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The Long Affair: Why Do B2B Sales Take So Long to Close?

Posted February 16, 2022

The Long Affair: Why Do B2B Sales Take So Long to Close?

Posted February 16, 2022

Smaller deals are easy to close because the buying group is small. However, the bigger tickets are a different game altogether. In a B2B enterprise’s buying group, there will be seven to eight decision-makers at different business levels. Each decision-maker is a stakeholder and you must address their concern or the problem to move the sales forward. This also brings another atypical B2B sales problem: timeline. You must chart out a schedule where you talk to all the stakeholders and address their concerns in a timely manner. There are many reasons big B2B sales take longer to close. However, in this blog, we will discuss two phases where marketers take the longest time to convert.

Phase 1: Discovering Clients’ Pain Points and Challenges

One of the areas where many marketers go wrong is the discovery phase. This is the phase where marketers need to understand the client inside-out. Marketers often, in the race to impress prospects, bombard them with features. This can overwhelm clients and, what is worse, clients might think that the marketer is only interested in making the sale, and not really in understanding and solving their problems. What marketers should do instead is try to get a good hold of the clients’ pain points and their expectations. Once you are crystal clear on that part, you can tailor your features/solutions for the client’s needs. Of course, different stakeholders will have different questions/objections when you offer your features/solutions. This is the stage when you dig down deep so that you understand the real problem of every stakeholder. This takes time. 

A few questions that marketers should ask in the discovery phase include:

  • What is the big picture that I need to know to help the client better?
  • What are the challenges of each decision-maker in the buying group?
  • What is the internal process of the enterprise to approve a big deal?
  • Have they approved a similar deal of this size before? How long did it take?

Marketers must gather all the answers to the above questions as they start prospecting the client in the discovery phase itself. Discovery is the phase to learn your client’s key problems and make sure you can solve them. All your dialogue with clients should be centered on this. Approach discovery as a required information gathering stage.

Phase 2: Navigating Internal Complexities of the Buying Group

B2B enterprise functions in different ways. The way ABC corporation functions might differ greatly from the way XYZ does. So, what has worked for ABC might not work for XYZ. 

In the discovery phase, you have found out who has decision-making powers in the enterprise and who they report to in the organization. Then you initiated the dialogue. In the navigation phase, the challenge is to sustain/nurture that dialogue. 

Nurturing can take an extremely long time; navigating between different stakeholders simultaneously, or nurturing and guiding them to move forward in the sales funnel. The buying group is spread across the organization, and it is not guaranteed they all will be operating as a well-oiled unit. In fact, if we go by our experience, many units in an organization still work in silos and it is always an uphill task to bring all the stakeholders to a common table. You need to continually reach out to all the stakeholders and keep the dialogue going by addressing concerns and problems relevant to them. 

Savvy marketers use what we call the multi-thread approach during this phase while navigating these internal complexities. This approach entails coming up with a specific use case for each stakeholder clearly identifying the benefits of your product. For instance, say you are selling an HRMS (Human Resource Management Solution) to an MNC. First, you would talk to HR and guide them on how your solution can help the enterprise create a connected workforce. You will show them how your HRMS covers all the different functions right from Manpower Planning to Compensation and Benefits, and from Employee Training to KPI Measurements. At the same time, you are talking to IT about how your HRMS is easy to deploy and you can migrate all the existing enterprise data with no downtime. By the time you pitch to C-Level, you have done all the legwork and secured the approval from most of the stakeholders.

Important questions that marketers should ask during the navigation phase:

  • How does the buying group operate as a unit in the enterprise?
  • Is each stakeholder convinced that my product/solution can solve their pain points?
  • Are there pending objections/concerns that I need to address here?
  • Is the deal moving in the right direction? Is it ahead or behind the schedule?

Marketers must evaluate all the stakeholders of a buying group and ensure that every concern is addressed. If they need more information, are you there to quickly resolve it? Are all the buying group’s stakeholders on the same page as far as your solution is concerned? Navigation is the phase when you have answered all these questions, thoroughly satisfied your client that your solution is the best choice, and solved their problems. All your interactions should inspire that confidence in the client. Approach navigation as a confidence-building measure.

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