Adding the ‘magic factor’ of 3D and augmented tech to the traditional business sales playbook can visibly shorten selling cycles and significantly accelerate growth.
- The nature, importance and salient aspects of selling cycles
- The difference between B2B and B2Cselling cycles
- How to shrink selling cycles with 3D and augmented reality (AR)
What are selling cycles and why are they important to business?
Selling cycles represent a series of specific and tactical actions that a business takes to convert a potential customer into a paying patron. Selling cycles lay down a success framework for consistent and efficient sales performance in an organization. By integrating internal strengths and market practices, selling cycles stitch together a proven and repeatable process that takes the guess work out of the sales function, replacing it with method, speed and clarity. Selling cycles form the core of the sales strategy in an organization. In a time of post-pandemic uncertainty - and the rise of a new league of empowered ‘self-help buyers’ - selling cycles enable sales teams and revenue leaders to plan ahead with some degree of control and confidence.
In an age marked by post-pandemic uncertainty and the rise of a new generation of empowered ‘self-help buyers’, selling cycles help sales teams and revenue leaders plan ahead with some degree of control and confidence.
Shorten sales cycles with product demos in 3D and AR
What are the different stages in selling cycles?
No two companies work the same way, which means no two selling cycles are the same. That said, there are commonalities, and most selling cycles adhere to a broad sequence of steps. The key ones are summarized here;
The first stage in nearly all selling cycles is finding buyers in the ‘now’ and also building future customer pipelines. This stage typically comprises top-and-middle-of-funnel (TOFU and MOFU) activities that aim to educate, differentiate, help, persuade and personalize.
The second stage in selling cycles aims to establish rapport with potential leads. This involves approaching them tactfully, garnering a deep understanding of their needs, and capturing vital information.
The third stage in selling cycles is where leads gathered in the earlier(connection) stage are sifted and categorized according to different levels of need, purchase preparedness and buying eagerness.
The fourth stage in selling cycles is where the formal pitch or official presentation of the product or idea happens. This takes places after a proposal is sent and a meeting or demo has been scheduled. A sales presentation broadly comprises the introduction of seller credentials, overview of the product or service, and brand USP’s (Unique Selling Points). The overarching purpose of this stage is to clarify what’s in it for the buyer, as well as validating claims, stress factors and reasons that make the solution better than alternatives existing in the market.
Few sales presentations proceed without some kind of pushback from the prospect, and this fifth stage of selling cycles deals with that: It stresses the importance of responding to the skepticism and queries of prospects with empathy, objectivity and honesty.
For selling cycles to be successful, the client must ultimately sign on the dotted line. Closing a sale can be done in a variety of ways :Summarization of benefits, adding a last-minute incentivize or psychological tactics like limited-period deals and negotiation on features. The key here is to stay alert to buyer signals and avoid the temptation to be too aggressive or pushy.
(And post closure)
Once a sale has been registered, all details must be entered into the company’s internal systems and soft wares(such as a CRM) and team members involved must be informed so that the post sales process can be deployed without any hitches or delay. Even if efforts have not culminated in a sale, insights garnered and information gained must be integrated and institutionalized within the company’s selling systems and frame works for future reference.
The final stage in most selling cycles is not about the current sale, but the next one. This is where the sales team turns its attention to nurturing- both paying patrons who have been recently onboarded, and prospects who have shown some kind of predilection for the solution and are worth pursuing. The nurturing stage in typical selling cycles is also responsible for building sales pipelines– a critical factor for sustainable business outcomes.
It is important for business leaders to have real-time, granular and three sixty degree visibility into every stage of the selling cycles in their organizations, so that they may evaluate business health more accurately with better forecasts and projections, improve team performance gradually, and take smarter strategy decisions.
B2C selling cycles vs B2B selling cycles
B2C selling cycles target individual customers and end-users, while the goal of B2B selling cycles (be it supply, distribution or service based) is to sell to other businesses and convert enterprise clients. These two do possess zones of similarity - especially when it comes to data leverage, relationship nurturing and multi-channel approaches. That said, there are also vital differences between B2C and B2B selling cycles. Here are the key ones;
Target audience (TG) : Target prospects in B2B selling cycles are typically decision-makers, department heads, function leads, subject matter experts (SMEs) and policy – regulation leaders. These are people who need to take considered and rational decisions that are aligned with broader business objectives. The TG in B2C selling cycles, on the other hand, are individual users of the solution who don’t need complicated buy-ins from C suites and board rooms, and carry the luxury of indulging in personal whims and subjective considerations while making a buying decision.
