If you sell to another business or enterprise you may be tempted to believe that you have a long sales cycle and that all your customer will be rational who will make a decision on price vs value. While there is some truth to your assumption but it is not entirely true.
I believe all sales are equally long and the decision-making process is almost the same regardless of if you’re B2C or B2B.
I know that’s a pretty big claim… but hear me out.
Think all the decision you have made whether it is to whether it is to buy food, get a toothbrush, get some medicine, see a doctor, make an investment, or even start a new business. It all starts out the same way
Cause and effect
To quote Matrix “I drunk too much wine and now I have to take a piss, cause, and effect…”
You feel hungry, you want to find some food to eat. You make a decision between going out to eat or cooking at home. You decided to go out to eat, you look up a good restaurant on Google, or Meitu (Chinese restaurant app), you go to the restaurant and order some food…
All decision process goes through the same cycle…
Then why do most B2B business feel that their sales cycle is much longer compared to a B2C business?
That’s a great question…
A good friend of mine once said told me that you can reasonably predict the amount of revenue that is going to come in from your sales pipeline provided it is real.
The problem with most B2B company is that they have a false pipeline yet they believe that they have a long sales cycle because they are looking the wrong part of the cycle.
They believe they’re in a sales cycle but in reality, they may be in their customer’s awareness or comparing stage of their marketing cycle.
So, in other words, B2B companies may have a longer marketing cycle but not a longer sales cycle. After all, marketing is pre-selling or pre-framing your potential clients.
Look at it this way…
The reason why people believe that B2C sales cycle is shorter because for most B2C products the awareness, educate, and engagement cycles are much shorter. When you decided to go some banana do you need an education on what they’re, how they can help your relief you’re hungry? No of course not, you already know that… And you probably already know where and what price you should ideally pay for what type of banana.
People buy transformation, not product or services. How a banana can transform your life is clear but with B2B many of the services and product are often intangible, and it is usually unclear to our customer that our service or product will result in the transformation that they’re looking for. More education is needed or more “nurturing” is needed.
Because as any good salesperson understands if you have an interested buyer, a unique solution that matches their problem and all objection is handle. The only possible next step would be to closed the deal provided that all decision-makers are present which brings up my second point.
Steve Jobs famously said on a D8 event
“With the enterprise market it’s not so simple, the people that use the products don’t decide for themselves, and the people that make those decisions are sometimes confused.”
It’s funny but true.
The second reason why B2B companies have a longer “marketing cycle” is because there are usually multiple decision makers with different values, objection and reasons for purchase. This is why it is not only crucial to educate your leads but also to segment them accordingly.
Selling your product or service to a CMO will be very different than selling to a CFO or CEO!
Of course, many B2B businesses have been aware of these problems for a long time but traditional creating advance marketing automation, education and nurturing processes are very expensive, difficult and usually a huge money sink.
B2B businesses simply don’t know how to keep their potential client’s content throughout their customer journey or marketing cycle.
But this has all change…
With technology and the ease of creating and publishing content on the internet, B2B businesses are now able to segment, nurture, indoctrinate and follow up with their potential clients using advanced marketing automation like never before.
In China, giants such as Microsoft China and Lenovo China has been using Wechat and other advanced marketing automation to lower their CPA and shorten their sales cycle.
Advance Marketing Automation in China and How to Leverage it To Build Up Your Real Sales Pipeline.
Both Microsoft China and Lenovo adapted their marketing approaches into current fast change market landscape of China. Going from a Cost Center Marketing vs Revenue Center Marketing.
Traditionally most B2B business starts with a marketing budget and then go spend it on various media, advertisement, and marketing campaign.
The logic goes like this.
CMO: If we don’t spend marketing dollars, we won’t get new business and we cannot grow.
John: But we don’t know how effective each channel is… aren’t we wasting a lot of money?
CMO: ya… but we have a budget to spend and it’s a cost we cannot afford not to spend.
John: Ok… so we just spending money for the sack of spending it?
CMO: Yep, you got it.
With an ROI or Revenue Center Marketing approach both Microsoft China and Lenovo are able to effectively integrated all resources of both online and offline to offer comprehensive connection which could be evaluated by visible KPI and ROI return along their full customer’s journey.
Here is how they did it…
Microsoft China: Gated Content to Wechat Automation
Microsoft China created useful and highly engaging content (white paper) as bait to attract potential clients in a selective market segment. These baits are then distributing through variously paid advertisement and offline events.
But in order to gain access to the white paper, the user will first need to subscribe to Microsoft China’s WeChat official account by providing basic information such as name and of course their Wechat account ID.
