The structural changes required to shorten B2B enterprise technology sales cycles

by Felix Krueger

Shortening B2B enterprise technology sales cycles requires structural changes that not many organisations are ready for. 

A recent episode of the Sales Enablement Podcast with Andy Paul spoke about this topic. 

I loved how accurate it was and it also tied in with what Docusign's Matthew Dean had to say in the inaugural episode of my Podcast about marketing and sales alignment. 

In Andy's discussion with Skip Miller, it crystalised that a common way in B2B enterprise tech is for the sales effort to be focused on product end-users.

Because end-users appreciate the intricacies of the product, they are more likely to speak to sales. 

The problem with this approach is that the deep understanding of product features means that the progression within the sales cycle is slow. Educated end-users require detailed demos, heavy trial usage, product roadmap discussions, POC's... the list goes on. 

Only when the end-user has established that the solution is the best solution based on their granular subject-matter expertise sales get introduced to decision-makers (if they're lucky). 

Senior executives make faster decisions

A better way to shorten the sales cycle is to engage C-suite decision-makers and communicate the strategic value of the product. Executives are time-poor and want to make a good enough decision to solve a pressing issue fast and then move on.

From my experience, the problem most product-led B2B tech companies struggle with is that their messaging isn't relevant to senior decision-makers.

The missed content skillset opportunity

There are three ways for B2B enterprise technology sales to better engage the C-suite:

  1. hiring of costly senior salespeople that have the relevant experience
  2. lengthy training to upskill the existing sales team
  3. content that enables sales to repeatedly educate and engage senior executives by addressing their most pressing business challenges 

Option number three is by far the fastest and most cost-effective way to increase the messaging relevance for senior decision-makers, yet few organisations effectively utilise their marketing department's content skillset to enable sales. 

Why? 

The reason is simple: Marketing teams are often caught up in the MQL hamster wheel and are incentivised to attract easier-to-reach end-users instead of senior executives. 

The bottom line

A more effective collaboration between marketing and sales is only possible if the incentives are aligned. Sales cycle length and deal size should be part of it which implies that marketing's focus changes from end-users to senior executives.

Only then marketing's skillset can be effectively utilised to enables sales with content that speaks to the strategic value of a technology solution, engage (fast) decision-makers, and shorten the sales cycle.

I'm curious to hear what your thoughts on this topic are. Does marketing in your organisation have the right incentives to support a consolidated effort to target the C-suite? Let me know in the comments below.

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