The reasons for longer cycle lengths are many and include the fact that the number of stakeholders has increased. Further, reduced budgets mean tighter purse strings and an increased reticence to spend without complete due diligence.
The trend is not likely to abate in the current economic climate; so the challenge for B2B agencies and their clients is to develop strategies that can help shorten the process and speed the final sale.
B2B offerings tend to be complex and purchase decisions are rarely impulse driven; buyers usually spend a lot of time on upfront research. It’s important for companies to be a part of that information gathering process. Social networking tools offer exceptional avenues for knowledge sharing that can educate prospects and facilitate faster decisions. By providing this almost real-time, two-way communication, companies not only inform but also build trust and credibility that can work to complete sales in less time.
Achieving a shorter procurement cycle has a direct impact on the bottom line, of course; and there’s an additional advantage: a shorter cycle reduces the chances of things going awry during the process.
“Clients and marketing professionals have questioned the use of social platforms in B2B and rightly so,” notes Barlow. “With increasingly longer procurement cycles we are confronted with a substantial obstacle to profitability. It’s a challenge and one that social networking and integrated marketing can help resolve.
From the perspective of shortening the procurement cycle, social networking and marketing strategies can be used to:
• Enhance the prospect’s confidence in the company, in part, by establishing thought leadership and positively affecting preconceived notions;
• Position the product for easier acceptance by ‘preselling’
• Explain product benefits to each participant in terms they understand, citing only those benefits that are of interest to that stakeholder and made available on the platform each prefers;
• Standardise the sales force behind a consistent message.
Barlow continues: “In the current economic climate, there is nothing more critical to our clients’ success than helping to make each step of the sales/procurement process as efficient, smooth and, in a sense, as enjoyable as possible to all stakeholders. The narrative we tell each persona and the clearly personalised information we deliver comprise the essence of what’s been dubbed ‘the new marketing.’ Honestly, we believe it’s either adapt and prosper or… well… there’s really no other alternative, is there?”
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Vertical Marketing offers strategic marketing communications to B2B technology companies. If it's B2B and related to advanced manufacturing/
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Vertical Marketing is full service when clients need it or a helping hand when an opportunity arises. We're platform and media agnostic, preferring to take an intelligent, creative, strategic view… a 360 degree look at what’s available, what’s cost effective and what combination of tools works best… integrated to help our clients stand out and get noticed as market influencers and suppliers of superior solutions in any part of the world.