B2B sales cycles have become longer and salesmen and women are having an increasingly hard time getting in to see customers, and especially new prospects. There are several reasons why the B2B sales cycles has become longer – the number one factor is the recession, the greatest economic downturn we’ve faced since the Great Depression of the 1920′s and despite positive indicators, we are still not out of the woods yet!
Another reason for longer sales cycles is that buyers have assumed much greater control. It used to be a company launching a new product would ask the vendors for their opinion on the product and challenges facing it at launch, and this was where marketing departments spent a large amount of their time. Now, if you want the same information it is the customers you need to talk to because the balance of power has shifted in their direction.
Buyers can access knowledge on your product and any other product, at lightning speed – simply search Google, Yahoo! or any of the other search engines. Buyers no longer need sales people like they once did – not until much later in the sales cycle and usually just before they are going to purchase. Sales people are under pressure as they are in danger of becoming order takers rather than deal makers.
Trade shows circumvent the current state of affairs. If someone wants to see you at a trade show, they have already checked you out, your product is on their short list and now, they want to have some face time with the people behind the company name. This means your attendees are closer to the point of making a buying decision and now you are getting an opportunity to have some one-on-one contact which your sales people have been trying hard to get.
Now is the time to cement the relationship and move to close, at the trade show if possible but probably shortly after the event ends and you can move to formal talks away from the arena.