Does your business involve a long sales cycle? You know, where months will pass from the initial contact to the closing of a sale? Or do your transaction come fast and furious? This post will speak to the former because marketing for the long sales cycle requires a different approach and a supportive tactical plan.
We live in an era where online reviews from strangers on your business carry enormous weight in the buying decision. As a result, experts must position themselves better to compare with their larger competitors. Larger companies have a team to create all sorts of inbound marketing, in particular content creation. They use this content to position themselves as thought leaders in their arena. It is beneficial for businesses with long sales cycles, as they have already stood out before being contacted. Below, we will show you how to develop SMB marketing for the long sales cycle.
What Is a Long Sales Cycle?
In short, the sales cycle is the time it takes for a buyer to think about buying something to making the buy decision. Imagine you walk into a clothes store, where you find an item you like. Next, you try it on. And if you want it and can justify the price, you buy it. The whole process took 10 minutes. This 10-minute sales cycle is the opposite of a long sales cycle. A long sales cycle generally takes from weeks to months. We’ve even worked with companies where the sales cycle takes years.
Factors that can draw out the duration of a sales transaction include:
• A significant level of investment (AKA a high price tag)
• Bureaucracy in the final decision making
• A complicated or difficult to understand product or service
• A service that requires detailed analysis to craft an accurate scope of work
Of course, it all varies by industry. For example, 30 to 60 minutes might be considered a typical sales cycle to a small store owner. But have you ever enjoyed that when shopping at an automobile dealership? And a PEO can require six months and longer to get to yes. A long sales cycle may be uncommon, but the businesses that face them need a consultative sales approach and marketing to prop up those efforts.
A long sales cycle often involves developing a relationship and building rapport with prospective clients. Of course, building rapport is essential to any long-term relationship, but it can help you garner great reviews and create more referrals when correctly done.
“Make a customer, not a sale.” – Katherine Barchetti
Content Marketing for Long Sales Cycles
You must understand your target customer before there is even contact between you. They are looking for something to eliminate the pain they are suffering and realize it will take a long time to buy. Therefore, they are going to research long before they buy. So, how can you be intro-duced to them during this research period?
Quality, authoritative content is a significant aspect of that part of the cycle. This sort of lead nurturing gives your readers information about your products or services. It lets them know in advance who you are and what you do. And when done in a credible and sustained manner will establish you as a leader in your space. Successful people instinctively want to work with other successful people, which goes beyond internal teammates to include solution providers.
The ultimate goal of your content marketing campaigns is to provide useful information that en-courages visitors to take the next step in the sales cycle. To keep the reader on that journey there are reinforcements you might consider, including encouraging the reader to:
- Sign up for your newsletter.
- Follow you on social media.
- Contact you for a quote.
- Attend one of your events.
- Subscribe to your blog.
- Request a case study.
All of these tactics will instinctively place your brand at the top of their mind. So guess what will happen when they are ready to buy from a business like yours?
In any business involving a long sales cycle, content marketing should be an area of high priority focus for your business as part of any lead nurturing campaign.
How to Configure Your Content Marketing
A key aspect to providing authoritative information is to be unique, educational, and backed by sources. For example, case studies are a great way to show authority for your goods or services. Long sales cycle decision-makers are no doubt looking for just this kind of information to let them know what to expect, especially when it comes to their ROI. Plus, depending on the choice of media, case studies are easily shared throughout an organization.
Your content should use a strategized mix showcasing your service while being educational. There’s no use in going on and on about what you do if you don’t have the results to show it. Your content should also demonstrate in detail how your business can solve problems quickly and effectively.
Get Help With Inbound Marketing for the Long Sales Cycle
My usual POV is to remind you of the importance of building thought leadership and showing expertise before, during, and after the sale. Content marketing providers that and more. It’s also worth mentioning that a campaign weighted toward content marketing allows you to combine search, branding, and conversion using a common workflow.
Small to mid-sized businesses lacked the financial resources to execute a content marketing campaign effectively. On the other hand, large corporations with internal marketing departments have enjoyed great success with content marketing. With blogging, email, and social platforms, that hindrance is no longer a barrier to content marketing.
Luckily, some great companies are available for this type of marketing that will allow you to maximize your content marketing. Feel free to contact Zen Marketing for help developing this and other marketing strategies.
Learn More About Content Marketing
We offer a simple to follow guide will help any small business owner better understand some very important “hows” and “whys” of using content to stimulate more business through improved client acquisition. The free guide is in a 9×7″ booklet format and will arrive within one week, by US Postal Service.
A limited quantity is available, so request yours now.