Managing The Hidden Sales Cycle

The Buyer's Process

Courtesy Ardath Albee

When it comes to product and services selection, buyers today are much better informed than they were 10 years ago. Social networks, peer groups, company websites and industry analysts all arm prospects with more than enough data to help them through the research and evaluation phases of the buy cycle. As they enter the formal phase of the buy cycle buyers usually know the problem they are trying to solve, the solutions available to solve the problem, and a good idea of the cost of the solution.

This means that when your sales team engages with a qualified prospect they may be well into the research and decision phase of the project.

If you own the marketing function this trend means that identifying and doing initial qualification is no longer enough. You must find ways to engage with the prospect earlier in the buy cycle and find ways to out-educate your competition while the hidden sales cycle is underway.  Content-based marketing is what best in class companies are investing in to ensure they are engaging with buyers during the hidden part of the sales cycle.  It’s no longer about selling it’s about educating.

In a recent Aberdeen Group report 58% of marketing executives indicated they were improving marketing content creation and only 6% indicated that marketing content was not on their agenda. This trend also shows how critical communication and alignment with sales has become. Developing meaningful content is time consuming and many companies fail in producing the right materials because they don’t fully understand the commitment in terms of time and money.  The same report suggested that best-in-class companies have well articulated sales processes that have been agreed to between the groups.  Additionally, 86% of best in class companies said that the relationship between sales and marketing was either good or strong!

Consider implementing a content-based marketing program so you are not disadvantaged when buyers enter the formal phases of the buy cycle. Our next post will dive more deeply into content marketing best practices and the results you can expect from the investment.