As the global marketplace faces a recession, B2B buying cycles are sluggish. We've seen delays in marketing budget approvals and budgets frozen at 2022 levels, which in turn is lengthening sales cycles and requiring marketers to pivot their strategies – yet again – to convince prospects to convert.
These elongated sales cycles put more pressure on marketers to keep potential customers engaged throughout the entire (drawn out) buying process. At the same time, simply increasing the number of touchpoints throughout the buyers' journey risks sounding out of touch with buyers’ needs, or worse, turning them off completely.
Instead, marketers need to adapt their nurture strategies to account for where buyers are, right now. Below are five steps to optimize marketing in light of these long sales cycles.
1) Revisit your personas. The challenges your buyers are facing and what's keeping them up at night may have done a full 180 in the last two years. As the pandemic raged, many tech buyers had to be nimble and quick to adjust to increased demand for digital transformation. Now, a new reality is setting in. Consumers are returning to pre-pandemic habits, and companies are taking a conservative approach in the face of recessionary fears. Updating your personas to address today's needs vs. yesterday's is the first step in adjusting to elongated sales cycles.
2) Make trying easier. With an already lengthened sales cycle, marketing teams should do everything they can to reduce friction in the process. One way to do this is by making it easier to try your tech solutions. From on-demand demos to free trials, buyers should be able to see your product in action. For tech companies already offering free trials, consider ways to simplify the process even further to draw prospects in faster, and make adoption immediate and sticky. For example, consider lengthening trial periods, removing credit card requirements and creating more educational content that shows them how to get the most out of your solutions.
3) Make buying easier. 72% of B2B buyers want the ability to purchase from ANY channel – and will look to competitors if they can't, according to McKinsey. The willingness of B2B buyers to use ecommerce is higher than many marketers give them credit for. In fact, most McKinsey respondents would spend $50K+ using self-service options, and 20% are willing to spend between $500,000 and $5 million. Now is the time to consider self-service commerce options if you haven't already, shortening the buying cycle by ensuring buyers can purchase the moment they are ready.
4) Revisit email nurtures, retargeting, sales plays, messaging, CTAs and more in light of steps 1-3. Updating your persona and easing barriers in the sales cycle won't provide benefit until you update your marketing messages to reflect these changes. Email, website and ad copy should reflect your personas’ current challenges. Similarly, CTAs should create a clear path to your new trying and buying processes.
5) Reflect and refine. None of these strategies will work optimally without continued measurement and ongoing refinement. But remember, in the face of lengthening sales cycles, the traditional period you used to measure success may also need to be lengthened. Revisit what you're measuring, when you are measuring and how you define success with today's macroeconomic factors in mind.
The B2B marketing funnel is changing yet again with recession concerns and buyer behavior trends. See how we helped one tech company adapt and optimize their funnel when they started noticing changing buying cycles.