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Extended B2B Sales Cycle: How to Keep Closing
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Extended B2B Sales Cycle: How to Keep Closing

With the economy on shaky ground, many B2B companies are seeing their sales cycles drag on.
Author
Primer team
Updated on
March 12, 2024
Published on
October 23, 2023
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Buyers are taking way more time before signing on the dotted line. They want to think through big purchases, weigh their options, and get everyone on board.

So sales teams need to tweak their playbooks to keep hitting targets, even if B2B sales cycle stretches longer than usual. In this article, we'll look at ways to maintain sales momentum when macro challenges slow things down.

While external forces make B2B selling tougher, smart account planning, deal diagnosis, and customer-focused messaging can overcome obstacles. Now more than ever, it’s critical to equip teams and streamline processes to drive predictable revenue. We'll see how sales leaders can guide their teams to thrive amid elongating B2B sales cycles. With the right framework to spot friction and reduce it, you can keep sales momentum going even when buyers need more time.

The Dangers of Short-Term Thinking and the Pitfalls of 'Quartermania'

In today's nonstop business world, companies feel immense pressure to post strong earnings every single quarter. But this obsession with quarterly numbers often pushes organizations to prioritize immediate results over long-term success.

This “Quarterlmania” encourages behaviors that undermine sustainable value. It leads to decisions that only benefit the current quarter.

Research clearly shows public companies managed mostly for quarterly earnings dramatically underperform over the long run versus those prioritizing lasting value creation.

One McKinsey study revealed short-term focused firms underperformed earnings by 8% that first year. But they outperformed by 36% over 10 years. The study concludes an obsessive focus on quarterly estimates pushes leaders into decisions that maximize current quarter results instead of investing in future growth capabilities.

Sales teams feel the pressure to close deals before the quarter ends to hit their targets. Often, they resort to discounting, unrealistic promises, and glossing over risks—just to get the contract signed in time.

Simply put, effective leaders take the long view. They make choices today that ensure future success, prosperity, and growth. They understand that to hit targets, they must plan further out and adjust short-term goals accordingly.

Take a look at the most impactful and up-to-date 2023 marketing and sales strategies that help B2B companies grow consitently.

The B2B sales cycle has expanded over time, with research indicating 15% growth in the past 5 years as purchasing requires more internal alignment. An uncertain macro environment has dragged deal cycles out even further. Knowing this, leaders should adapt strategies and tactics to these longer timeframes and complexities, avoiding quick fixes that may harm long-term partnerships despite short-term gains. Let’s talk about how. 

Why Complex B2B Relationships Can't Be Rushed

Trust is essential in B2B relationships, and it takes real time to build. Buyers need to believe a vendor has their back, grasps their needs, and can be counted on for the long haul. That level of confidence requires tons of two-way communication during an extended B2B sales cycle. It can't be fast-tracked.

Consensus needs to be reached across multiple decision-makers with different priorities. Getting all those stakeholders aligned is key for successful adoption and maximum value. That consensus among diverse players requires tailored outreach and education over time.

Forcing quick decisions by putting accounts on the fast track not only hurts both vendor and client but also destroys trust and divides the client team, forcing them to accelerate the B2B sales cycle unnecessarily.

It also produces subpar solutions with disappointing results. According to Forrester Research, over 70% of B2B tech purchases fail to achieve expected benefits, often because key voices weren't properly included during a too-short sales process.

The message is clear: sustainable B2B relationships can't pop up overnight. Smart vendors understand that complex sales require patience. They resist taking shortcuts in the B2B sales cycle, even when pressured to produce immediate results. They plan for longer deal cycles and adjust pipeline expectations with their Board and investors accordingly. They model out the reality vs. their desire.

The Strategic Mindset to Re-Engage Customers in B2B Sales Cycle

To succeed when B2B sales cycles drag on, you need a strategic mindset centered on long-term value creation.

It starts with recognizing lifetime customer value is way more important than quarterly sales targets. Growing and expanding existing relationships should be the north star. That’s why you should double down on account-based sales.

