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B2B Sales Cycle - Length, Stages & Process - A comprehensive Guide for Sales Teams in 2022

Salesken

Table of Contents

Sales Management

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Aug 18, 2022

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3 Mins Read

B2B Sales Cycle - Length, Stages & Process - A comprehensive Guide for Sales Teams in 2022

A B2B sales cycle is specifically designed to assist sales teams throughout the prolonged B2B sales process. It is scalable and includes appropriate instructions that prospects can use from the prospecting stage to the conversion stage. 

This guide will extensively describe the B2B sales process and its different stages to help the Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) close more deals. It also includes some of the success factors to drive the sales process. 

What is the B2B Sales Cycle? 

A sales cycle is the combination of all stages that a sales rep must follow to convert a prospect into a customer. Businesses that follow sales cycles closely can:

  • Identify and take sales actions at the earliest 
  • Evaluate sales performance and conducting a competitive assessment based on industry standards 
  • Detect the areas of improvement and taking measures accordingly 

The ultimate goal of any B2B sales team is to close more sales deals. Mapping up a sales process is the first step toward fulfilling that goal. A B2B sales process is a complex process that takes part between two businesses and requires complete collaboration from both sides to make it successful. 

Why do Sales Teams need a B2B Sales Cycle? 

Sales reps are often caught explaining how they enjoy the freedom associated with their jobs. They find it compelling how they can connect with new prospects over cold calls and convince them with their strong persuasion skills. However, one of the proven ways to win sales deals is by deriving actionable insights from B2B sales datasets and developing a personalized sales process. 

Here’s why sales teams need a dedicated B2B sales process to succeed: 

  • A targeted sales process helps the new sales reps maintain a rigid workflow and quickly learn the organization’s sales framework. 
  • Instead of maintaining a long B2B sales process, breaking it down into shorter stages helps the sales managers to quickly identify blockers and take immediate actions to resolve the issues. 
  • Establishing a structured sales cycle will eliminate ambiguities and ensure that the reps don’t overlook any essential steps. 
  • A sales process can help the sales managers achieve 100% visibility of the sales process. As a result, managers and VPs can plan their sales strategies accordingly. 

Steps of a B2B Sales Cycle - Things you must Know 

The length of a sales cycle depends on multiple factors. Usually, it is a time-consuming process as multiple decision-makers are involved. However, the most common stages of a sales process are as follows: 

Steps_of_B2B_Sales_Cycle

Step 1: Prospecting and lead generation 

A sales cycle starts with prospecting. The prospecting stage is all about identifying the potential customers who are currently at the evaluation stage of their buyer’s journey and are likely to find your commercial offer interesting. 

Some of the major channels that help B2B sales reps in the prospecting process include: 

  • A strong LinkedIn community. With a user base of 810 million, LinkedIn is one of the best sources for reaching out to potential B2B decision-makers.  
  • Consistent efforts into inbound and organic marketing activities can help businesses generate new leads. 
  • Attending professional events and interacting with the founders and entrepreneurs face-to-face 

The above steps can help sales professionals to identify ideal leads and ensure that the very first contact can be established through: 

  • Cold calls 
  • Emails 
  • Social media communication 

Step 2: Research 

Knowing a product closely is essential for every B2B sales rep. However, to influence a buyer’s journey, sales reps must know the prospect’s business and their challenges. In fact, the difference between a good SDR and a great SDR lies in their level of research about the prospect. 

The next stage in the sales process is in-depth prospect research. Here are some tips to capture more information about the prospects: 

  • Start your research with the prospect’s website. Scroll through their blogs, whitepapers, datasheets, news articles, and other available resources. This type of information can provide enough content to build a rapport in the discovery calls. 
  • A sales rep should consume a lot of content regarding the prospect’s industry. Subscribe to industry newsletters and go through blogs and LinkedIn posts for the same industry to identify the industry's latest trends and pain points. These will help the sales reps build a reputation of an expert and winning prospects’ trust will be simpler.  
  • Reach out to some of the central decision-makers of the prospective customer through LinkedIn/Twitter. You can develop an idea of their requirements by checking their latest activities. Their posts, comments on others’ posts, and the content pieces they share can provide the reps a lot of clarity on how to approach the prospect. 

Step 3: Lead qualification 

An unaltered principle in B2B sales is - Make your sales process need-driven, not product-driven. Hence, it is very important to identify prospects’ needs and match them with your product to understand whether or not your product can solve their problems. 

With thorough research, sales reps can develop a fundamental idea about the prospects. However, they need to ask questions to know their pain points more efficiently. A set of thought-provoking, open-ended questions can help the reps gain more clarity and establish prospects’ reliability over your brand. 

Here are a few questions to ask to accelerate the lead qualification process: 

  • Are you looking for an alternative vendor? 
  • What are the challenges that you are facing with your current vendor? 
  • What goals do you want to achieve in the current financial sector? 
  • What blockers do you want to remove to fulfill your goals? 

Step 4: Crafting the sales pitch 

Crafting_the_sales_pitch

After the lead qualification stage, a sales rep will have a clear idea of the prospect’s intent, struggles, and how their product can help the prospects. Hence, in this sales cycle stage, reps should focus on crafting a tailored pitch. 

