What the next 30 minutes look like for B2B salespeople

Why would I want to speak to a salesperson? If I’m interested in buying a product, then I’ll contact them, if I need to, and when I’m ready…which won’t be in the next half hour.

The figures tell the same story. According to MarketingSherpa, 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to sales and only 27% of those are qualified anyway.

The customer’s approach shouldn’t come as a surprise. If you’re going to spend a sizeable amount on a product, then you’ll want to research it first and you can do that in a number of different ways at a time that suits you.

In the B2B space, where buying cycles can be lengthy and complex, the waiting game is bad news for sales teams. How do you plan when the customer researches independently and has all the control? The good news is that there are ways to engage buyers earlier and avoid timelines like this:

9.40 am: Get ready to call your prospect ‘Jane’. Read Jane’s CRM notes. She looks like a promising lead. She fits the profile for your product

9.48 am: Call Jane. She contacted, and bought from, one of your competitors last month. Update CRM.

9.50 am: Next up is ‘John’. He sounds genuinely interested and even started talking about how it’d help his future work, but he “can’t talk right now… could you call back in about 20 minutes?”

9.55am: You sure can. You update your CRM with what John said and set a reminder to call him back.

9.57am: Read up on the next lead. Call them. Not interested. Call ends.

10.00am: Next call. Not interested right now. “Could you send an email with the information in?”

10.09am: Hope John’s back. Phone rings. No reply.

Rinse, lather, repeat until 5.30pm.

Changing the sales timeline

It’s frustrating because the leads sometimes fit your buyer persona but aren’t exactly ‘leads’. Some are, like John in the example above, but a lot of time is wasted pursuing those that are still researching their options and not ready to make a decision.

There are planning strategies to ensure that sales can focus on the ‘sales-ready’ leads and engage with the likes of Jane earlier when she’s still exploring her buying options.

It takes some courageous thinking to laser focus on targeting, to distil and articulate attention-grabbing USPs and to work systematically in the planning process. However, it’s a discipline that pays dividends.

On 26th February, we’re hosting a Strategic Customer Acquisition Breakfast for marketing directors with guest speaker Bob Apollo of Inflexion-Point, on how to come up with that plan.

It’ll cover:

  • The key foundations of effective market and customer focus
  • The essential elements of a scalable customer acquisition system
  • Building messaging, positioning and content based on customer insights

Update: That event has now taken place – download our Strategic Customer Acquisition Guide for more insight into finding and qualifying B2B sales leads