Over the last few years, several environmental and external factors have affected the sales pipeline. Companies are seeing prolonged sales cycles, with consumers spending more time exploring and evaluating their purchase journey. Between a global pandemic, inflation, recessions, and more, it makes sense that people are stopping to re-evaluate how they spend their hard-earned money. But we can also see how this trend can make companies hit that big, red “panic!” button.
If you’re noticing that your pipeline seems to decrease month over month, you’re not alone. In fact, 50% of companies have seen a drop in existing and potential revenue. Lower lead generation doesn’t mean that your efforts aren’t working, and it definitely doesn’t mean you should slash your marketing budget.Prospects ghosting you? Pipeline dry? Sales cycle taking longer? Never fear-this is actually a GREAT time for you! Click To Tweet
It means exactly the opposite. According to the second annual B2B Marketing Survey from Appetite Creative Solutions, a creative technology company, B2B marketing is considered an important new business driver that helps deliver sales and e-commerce success and creates a strong brand identity. As your competitors pull back to save marketing dollars, acting on fear of an impending recession, you have the perfect opportunity to increase your market share and become the go-to brand in your industry.
Additionally, 46% of sales professionals say most of their time is spent lead prospecting, and prospects now need 27 touch points before making a purchase, up from 17 in 2019. The brands with the most visibility can make touchpoints more quickly, closing sales and owning the highest share of the market.
Not quite sold yet? Look no further than yours truly, Zen Media.
We were founded in 2008, during the height of one of the worst economic downturns in U.S. history. Unlike other companies that shut down or scaled back their efforts and goals, Zen was just getting started. We grew 400% during that first year.
So what’s the secret to confidently growing in economic uncertainty? Doubling down on what you know works: building trust, meeting your consumers where they are, and getting comfortable playing the long game when it comes to customer conversions.
Related reading: How to Win at Marketing During a Recession
Continue Building Trust
We’ve established that economic insecurity makes buyers warier—hence the increase in necessary touchpoints. But what exactly is the benefit of all those touchpoints? The ability to build trust. Actually, one study found that 88% of B2B buyers say they prioritize trustworthiness and will only buy from a salesperson they trust. Companies can build trust by becoming more visible to their consumers. Increasing visibility by creating and maintaining strong brand identity across various channels will naturally increase your company’s credibility, therefore building authority in your industry. And when buyers believe you are an authority, they spend their money with you.
Strong marketing helps companies build trust and establish connections with their audience. When you show potential consumers your products and services, the impact they make, and the experience existing customers have with you, you build trust. Additionally, positioning executives in your company as thought leaders in your industry or partnering with respected influencers to promote your brand builds credibility in the eyes of your consumers.
Another way for B2B companies to build trust with consumers is to insist on better, more secure data. This could mean updating CRM or other data-management tools to increase security, being more thoughtful about what data your company collects and having transparency about where that data is used, or even simply creating content that actually matters to your consumer.
Related reading: Here’s Where to Focus Your Marketing Efforts According to Experts
Invest in Digital
With B2B consumers doing more research than ever before converting, companies need to be prepared with easily accessible, valuable information. According to TrustRadius, the average tech buyer consults 6.9 information sources before making a purchase—the top three sources being product demos, vendor websites, and user reviews. And when it comes to trustworthiness? B2B buyers find product demos, user reviews, and free trials as the most reliable.
What’s the common thread between those resources? You guessed it—they are all digital. With the pandemic changing the scope of in-person work forever, the online experience is paramount. The ability to give customers easily understandable virtual content is what will drive sales. This can be done through digital product walkthroughs, live chat tools, and engaging B2B content that keeps the customer thinking of your product even after they’ve closed their browser.
Related Post: How COVID-19 Has Changed the B2B Buyer Behavior
Get Comfortable in the Dark
Still feeling overwhelmed by those 27 touchpoints? Remember that many of those touchpoints happen where you can’t see them: in the dark–dark social, that is. In short, dark social is where private conversations are held—Facebook messenger, Slack conversations, and e-mail are all examples. It can be nerve-wracking to invest in marketing and not see the needle move immediately, but rest assured that dark social is likely doing some heavy lifting unbeknownst to you. A B2B buyer interested in your service may direct message a friend in the industry who has used it. That conversation could springboard to a discussion in a team-wide Slack channel. And that Slack channel conversation could become a presentation to a company executive to consider the expenditure. But your data won’t show all that. Your data is in the dark—and that’s okay. If you are doing the work of marketing, building trust, and investing in digital channels, you can be certain that somewhere on dark social, people are talking about your products or services and making behind-the-scenes decisions.
Related reading: Discord: What Is It and How Can You Use It For Marketing?
Consumer behavior changes, especially lengthening sales cycles, can scare companies into halting marketing efforts. But all that will do is halt sales, too. Remember that you’re in it for the long haul. Like an investor pulling their money from the stock market at the slightest hint of a drop, pulling marketing dollars away from your budget will only ensure loss for your company rather than prevent it.
With our team of marketing and PR experts, Zen Media understands the frustrations, concerns, and challenges companies face during economic downturns. Need help making your brand a frontrunner? Reach out.