit, you could cross-sell or up-sell an offer that better meets them where they’re at. No matter how you realign your sales approach, position your solution as the answer to their specific needs.

Idea #3: Focus on ROI

In our current climate, companies are taking a multi-disciplinary approach to buying decisions. That means decision makers may not all sit in the C-suite. A recent survey shows 68% of business leaders are engaging employees through team buying decisions. To win over these teams, you need to be more intentional, direct and repetitive about ROI. As Alyssa Merwin, LinkedIn’s Vice President of Sales said in a webinar, “The promise of great value is not cutting it. It is a hard-dollar ROI, not soft. As sellers, we are going to have to up our game.” 

As you face a longer B2B sales cycle, you’ll need to switch your focus from sales to being helpful—give customers confidence in themselves, realign your sales approach to be more empathetic and focus more on ROI. If you’re noticing a change in how your customers are buying and need help adapting, we can help strategize how to better communicate the value you offer. Complete the form below to get started.

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