If your IT company offers a product or service that’s relatively inexpensive, it’s possible that you don’t face much of a sales cycle. So the website visitors and leads you generate today might materialize into revenue within hours or days after first learning about your firm.
However, if you own or manage an IT solution provider business that targets SMB, mid-market, or enterprise clients, there’s a good chance that your sales cycle length is between weeks and months. In this post, we’ll look at how you can speed up the sales cycle and close sales faster.
At the most basic level, there are two steps:
- Segment your leads by both buyer persona and sales cycle stage
- Develop lead generation offers for each buyer persona and sales cycle stage
Segment Your Leads
In order to properly segment your leads, it’s important to understand personalization and the buyer’s journey.
Ten years ago, lazy website owners could get away with creating content that was one size fits most.
Today, there’s way too much competition for eyeballs. And because of selective consumption innovations on the B2C side (Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, Sirius, and TiVo, for example), your B2B decision makers now demand to get everything on their own terms, whenever they want.
With 57% of the typical B2B sales cycle now over before decision-makers contact any vendor, you can’t afford to fight the trend of the incredibly empowered and educated prospect. This person will, if he or she doesn’t find exactly what they want on your website, leave within seconds. Just one back button away from gone forever!
Segment Into Buyer Personas
By developing buyer personas – semi-fictional representations of your ideal buyers, you’ll go a long way toward creating remarkable content, your best prospects want to read.
So, some IT solution providers might develop a handful of buyer personas, such as one for Charlie CFO, Tom Techie, and Paula, Purchasing Manager.
When you’re trying to turn strangers into website visitors, visitors into leads, leads into clients, and clients into promoters, it’s critical that you have content available for each of these three kinds of ideal buyers. And as these visitors become leads in your database, you must be able to keep track of which leads are parts of which segment.
But segmenting by buyer personas isn’t enough if you truly want to accelerate the sales cycle.
Why? Because as leads navigate the buyer’s journey, they respond best to different kinds of content.
Segment By the Buyer’s Journey Sales Cycle Stage
Early in the awareness stage, potential clients want solutions to broad-based problems through downloadable guides, eBooks, reports, and templates.
As potential clients begin to understand their problems better, they compare different options through buyer guides, ROI calculators, case studies, and webinars in the consideration stage.
Towards the end of the buyer’s journey, in the decision-making stage, prospects will finally be ready for a one-on-one sales conversation through perhaps a consultation, demo, or needs assessment.
If you only offer a stranger a consultation on their first visit to your website, that’s like asking someone to get married on your first date. Sure, it’s a movie plot, but wouldn’t 90%+ % of rational people run for the hills?
The Net Impact of Three Personas and Three Sales Cycle Stages
So in this scenario, we’d end up with nine different segments, each needing its own list and content plan:
- Charlie CFO – Awareness Stage
- Charlie CFO – Consideration Stage
- Charlie CFO – Decision-Making Stage
- Tom Techie – Awareness Stage
- Tom Techie – Consideration Stage
- Tom Techie – Decision-Making Stage
- Paula Purchasing Manager – Awareness Stage
- Paula Purchasing Manager – Consideration Stage
- Paula Purchasing Manager – Decision-Making Stage
Develop Lead Generation Offers for Each Segment
For IT solution providers to succeed with lead generation and Inbound marketing, they have to combine content with context.
Let’s say you’re developing an in-house corporate training program on Office 365. In order for its marketing content to be successful, you need to know (a) who that content is for (Charlie CFO, Tom Techie, or Paula Purchasing Manager) and (b) where that person is in the buyer’s journey.
The CFO will likely have vastly different training needs and expectations than the techie/IT manager.
And suppose you offer someone a decision-making stage offer, such as a one-on-one demo. When it’s their first visit to your website, you’ll likely alienate most of your website visitors who may be an excellent fit but will not yet be ready to buy for weeks or months.
To succeed with lead generation and Inbound marketing, you must combine content with context. This means you’ll almost always need a different set of content -- blog posts, calls to action, landing pages, and premium content -- to appeal to the different kinds of buyer personas.
You’ll also need to be mindful that the larger the scope and monetary value of the purchase decision, the longer the buyer’s journey.
And generally, the best way to accelerate your prospects through the buyer’s journey is to create content offers that are relevant for (a) each buyer persona and (b) each stage of the buyer’s journey. Content plus context!
Who are your most important ideal buyers? And how do you get these potential clients through the buyer’s journey faster? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments box below.