Every B2B marketer worth his salt knows what a sales funnel means. It’s a fancy word that refers to the process of guiding customers towards making a purchase. What could possibly be harder than that?
Well, leading a prospect towards a purchase is nothing like a healthy stroll through the local park. And it sure is nothing like convincing your uncle to buy you the latest game console for Christmas. Indeed, B2B companies will need to focus more on keeping their pipelines productive. After all, revenue generation depends on a whole lot on how you engage your clients throughout their journey.
For IT companies, engagement is the world. In an industry that’s chock-full of technical jargon, building bridges is crucial to growth, and IT enterprises regardless of size will have to maintain better engagements with their audience. There’s no doubt that doing so involves addressing the most crucial aspects of one’s pipeline.
From bad leads to building trust, IT companies are certainly in a pinch when it comes down to maintaining a healthy funnel. But perhaps the most important issue that these companies will have to address is creating a well-defined sales process.
The ideal structure
Apparently, there are no standards in creating an ideal sales cycle. Different organizations have their own ideas of what their sales process looks like. The number of stages also vary, depending on the strategy that a company employs.
What’s important to consider is for organizations to define their processes well. The number of stages customers will go through before purchasing a product or service provides minimal value. Instead, more emphasis should be put on how you identify what happens in each stage.
Writing for HubSpot, Taylor Burke was able to outline the five essential stages in a B2B sales process. She likens it to talent shows where contestants will have to undergo several levels before they are qualified for the last stage.
First stage: Awareness
For Burke, companies will have to promote their products and services first before they can accept potential customers into their pipelines. Like the contestants of America’s Got Talent, potential IT clients should be aware of your offers first. This will get them to engage you, thereby kickstarting their journey down the pipeline.
Second stage: Maintaining interest
The reason why reality talent shows are loved by many is mainly because of the drama that unfolds during a contestant’s journey. It’s actually the challenges and tribulations that encourage the contestant to become better as he ventures deeper down the path. Viewers of the X-Factor can relate to the battles that their favorite contestants are going through. It makes for great TV and also an important reminder for you to connect with your clients. Focus on their needs, and they will be focused on purchasing an offer.
Third stage: Creating a proposal
Now comes perhaps the trickiest part of a buyer’s journey: The proposal. When you’re selling an enterprise software product to a decision-maker, presentation is an important element.Winning a contract requires a compelling message that would push a prospect to keep listening. For this, you may need to brush up on how best to prepare for a business presentation with a prospect. For good measure, make sure to keep your proposals free from exclusive mumbo-jumbo. Get straight to the point!
Fourth stage: Negotiate
When you feel like you have won over a client to your side using your proposal, don’t think that a purchase is inevitable. Even if you have made a stellar presentation for a decision-maker, you still need to flex your negotiation skills. In other words, don’t assume that a CFO or an IT operations manager will buy your product no questions asked. But the thing is, you still need to qualify a lead if it is purchase-ready. Burke suggests determining certain pain points and addressing other crucial concerns.
Fifth stage: Follow-up
Right when a prospect makes a purchase, make sure that the resulting partnership will last in the long term. With that being said, it is crucial to be wary of the client’s needs. As Burke points it, “circumstances and needs change” and its imperative that you solicit feedback from the client. Reviews and testimonials can help you improve your service and stay at the top of your game.
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