April 13, 2010


Every B2B marketer hopes to “shorten the sales cycle”

There are lots of ways to do it, and sales gurus earn hefty fees showing you how to streamline the process once the suspect becomes a prospect and enters the big, wide sales funnel. There’s lots to do to improve information transfer, or to be seen as a responsive collaborator. Consultative sales takes empathetic listening, for example, a fundamental skill that can be learned.

But let’s rewind the tape here, and go back to the funnel entrance. If you have used your hunter-gatherer skills (last century’s salesmanship) to reach this person, say after relentless cold calling, or direct mail, or by push messaging of various kinds, you began with a huge hurdle to overcome. You’re Selling something, and you have to overcome the resulting resistance if you hope to make the leap from salesperson to consultant. Can you do it and be credible? How much time and effort will it take?

There’s a better alternative. If that person entered the sales funnel by choice, willingly pursuing their needs, you’re no longer Selling, you’re facilitating. How much more credible are you? How much easier to be a trusted source when it’s their idea? How much shorter is the sales cycle?

Moral of the story? Take a chunk of that outbound-messaging budget and redirect it to become more findable. Then measure the ROI. Rinse and repeat.