Once subscribed, using advanced automation software Microsoft China will prompt the user to register as a member for the privilege to gain access to more rich and better contents which include online live webinar, educational course, and podcasts.
Then using advanced machine learning the registered members are scored and segmented based on a few factors. How many contents they’ve consumed, how often do they engage with content, how long they watch a particular video, do they leave a comment, do they share contents, etc…
The higher a registered member score over a period of time the more likely they’re going to be interested in Microsoft China’s service and products. This is the same AI/Machine Learning concept that Google and Facebook use to server billions of dollars in the advertisement to the right market segment.
Once the users are tagged with a quality score and segmented based on their interest level of Microsoft China’s product or service. The higher scored users are then invited to offline meetings and demos.
At which point Microsoft China’s sales team will take over and follow up with these highly engaged, educated, nurtured and interested prospects. Now instead of talking to a cold and uneducated prospect, Microsoft China’s sales team will talk to an engaged and educated prospect. All of this is possible and automated with Beschannels advance automation system.
Lenovo: Online Webinar and Measuring Channel Effectiveness with Big Data
Like Microsoft, Lenovo uses content and variety of offline activities such as roadshow, training, and product demo to attract potential B2B prospects for a very long time. The problem they faced was that they’re not sure which event, campaign, or paid media channel were more effective and yield a better ROI. They knew they had a lower conversion rate but they don’t know how to fix.
To solve this problem, Lenovo had to add live broadcasting of their offline events, training, and actives, in order to transfer the users online, were marketing automation and better data collection is possible.
So now, if the potential prospect cannot attend the offline event for whatever reason, they are now able to watch and engage with the events through their computers, WeChat, and mobile phones.
Now because of these online broadcast, Lenovo is able to create a better experience for everyone that attended events, attract twice as much potential prospect than before, and follow up with lead nurturing automation.
On top of all that, now Lenovo can collect data on all their traffic(advertising, WeChat, email, etc.), which allow them to more accurately assess and understand the ROI generated by different channels.
The user channel source data can be clarified, and the channel effect can be evaluated so that the advertisement can be more accurately placed and marketing dollar can be more efficiently spent. Every week, they can see the effect of conversion from different channels, so they can adjust their media strategy quickly.
How You Can Use Advance Marketing Automation for Your B2B Business in China.
1 Start with Your Client Journey Mapping
You want to plan your whole China marketing automation process with the end in mind and work backward. Do you want to think about what is the ultimate end goal? Where do your sales process pickup? Is it a demo or a consultation?
How do you initially onboard your potential clients on to your automation system? Is it a white paper like Microsoft China or live event broadcasting like Lenovo.
After that think deeply about how you want to potential client to experience the journey with your brand in China. What objection you want you to need to handle and what education you need to provide in order to move them down the cycle.
2 Utilize Wechat For More Than Just Communication
Automation in China is different than pretty much the rest of the world. Email is not a big channel in China. With B2B it’s a little bit better but still not the best choice.
Wechat, however, is huge in China but most brand or B2B businesses use it as a content distribution channel and that’s it. What a waste!! Very few B2B businesses are aware of the advance marketing automation capability of Wechat.
Yes, we can help you nurture leads, segment your
3 Add Water To Your Wechat Automation System
Marketing automation and lead nurturing is only a system and if you don’t add water or fuel it won’t run. You’ll of course still need to advertise, use social marketing, KOL marketing, do SEO, website, or offline events to maximize they your lead acquisition so that they can be nurtured and segmented with your system.
4 Slowly Unveil your Potential Clients Information
One of the bad habits that most B2B business have is they often like to ask too much too quickly of their potential clients. They want to know everything from their business to their dog’s name on the first date!
Instead, learn from Microsoft China, and see how they’ve slowly unveiled their cold prospects information with a white paper and then membership registration one step at a time.
6 Educate, Segment and Nurture
Like Microsoft China and Lenovo, you’ll want to create various of content to engagement with cold leads and then turn them into hot leads who are ready to buy your product or services.
Segment your leads with different types of content and use
a scoring system to measure their interest level of your brand, product or
7. Convert and Maximize ROI
Ultimately, we’re on in it to move the bottom line and drive up revenue. There is no point in creating a sophisticated marketing automation machine you don’t have a way to convert cold prospects into royal paying customers. So, think about where your automation system ends and where your sales process begins!
BesChannels are experts and valued partnered with Simplify. They providing automatic marketing solution on Social Customer Relationship Management (SCRM) in China for B2B and B2C businesses.
BesChannels SCRM marketing automation has helped many famous brands such as Microsoft, SAP, Lenovo, and Unilever, to reach target their audiance via multi-touch points and automated customers acquisition.