Yes, you read that correctly. We said “the best.” Meaning better than the typical enterprise sales cycle.

2020 surely left a mark on enterprise sales and marketing: huge hits to pipeline, prolonged sales cycles, and heightened expectations from newly pressured buyers. And now, depending on your fiscal year, most of us are staring down Q4 and setting up for a running start in 2021. Yet conditions remain unstable and most buyers still can’t focus beyond the immediate 30, 60, 90 days in front of them.

So, how exactly is this good news to sellers? In a conversation with Emissary advisor and Business Acceleration Leader, Adam, we uncovered a potential silver lining of these unique times — and a way for sellers to take advantage of new sales cycle opportunities. 

Calendar with timer

Help Your Buyers Fix Today

Salespeople are tasked with looking for the ‘win-win’, wins for their organization and wins for the clients. Those things can come to a head at the end of fiscal years. There may indeed be large deal opportunities to end the year, but Adam cautioned against getting out of synch with clients, particularly in a time when people are under extreme pressure.  If a client is only capable of a small short-term project, then that is likely the best option for them and for you. 

According to Adam:

“It’s okay to go land a couple of SKUs over a short period of time, develop credibility, develop a relationship, and then close an enterprise agreement later. It’s not like you’re not going to have a quota next year.”

Now is the time where your buyers will tell you explicitly what they need in the short term. With so many open and frank conversations taking place, it’s more crucial now than ever that you listen more than you sell and find the right solution to fix the now. 

That doesn’t mean you can’t be asking future-oriented questions and set the stage for a more strategic opportunity later on. And you should still be bringing value in every interaction, bringing unique ideas to the table, and solving some of their real problems. 

typical enterprise sales cycle Team leader expanding network

Expand Your Account Network

As you work to fix the now, there is that pivotal point where your relationship building will dictate your likelihood for expansion. Buying coalitions are continuing to expand, and the importance of understanding a wide variety of decision-makers will only increase in 2021. 

Another 2020 trend that will carry forward into 2021 is the prevalence of business acceleration and business transformation leaders.  This role has become crucial to many large companies for aligning all stakeholders and moving technology initiatives forward.

This confirms that as you start to gain small footprints in your target accounts, you should reach out to the broader teams involved or expand the conversation to new business units. Learn from the trends you’re starting to see at your target accounts and use that as your foundation to network and understand the many roles and dynamics that are involved in a decision. 

According to Adam:

“This is the window of time to have as many conversations with as many people as you can, to really deeply understand what’s going on at a company and what people’s desires, ambitions, and goals are. That way, when the time comes to start landing the enterprise level discussions with procurement or sourcing or whomever, you can say, Oh, here are the 30 people that I’ve talked to.”

In the Summer edition of Emissary’s Buyer Snapshot, research revealed that 70% of IT buyers kept their project roadmap as is, added, and/or accelerated projects, and 89% said the crisis had driven organizational interest in at least one additional IT category. To add more complexity to those numbers, 38% of IT executives also reported that their organizations had been forced to manage labor costs through layoffs and furloughs.

Simply put: there’s a lot to get done in a typical enterprise sales cycle and not a lot of manpower behind it. This means that buyers don’t have the time to keep up with new emerging technologies and industry trends quite the way they used to. They want to know where they should be allocating their budget and what shiny new toys their competitors have, but it’s gotten a lot more difficult with the additional projects on their plate. 

This presents great opportunities for sellers to take an education-based approach and provide value to their buyers before asking for anything in return. This will make your message stick and your buyer will actually want to hear what you have to say for their own benefit: 

“It’s about giving them industry information and keeping them abreast of what’s going on in the world to help them shine. There is so much interest right now to know ‘how do I get a competitive edge?’ If you can find a way to position yourself, your product, or your platform as a way to drive a competitive edge in the marketplace, it feels like an almost guarantee that you’ll get an audience.”

It’s important to keep in mind that you’re not looking for big commitments on their end. You’re there to help them learn and to help you understand what their goals are. You get the opportunity to put a face to your name and set yourself up for the right expectations after each call. Be mindful of the outcomes you’re looking for throughout your typical enterprise sales cycle and the dividends will pay off in the long run:

“We’re in a very unique window right now, where there’s unprecedented access. You can get meetings with almost anybody over a video call, 15 minutes, 20 minutes here and there. This is the opportunity to take that, take those small windows, develop relationships, develop coalitions, become a known quantity. Then when it comes time to really lending deals, you’ve got those relationships.”

typical enterprise sales cycle Business people establishing a relationship

Let Your 2D Success Translate to 3D Success

Now that silver lining we referred to? It’s all right here. As you take the time to establish relationships over these quick Zoom calls here and there, you’re investing in your 2021 revenue, and that’s hopefully when things become face to face:

“It’s going to be a really great time for sellers when you can start having in-person meetings again, and you get to have those discussions where people say, “Oh, it’s the first time I’m seeing you in person,” but you’ve seen them five, 10, 20 times over video.”

Although now is the time in the typical enterprise sales cycle where you’ll be investing huge chunks of your time and slowly building these coalitions, sellers have never had this window of opportunity available to them before. If you can prove the value you’re building to your revenue leaders, they’ll understand where the investment is going and plan for that long-term payoff:

Yes, sales cycles will be extended, but I think that they’re also going to be broadened. I think you’re going to the opportunity to land bigger, better, longer-term, more complex, and more interesting deals over the long-term. You’ve probably lost some of the non-strategic stuff in the short term. Hopefully, you don’t get hurt too much, but I think there’s far more opportunity ahead than problems behind.”

Adam’s silver lining is all based on a change in the seller’s perspective. Reframing your conversations and setting yourself up for the right goals and right conversations will ultimately lead to a remarkably successful 2021:

“This is probably the best time to be a seller in history. At least in my career. I’ve never seen a better time for a seller.”

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