Subscribe
PLANT

Marketing: Don’t sell yourself short

If your salespeople focus strictly on prospects ready to buy within 90 days you’re missing out on 66% to 78% of the total selling opportunities.


August 8, 2011
by Andrew Shedden

In a perfect world your marketing department would do an excellent job of qualifying inquiries and your sales leads would say, “Yes please, could I have it tomorrow?” But only 2% to 3% of any market is ready to buy now.

Five years ago many buyers had three- to six-month buying cycles. In today’s marketplace buying cycles are getting longer. To reduce risk, some are creating buying committees or teams with multiple decision makers. Others are adding new steps to their purchasing process to mitigate risk. Both strategies add time to the buying cycle.

Many marketing experts agree most qualified sales leads will turn into purchases within 12 months. The marketing “Rule of 45” reveals average purchases will be concluded at the following rates: 10% to 15% in three months; 26% in six months; and 45% in 12 months. If your salespeople focus strictly on prospects ready to buy within 90 days you’re missing out on 66% to 78% of the total selling opportunities.

Creating a lead development system that offers your buyers useful educational information for up to 12 months from the time of your initial contact ensures you’ll get a significant share of that 45%. Here are some tips:

• Use a series of targeted communications to promote timely and relevant content that assists buyers with purchasing decisions. These communications are typically tip-sheets, reports, white papers, blogs, e-mails, webinars and podcasts.

• Most buying cycles follow predictable stages. Aligning your lead development content with them resets the buying criteria in your marketplace.

• During the early stages of the buying cycle, provide content that encourages buyers to reconsider the status quo. Don’t deliver sales pitches about your company: show customers how to deal with their issues and pain, using examples of others who are solving similar problems. Use market data and industry trends to enhance your credibility. And provide a checklist that facilitates the decision making process.

• As the cycle progresses, provide buyers with case studies and testimonials that demonstrate how others have benefited by choosing your company.

Patient lead development will reduce buyer fear of making a purchasing decision and with any luck, shorten those longer sales cycles.

Andrew Shedden is the president of Broadfield Communications, an industrial marketing consulting firm. Call (800) 353-4447. Visit www.broadfieldcommunications.com/plant.htm for the Seven Steps to Manufacturing Profits special report.