Decision paths : B2B purchases are often high-stake activities with important ramifications for the profitability, reputation and longevity of the business. Not surprisingly, B2B selling cycles are typically more layered and complex involving multiple stakeholders and interests. B2B selling cycles will often have to go through nested layers of internal reviews and cross-departmental consultations before arriving at a purchase consensus. This can mean several touch points and slow, protracted timelines. At the other end of the spectrum, decision paths in B2C selling cycles, typically involving a single person (or at best a family), tend to be far simpler, quicker and shorter – with emotional gratification, lifestyle choices and price considerations driving the purchase.
Seller involvement: B2B selling cycles demand that the sales practitioners involved be more knowledgeable about the features and benefits of the product, more agile to the pain points of prospects, more responsive to fast evolving market trends and disruptions, more professional in the way they demonstrate value and more sustained in the way they engage with potential patrons. In B2C selling cycles, on the other hand, the seller can be relatively less invested in the journey - both emotionally and monetarily – and still ace sales quotas with ease.
Acquisition costs : B2B selling cycles are characterized by long-term relationship nurturing and confidence building exercises which entails greater investments and spends. In contrast, B2C selling cycles are normally characterized by far lower financial inputs. Many a time, in the case of B2C selling cycles, ‘free of cost channels’ or ‘low cost interventions’- such as word-of-mouth, referrals and impulse buying- provide sufficient force to push a transaction over the closure line. That is not all. Sizes of B2C lead pools - which typically have bigger demographic audiences and markets to play with (as compared to B2Bselling cycles which tend to be laser focused on a filtered and finite set of clients) – further drives down customer acquisition costs inB2C selling cycles.
Adding the ‘magic parameter’ of 3D and AR to traditional selling cycles can revolutionize demo presentations, amp up buyer confidence, shrink selling cycles measurably and boost sales by up to 200 percent.
Closing sales faster with smarter selling cycles
Mastering the nuances of the various angles and aspects of selling cycles can help professionals and practitioners of sales shorten buyer journeys and close deals faster. Here’s a quick playbook that can help make that happen.
- Do not waste time by casting the prospect net too wide: instead, curate a shortlist of clients where the ‘need - solution match’ is the greatest, and kick-start momentum by prioritizing leads that are relatively easier to score. In many businesses, the ‘customer’ (business owners and hierarchy leaders who will sanction the purchase budget) can be different from the ‘end-user’ (executives and frontline workers who will actually use the product) - and planning must be done accordingly.
- Identify key stakeholders and decision makers so that efforts and resources are optimized : research out their challenges, ambitions and persona highlights to fine tune approach and strategy.
- Seller and prospect must set mutually agreed goals and expectations at every point along the journey to minimize misalignment and confusion.
- Be prepared to tackle points of resistance with answers that are on-point, backed by data and honest.
- Be forthright and clear when it comes to engagement pillars like features, impact and pricing
- Try the tested tactic of ‘incremental closure’ where a sales team advances steadily by closing a series of small commitments to build trust gradually.
- Map out the engagement roadmap in advance and place checks and balances along the way – whenever things get off track, proactively shepherd the conversation back.
- Automate the process as much as possible with the help of technology and software like CRMs to eliminate human errors and lift efficiencies.
- Turn to the power of data to connect patters, confirm hunch and close gaps.
- Set success KPIs and milestones: Customers prioritize companies that respond to their concerns quickly, so lowering lead times should be right on top of the KPI list.
- Keep monitoring, measuring and refining performance: Identify bottle necks, focus on best performing channels and run A/B experiments.
- Ensure departments and teams are aligned and walking in lockstep: pay particular attention to marketing and sales– ensure a seamless sync so that they complement rather than cancelling each other out.
- Leverage the power of content to inform, engage and convert: Build a powerful digital presence, double down on content categories, formats and platforms that work best, leverage social proof and embrace innovative horrification tools and methods.
- Shock and awe: In the age of information overload and goldfish attention spans, few gambits work better than surprise and novelty when it comes to making an impression – especially on a new generation of buyers that has ‘been there and done that’.
In this context, 3D and augmented reality(AR) technologies – with their ability to create unique and visually immersive ‘discovery experiences’, generate deep behavioral insights through real time data mining, and embed unique ‘try before you buy’ moments natively into the narrative – can turn selling cycles on their head and effectively change the game. Stats confirm that adding the ‘magic parameter’ of3D and AR to traditional B2B and B2C selling cycles can revolutionize demo presentations, amp up buyer confidence and boost sales by up to 200 percent. No wonder then that according to a Deloitte study, nine out of ten medium sized brands are already using 3D and AR to fuel their consumer journeys. There is no question that momentum is building in favor of 3D and AR across product niches and solution categories, signaling a whole new way to visualize, augment and shorten selling cycles.