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How to Utilize (and Crush) Long Sales Cycles

The aviation industry has such long sales cycles, what can I do to stay top of mind?

Sales cycles in the aerospace industry can be daunting, averaging up to six months (or longer) – a so-called ‘quick win’ is hard to come by. As a result, this makes staying motivated a bit challenging. Sometimes you feel you are almost nagging the potential buyer by following up, “Hey, just checking in to see if I can answer any questions on our proposal?” Sound familiar? The good news is that it’s usually a decent win whenever close that ultimate sale. These wins are often worth the time spent chasing each opportunity. But – while you are in this waiting period – what are some useful tactics you can deploy beyond the standard follow-up emails and phone calls?

  1. Consistent marketing through various channels. Your marketing efforts as a whole should start with a strategy that allows leveraging all of the channels your audiences would potentially interact with. That, paired with well-developed tactics, consistently sprinkled throughout the year, will ensure you pop up at the right time for the potential buyer, with the right creative and message.
  1. Create and share relevant, valuable content. More than ever, developing useful content catered to each of your audiences is becoming increasingly more important. This is your chance to spread brand awareness to your prospects, particularly those that have purchasing power. The right type of content will position your company as a true authority in your product and service offerings while elevating your position in the aviation industry. Think about how you can stand apart from your competition by offering easily accessible information for your future customers – and how this can truly help them make the correct buying decision. Map a campaign focused on thought leadership and offer resources on various industry-relevant topics – including but not limited to checklists, tips, explanations – content that is purely intended to be helpful (please avoid the standard sales pitch!) Pro Tip: Make sure your offer prospects the opportunity to opt-in for your great content.
  1. Connect on LinkedIn and stay active where you see your contact engaging. While social media isn’t necessarily going to lead to a landslide of sales activity, it can lead to keeping your prospect consistently engaged. As soon as you can, connect with them on LinkedIn. Do some browsing, see what and who they interact with. Research their network, groups they follow, and hashtags they may have listed on their profile. Follow their company on LinkedIn and interact with the content they publish. You can, of course, do this with other social media channels, but experience has shown me LinkedIn appears to be the most relevant for B2B audiences.
  1. Look for ways to reduce the sales cycle timeline. Through your time selling and marketing, you possess a strong skill set for how your audience buys from you. You see what they respond to and what they don’t. You might have even experimented with various ideas to get them to buy faster. Think about the questions those prospects had. What did they ask the most? Is it price? Is it turn time? Is it reliability? What do they seem to care about the most? Draft specific responses to these inquiries and use them (see #2 and #5 – all great places to leverage these responses). You might be able to shorten the sales cycle by answering their question before they even know they have one or before they get the chance to ask. Pro Tip: Think about Amazon’s reviews for all of their products. They do this across the board because they know that’s the number one area their buyers visit to decide on a purchase. Same concept with how they provide free & fast shipping – they know this nudges the buyer toward checkout. How can you apply these concepts to your specific marketing and sales efforts?
  1. Track all engagement in a CRM system. And when I say all, I mean every. thing. Phone calls, emails, etc., set up automated tasks as reminders in your CRM system to ensure this prospect doesn’t fall through the cracks. It’s easy to forget about leads as they age in the sales cycle because we often focus on bringing in the next buyer. This is where having a timed, well-crafted response ahead of time will be critical. You can also draft relevant engagement emails that can send at a timed cadence based on your experience with prospects at your business. This is easily automated, with many CRM systems offering workflows with minimal overall effort. Pro Tip: This doesn’t have to be perfect. Put something down, try it out, and modify as needed.
  1. Spread your network. Make connections with others at your prospects’ business – another avenue where social media research comes into play. We exist during a time where we have the magical internet playground at our fingertips to find any information we can handle. Take advantage of this. Yes, it can be daunting (just ask my browser history), but make a checklist to systemize this effort for each prospect. Making connections beyond your initial contact can really help when it’s time for the “buy” – others may understand the critical nature surrounding this purchase and help drive it forward with your primary contact.

To sum it all up – remember to celebrate each milestone of #winning a potential contract. Moving from a qualified marketing lead to a sales opportunity, from an initial sales meeting to submitting an RFP, these are all worth celebrating. 🍾