It's great to celebrate; kick back for a weekend and reflect on the year half complete. Enjoy your upcoming long weekend!
Don't delude yourself. If you own, or have P&L responsibility for a B2B business, 2014 is largely in the bag - for better or for worse. Here's why.
July & August - That's vacation season. You know full well (and your sales reps will consistently remind you) that capital budgets and major business initiatives aren't seriously considered, much less implemented during the bulk of the third quarter. And although Labor Day arrives early this year (September 1) there's at least two weeks of 'ramp up' as folks return from vacations. So you've got a couple Q3 weeks to work with.
October & November - That's B2B trade show season. Companies aren't going to make major decisions or investments with a trade show just around the corner. They'll wait, send a small team to the show to compare known options and scout new ones. Then the team will return, take time to prepare a report, and then discuss it with colleagues. And of course November is effectively a three week month (how much really gets done in the three days of Thanksgiving week?)
December - Good news here. There are a couple decent weeks before everything shifts to year end, closing, planning, etc...and of course holidays and other work limitations.
So according to common wisdom you've got a couple weeks in September and a couple in December. Is that enough to hit your targets?
If that doesn't 'feel' or 'sound' right that's because it shouldn't. It's absurd (but widely believed!) First, it's a function of a self limiting traditional mindset (like no company grows during a slow economic cycle.)
But more importantly it's a function of an outdated sales model.
It used to be that when direct sales people had to connect in person for a series of meetings and conversations, traditional scheduling conflicts did impact the pace of business. That was back when direct sales people controlled information and the sales process.
Today, however, since >90% of B2B purchases initiate with an internet search and since research shows that the buying process is typically 70% complete before buyers are willing to speak to sales reps, many folks are embarking upon their buying journey on weekends, evenings, during vacation (and maybe even from their smart phone while their boorish cousin rambles on at the Thanksgiving gathering!)
So the real problem isn't vacations, capital budget cycles and holidays - rather the real problem is that you don't know who's buying, or who should be buying, what you're selling. Nor does your model accommodate the virtual, protracted and convoluted buying process typical in todays markets. Your direct sales model is disconnected from how your prospects are buying.
Syncing buying and selling cycles
The solution, therefore, isn't to lament the challenges and buy into the excuses. Instead the solution is to develop a B2B sales approach which leverages the power of inbound marketing to sell virtually through the first 70% of the sales process. You achieve this by establishing thought leadership around the business challenges your buyers face all year (and stew about at least 350 days/year,) and which you may understand better than they do. You create a body of educational content in various forms, optimized for your key buyer/prospect profiles, which resonates with them and works on your behalf - independent of external factors.
And your huge fall trade show investments? Is your B2B marketing treating those as 3 day events or extended campaign opportunities with pre and post components?
Stepping up your gameHere's the point. If you're in the B2B manufacturing space, particularly selling complex products or services, to a large extent your ability to impact 2014 is fleeting. But you've got a huge opportunity to impact 2015 by building a B2B sales and marketing model that will:
- help prospects find you whom you'd never have found on your own
- create a huge early stage sales footprint without increasing your sales staff
- filter prime opportunities from low quality
- prospect and sell 24 X 7 X 365
- establish an entirely higher level of market position and authority
- substantially grow marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads and revenue
- build out of 2014, grow in 2015 and rock 2016
But there's a lag time from when you start until you really begin to harvest the fruits.
Maybe now's the time to start? Intrigued? Download our book on the evolving B2B Sales & Marketing environment for free.