As business evolves, two things remain the same: sellers want to be more productive and B2B buyers want purchase experiences that help them solve their business challenges.
Sales has become increasingly digital-focused over the past few years with buyers and sellers adapting to digital-first sales models. Sellers who were accustomed to in-person meetings, business travel, and client dinners suddenly found themselves selling through a screen. The entire anatomy of the sales cycle has shifted and continues to evolve.
How has the sales cycle evolved?
The transition to digital-first selling has changed the dynamics of the modern sales cycle. In the past, sales reps relied on cold calls and emails to get in touch with prospects during the early stages of the sales cycle… Then, they built relationships with their buyers in-person. It wasn’t uncommon to meet a prospect for coffee or at the office to continue the conversation and buying process.That’s how trust was built.
Now, the digital sales cycle is more targeted and insights-driven. Sales reps have fewer opportunities to engage and build relationships with their prospects because they have access to so much information online. This means that sellers need to rely more heavily on LinkedIn for outreacht and to build relationships with buyers. Sales intelligence tools allow reps to learn more about prospects, what they’re interested in, and whether they’re ready to buy. This “homework,” or information gathering, allows reps to make the most of their first impressions with prospects.
A hybrid approach can also help and, when necessary, in-person engagement can be a difference maker. For everything in between, digital sales rooms help reps stay in touch with their prospects and share valuable content and resources throughout the sales cycle.
Different phases of the modern sales cycle
The goal here is to start a conversation with the buyer, understand their organization’s pain points, and assess whether your product or service is a right fit. A “lead” is an individual who has shown interest in your products or services by taking an action such as visiting your website, subscribing to your blog, downloading an eBook, or requesting a demo. The prospect is a qualified potential customer who matches your buyer persona. Qualified leads become prospects.
Two of the top ways to prospect include:
- LinkedIn: Sales reps increasingly use LinkedIn for prospecting. Native tools such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator allow sellers to find the right prospects and build relationships at scale. Sellers who actively post and participate in LinkedIn communities can also build their personal brands and establish themselves as thought leaders. As a result, they can begin to establish trust and credibility among leads.
“I try to spend an hour a day on LinkedIn. It keeps me in the know to see what’s going on with my buyers and their network. It lets me know what’s going on in technology—see what my buyers are posting and who’s active.”Sales Manager, Seismic
- Additional research: Sales reps can use data and tools to see who is in the market to buy and then prioritize them. By understanding a buyer’s needs based on LinkedIn interactions or discovery calls, sales reps can begin to personalize content to the buyer’s specific use case. Before a call with a prospect, sales reps should:
- Take a few minutes to take a look at the company’s website
- Research their organization and industry to better understand priorities and potential pain points
- Identify what sales and marketing content they’ve interacted with and use it to shape the conversation.
Outreach and buyer engagement
With this evolution in the sales cycle, buyers now have the option to engage digitally and in- person. You’re likely already familiar with the options, but here are some of our favorite methods:
- Online meetings: Online meetings allow reps to get valuable face-to-face time with customers and prospects without the added travel or time. Calls through Zoom or Microsoft Teams have become foundational to the digital sales cycle for a few reasons. For starters, they’re convenient but, more importantly, when a prospect sees your face, they are more likely to empathize with you and listen to you. Additionally, when you see their face, you can gauge their reactions and interests. This is particularly helpful to foster meaningful and authentic relationships rather than just being a voice or an email.
- In-person relationship building: Few things compare to the experience of meeting face-to-face and in person. Just as grabbing a coffee with a colleague is more personal than chatting briefly at the start of a Zoom call, the same goes for in-person client engagement. To build relationships with customers, sometimes you need more of a human touch to complement digital interactions.
When buyers consider your solution
After the early stages of buyer engagement, buying teams will begin to evaluate and consider different vendors and solutions. This step is crucial as a modern-day sale includes more stakeholders in the decision making process. It can be streamlined with:
- Buyer engagement tools: Once the connection has been made between a sales team and the appropriate stakeholders, the goal is to take a final look at truly qualifying their needs, and to make sure there’s a mutual fit for the prospect to become a happy customer. Buyer engagement tools help sellers speed up this process and deliver perfectly-timed content for each and every stakeholder.
- Digital sales rooms: With fewer in-person meetings, sales reps increasingly depend on digital sales rooms for day-to-day buyer engagement. Buyer engagement used to mean attaching a pitch deck or PDF to an email, but it’s difficult to effectively engage buyers when they’re searching their inbox or other channels to find content. Digital sales rooms allow buyers to have a user-friendly experience that they can return to throughout the sales cycle.
The decision process is not a one-and-done event. It’s an ongoing process that moves the interest from several different decision makers into action. It’s the intersection between your customer’s buying process and your internal sales process. As you qualify and work through your deals, there are two key parts of the decision-making process that are necessary to understand:
- The validation process: the buyer’s way of verifying that your solution will solve their highest priority requirements. That it will work as promised.
- The approval process: the sequence of events required to get contract signatures once the validation has taken place.
Buyers will take specific steps to evaluate and select a partner. It’s helpful to get familiar with these steps and how each decision maker in an opportunity plays a role in them.
Deliver captivating, engaging digital experiences with Seismic
Sellers should build relationships with customers with relevant and personalized content experiences throughout the modern sales cycle. With Seismic, you can capitalize on these trends and use sales acceleration to boost your sales team’s digital readiness with targeted sales content, training, and coaching. Seismic is the industry-leading sales enablement, and our software aligns and empowers go-to-market teams to deliver engaging buyer experiences that drive growth. Get a demo and see how we can help your organization succeed in the digital-first era.