Crafting a perfect sales pitch has its share of challenges. The pitch decides whether or not a prospect would proceed with a company. A good pitch should be brief, informative, and must consist of all your research insights. 

Here are some quick tips to craft an effective B2B sales pitch

  • Try to build curiosity with your pitch. Instead of over-explaining your product/service, leave it to the prospect to follow up with their questions.  
  • A pitch is not the compilation of all product features. Instead, sales reps should focus on how the product can solve the potential buyer’s problem and what results they can achieve through this product. 

Step 5: Handling objections 

A prospect can raise objections for multiple reasons like pricing, requesting additional features, queries about value addition, and so on. A B2B sales rep needs to address these objections with a positive approach and convert these objections into motivations to buy the product. 

For example, if a prospect objects to the product's high price, remind them about the numerous benefits associated with it. 

However, that’s not it. In B2B sales, it is very common to face recurring objections from prospects throughout the buyer’s journey. Hence, sales managers and VPs should make the SDRs aware of these challenges and include the correct approaches to resolve these in their sales playbook. 

Step 6: Closing the deal 

Closing_the_deal

Closing is the most exciting and the most difficult stage in the sales cycle. By now, a prospect has clearly communicated the value of the product and addressed their objections and the only step left is to sign the contract and close the deal. 

However, the closing stage is difficult because not all deals that reach this stage convert into closing. A research by Salesforce shows that only 28% of sales reps understand customers’ challenges and are more likely to close a deal. Therefore, the significance of customer-driven sales holds true in this stage too. 

Sometimes, the reps need to negotiate pricing even in the closing stage. Providing the prospects with some free value like - a free trial for 14 days, free user guides, etc. can help in closing the deal. 

Step 7: Follow-up 

Follow_up
48% of sales professionals don’t make a single follow-up attempt, resulting in lost sales opportunities. So what if you had a successful sales call and closed the deal? Following up still matters and leaves a good impression.

Generally, after a sales call, reps should send the next steps, a recording of the conversation, and other useful resources over a follow-up mail. This nice gesture leaves the room open for more upsell and cross-sell opportunities. 

3 Major Success Factors that Drive a B2B Sales Cycle

Success_factors_that_drive_a_b2b_sales_cycle

A sales cycle is difficult to set up and even more challenging to execute! Here is a list of success factors to keep in mind to accelerate the B2B sales cycle for your brand: 

1. Use the right set of tools 

Using the right set of sales tools can make a difference in your sales cycle. A tool that we found useful is - Salesken. It can help B2B organizations set up their sales cycle from scratch. Some of the core features of this tool include: 

  • Salesken helps the reps through real-time cues during a sales call. These live prompts help sales personnel better understand customers' needs and personalize their pitch accordingly. 
  • Salesken can integrate with all your video conferencing tools. It comes with built-in recording and note-taking systems. Hence, summarizing a call and drawing insights have become extremely easy. 
  • Salesken’s powerful post-call analytics tool provides the reps with a comprehensive overview of the highs and lows of the call. This helps them know the prospects inside out and improves their performance in the long run. 

Want to explore further? Book a demo today! 

2. Form a dedicated sales team 

Forming an efficient sales team plays a critical role in the B2B sales process. A passionate and experienced sales manager must lead the team and encourage the reps to stay motivated throughout. 

Also, it is important to assign the right person for the right responsibilities. For example, a person who enjoys interacting with others will be perfect for making cold calls and reaching out to the audience. Alternatively, a person with well-written communication skills can write outbound emails and messages for the team. 

Additionally, a sales team should also have a dedicated coach who trains the new reps and helps them adapt to the company's sales processes. 

3. Map your buyer’s journey 

A major success factor for a successful B2B sales process is to map the user’s journey. While most sales teams put efforts into creating and publishing content and launching ad campaigns, they often miss out on placing these assets in the appropriate channels to gain maximum visibility from the user. 

The key here is to differentiate between entry-level and ready-to-convert users and segment your content accordingly. As soon as you segment your target audience and their position in the buyer’s journey, it will be easier to run successful campaigns and convert more users. 

For each sales campaign, there should be: 

  • An in-depth psychological breakdown of the target users and their needs. 
  • Dedicated keyword research comprising long-tail and specific keywords for each user segment. 
  • Targeted content that addresses the pain points of the customers and boosts conversion. 

Mapping the user journey can help accelerate the buyer’s journey and helps you simplify the conversion process. 

Final words 

There are different business users all over the internet, looking for the ideal products that can resolve their challenges. A sales rep’s job is to bridge the gap between the target users and the organization’s offerings. A great way to address this gap is by setting up a personalized sales cycle. It may be a time-consuming process, but it makes a lot of difference when planned correctly.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is a B2B sales cycle?

The length of a B2B sales cycle depends on many things like the product you are selling, the prospect company, no. of stakeholders involved, and so on. Though there is no specific length, a study by CSO insights points out that three-quarters of B2B sales take a minimum of 4 months to complete.

What are the 7 stages of a B2B sales cycle?

The seven stages of a sales process are: 

  • Lead generation
  • Research 
  • Qualification 
  • Pitch 
  • Objections 
  • Closing 
  • Follow-up 
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