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How Conversation Bots Slash B2B Sales Cycles

2nd Oct 2018
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Long sales cycles are a frustrating part of B2B customer relationships. In the age of Amazon Prime and Netflix, no one wants to wait 3-6 months to close a deal — yet that’s how long it usually takes.

B2B sales cycles typically involve at least a half dozen people. Each person represents a different department and interests, bringing unique questions and concerns to the table. Meeting procurement criteria and getting approvals at enterprise companies takes time. However, it takes even more time to get everyone in the same room for a meeting with a vendor. Wouldn’t it be nice if B2B companies had a tool that could reduce the sales cycles from months to weeks or even days?

It would be — and that tool already exists. Conversation bots are changing the shape of the sales funnel. They empower vendors to accelerate lead qualification, provide relevant information to prospects at digital speed, and engage with people at any time of the day.

Conversation bots are the perfect partner to help B2B companies shorten their sales cycles. But to use these tools effectively, organizations must understand where their challenges lie and how the unique capabilities of a botforce can help them overcome those challenges.

Why B2B Deals Take Too Long

One explanation for why B2B sales cycles drag out is the product price tag. Even prices on luxury consumer items like new cars pale in comparison to the cost of new digital infrastructure for a multinational company. A new boat might cost $50,000, but a new SaaS agreement or piece of factory equipment could cost millions. It makes sense that purchasing committees will do their research.

Product-company fit is another reason. Many B2B solutions include customization because every organization operates under unique circumstances. No two businesses use a piece of software the same way, which means salespeople must highlight or downplay different features accordingly.

Even in the best situations with the most charming salespeople, B2B buyers feel major stress. The average buyer feels guilty when a $100 printer doesn’t work properly — B2B buyers are responsible for much more significant sums. In some cases, the wrong purchase could cost the buyer his or her job. To avoid negative consequences, buyers consult multiple parties, request proofs of concept, and talk to customer references.

According to research published in the Harvard Business Review, even senior executives feel the heat. Many describe the B2B buying process using words like “awful” and “minefield,” indicating that even people in the C-suite aren’t always comfortable making expensive decisions.

Furthermore, when too many options are offered, analysis paralysis sets in. If only buyers could talk to conversation bots to get an answer to their questions.  If only they could get all the info they need to justify the purchase when they need it.

Accelerating The Pace of the Sales Cycle

Conversation bots, unlike traditional lead forms and other customer acquisition channels, are intelligent and always available. By leveraging these tools effectively, B2B sellers can reduce a prospect’s anxiety and engage in more meaningful conversations throughout the sales process.

Conversation bots can be trained to ask questions to detect the person’s intent so they can guide people toward relevant content. Someone who has done plenty of research might want to speak to a salesperson, but someone just starting out might want to read more about what the product does. Tasking a trained conversation bot to guide people to the right information helps future customers feel heard, but not rushed — and it also makes life easier for salespeople.

When salespeople get leads from conversation bots, they don’t just get names and phone numbers. They also get website activity, chat logs, and content history. Those extra nuggets of information empower salespeople to identify a prospect’s concerns and engage them with more meaningful conversations.

With conversation bots, salespeople can now offer prospects a digital experience that’s meaningful, personalized, and value-driven. And in today’s competitive environment, salespeople must have a channel that enables them to connect with prospects sooner rather than later.

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