Research shows that the profitability of a client relationship increases over time. The longer a company retains a client, the more revenue it can generate from upsells, renewals, and referrals as the B2B sales cycle consistently restarts.

But rushing deals to hit short-term numbers often means discounting prices and accepting unprofitable contracts, which directly conflicts with expansion revenue. A smarter approach is having the patience to land ideal customers willing to pay full value for what you provide. This requires focusing on deal quality over deal quantity. Sales teams shouldn't feel pressured to close deals at any cost just to juice up quarterly performance.

Making the Business Case for Long-Term Thinking

To shift leadership thinking, sales leaders should push for changes that promote long-term strategic thinking:

  • Create growth models factoring in longer B2B sales cycle rather than unrealistic expectations. Set quarterly instead of monthly targets to allow more time for complex deals.
  • Reward reps who resurrect and expand existing accounts. This values building relationships over time versus quick hits.
  • Educate execs on research showing long-term focused companies beat short-term focused peers by a mile. Embracing patience and discipline drives superior returns from an elongated B2B sales cycle.
  • Spotlight risks of accelerated B2B sales cycles, including unprofitable deals, technical debt, and customer distrust. Rushing for quick wins creates downstream problems.
  • Make the case for strategic investments in innovation, capabilities, and customer success. These enable value delivery beyond the initial sale.

With compelling data and a clear vision, sales leaders can influence executives to embrace changes that curb "quarterly thinking" and promote sustainable growth mindsets. The stakeholder’s buy-in will also be a powerful driver for setting shared goals and aligning marketing and sales efforts.

Why Rushing Complex Deals is a Recipe for Failure

As we've explored, there are good reasons companies should avoid accelerating complex B2B deals despite the pressure to produce short-term sales. While closing deals faster may temporarily boost metrics, it erodes the trust vital to long-lasting customer relationships and revenue growth.

Trying to hurry enterprise deals is a recipe for failure for several reasons. First, it damages trust and credibility with customers. Pushing hard for quick decisions rather than taking time to understand needs sends the wrong signal. Customers lose faith in partners and are more worried about immediate gains versus their long-term interests.

Second, speeding up B2B sales cycle encourages sales behaviors that destroy value. Reps take shortcuts like offering inadequate solutions or pressuring customers into questionable decisions. Customers resent high-pressure tactics and being forced into choices that are not right for their business.

Third, complexity requires engaging multiple stakeholders. Forcing artificial deadlines makes it impossible to build alignment and consensus. Lack of buy-in leads to implementation challenges later on.

Fourth, rushed deals often lack sufficient upfront discovery and planning. This results in mismatched expectations, surprise roadblocks, and cost overruns. Taking time to thoroughly assess needs and get aligned on B2B sales cycle process prevents downstream headaches.

Finally, enterprises can't absorb major changes overnight. Attempting rapid transformations risks employee confusion, resistance, and failure. Organizations need time to adapt to new systems and workflows.

In today's quarter-focused context, leaders must restrain short-term pursuits. While closing deals faster may temporarily improve metrics, it erodes the trust essential for long-term relationships.

Source: sayprimer.com

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, B2B companies can't let "Quartermania" and short-term thinking rule business strategy. Obsessing over immediate sales and earnings might juice today's metrics. But it totally sabotages the long-term customer relationships and sustainable growth that should be the real goals.

Leaders need to flip the script - make decisions for the long haul and invest in strategic capabilities that power future prosperity. Sales teams shouldn't fear extended B2B sales cycle. With the right mindset, they can turn longer processes into an advantage by building trust and ensuring fit.

Patience, not pressure, is the path to B2B success today. Taking the time to listen, diagnose issues, and craft optimal solutions is the recipe for valuable, lasting partnerships. So tune out the quarterly earnings hype. Bring the focus back to where it belongs - on delivering phenomenal customer experiences and mutual value. That's how you build a business that outperforms over the decades, not just the next quarter.

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