The Seven Stages of Sales Cycle

The Seven Stages of the Sales Cycle

Technology has increased the amount of data we’re exposed to in our day-to-day lives. That’s why the best sales practices of today (that yield superior results) are all heavily focused on centralized lead generation.
A well-structured lead-generation program will always be more effective than improvised, off-the-cuff attempts at sales. The creativity and on-the-spot thinking of individual salespeople are important – but only in certain stages of the overall sales strategy.
What is a Sales Strategy?
As salespeople, we all take great joy from improvising and using our individual talents to guarantee sales. But, the Internet exposes us to incredible amounts of data about customers.
Filtering buyers is very easy. So is creating specific categories for buyers. But, the modern-day challenge in sales is to appeal to these categories and convert as many ‘latent’ customers into ‘active’ buyers.
A sales strategy is essentially a pre-defined playbook to achieving these goals. When you’re working on potentially thousands of leads a day, your sales team needs to have a playbook or a sales strategy that increases your chances of closing sales.

What is the Seven-Step Sales Cycle?

A sales cycle is a series of probable events/steps that are part of almost every sales process. Sales cycles can differ based on the products and services on sale. They can also vary based on the nature of the organization.
All sales are unique. The term “sales cycle” simply refers to the time sales professionals spend between making the first contact with the customer and closing the deal. Anything that happens during this period is part of the sales cycle.
Modern-day sales cycles include – marketing plans, plans to maintain customer interest and converting prospects into customers. The seven-step or the seven-stage sales cycle is a widely used strategy among B2B businesses.
Contrary to belief, knowing and naming each step you’re taking while executing a sales process makes a lot of difference. The different stages of the sales cycle are –
1. Prospecting
2. Preparation
3. Approach
4. Presentation
5. Addressing Objections
6. Closing
7. Follow-Up
The stages/steps can vary from business to business. But, the essence of this strategy deals with themes like generating customer awareness, spending time with customers to earn their interest, and finalizing conversions by following a strict strategy.
Many B2B companies use different terms to name these stages. For example, “Getting the customer” is the same as prospecting and preparation.
Why should you even consider using these pre-defined sales and marketing steps? There are some key benefits of using (or at least knowing) the seven-step process in your own sales cycles.
• You can optimize your team to deliver the pre-defined needs of the seven-stage sales cycle.
• It becomes easier to identify pain points in your company’s sales strategy. For example, if three out of four deals of the week get stuck in the third stage (approach), your sales team can put more attention to that stage in future deals.
• Using a sales cycle process with a good track record of success makes it easy to recruit, train, and onboard new employees. Employees understand their short and long-term goals easily. They also clearly understand their responsibilities in each step in the cycle.
• It’s also easier to spot areas of the cycle where large amounts of resources are going to waste.
• Most importantly, the seven-stage sales cycle is modifiable. Managers can assess which steps in the cycle need altering and keep improving. A company’s ability to tackle unexpected obstacles also improves.
Whether the sales cycle is linear or circular – as long as a healthy number of qualified leads are moving through your sales cycle, your organization can benefit a lot from using the seven-step sales process that’s outlined in countless business textbooks. You can always customize this strategy to suit your target customers and your particular business goals.

Let’s assess each step –

1. Prospecting

Prospecting is the process of recognizing your customers with the intention of getting in contact with them. In the current world of digitalized sales, it essentially means generating leads.
When you’re dealing with a large group of target customers, your prospecting process should be based on your target customer’s industry, buying habits, etc. Anyone who shows perceived interest in your offer, product, or service should be considered a potential lead.
How to generate large numbers of leads? Traditionally, prospecting and lead generation processes have been dominated by in-person networking, trade shows, or word-of-mouth referrals. For a brief period, many businesses even found success in cold calling.
But modern-day customers (especially B2B customers) demand a more personalized approach. Thankfully, personalized prospecting can be performed over the internet through various channels – paid online advertising, social media, etc.
The more channels your lead generation funnel has, the better. But, when it comes to building personalized relationships with prospects, no channel outperforms email. Despite the fact that email marketing has its limitations, it still works – much better than all the other channels/tools in standard digital marketing sales funnels.
• 86% of business professionals claim email is their preferred medium of communication.
• When it comes to securing new sales, email marketing is 4000% more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined.
• A recent study reported that 35-50% of B2B sales are secured by the vendor who responds the first to client queries/requests.
Personalized emails have a 14% higher CTR (click-through rates). Personalized emails are also opened 26% more than standard, non-personalized sales emails. Most importantly, a personalized email is six times likelier to lead to a transaction.
Even though open rates are typically very low for sales emails, businesses can still use personalization techniques to achieve amazing levels of engagement. That’s why the top B2B marketers still use email as their main channel for lead generation.
Plus, your connections on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., aren’t owned by your business. You’re technically renting space on their social platforms. Social platforms are always prone to changes. If tomorrow, Facebook’s ad deals and filters change, you’ll have to spend resources to adjust.
Email marketing doesn’t come with these problems. As long as your target consumers’ email addresses are obtained legally, you can target them as and when needed. Plus, it’s easier to search/store old emails. Assess how you use emails over the years to move target consumers along the purchasing path.
With email, you can also segment/filter your contact lists and hyper-personalize your marketing messages. Send emails that are specifically relevant to prospects’ interests, needs, and their respective positions in the sales cycle.
Although email marketing gives businesses immediate ROIs (much faster compared to other marketing formats like social media or paid search), like all other channels in sales cycles, it has its limitations. To grow and engage your prospect list using email marketing, you’ll need to create a clear strategy.
5 Prospecting Techniques That Leverage the Power of Email Marketing
Unless you have a healthy list of target customers, you can’t use email automation to its maximum potential. So, the chief goal of growing your email list should be acquiring as many high-quality prospects as you can.
Follow these steps to create a list of contacts full of prospects who have a solid interest in your product/services –
Fill Up Your Website with Lead Magnets
Lead magnets are things (typically free) you offer to the people who visit your website in return for their email addresses. For instance, a free eBook on the product you’re selling can be of value to your website visitors.
When they see these offers on your product page, blog section, etc., they’ll be inclined to download them for free. Bear in mind – the lead magnet should offer something relevant and valuable. It should also catch the attention of every website visitor.
• Make sure your lead magnet has a detailed, solution-focused headline.
• Make your lead magnets short but value-packed. Giving away a 150-page eBook isn’t ideal. Instead, give them a taste of your specific expertise. The lead magnet should encourage them to engage with your website’s content.
• Include actionable elements in the lead magnet. It should feature instructions that encourage the readers to take steps towards sharing their email address or learning more about the brand.
• Add clear and simple to follow CTAs (calls to action).
If the lead magnet consists of content or information target customers are eager to get their hands on, they’ll easily share their email address. As soon as they share the addresses, send them an automated email that guides them on how to subscribe to your email list.
Once you secure the email address, you can nurture your leads with email newsletters, free PDFs, eBooks, or anything that provides value to them. Eventually, when you invite members in your email list to take action, a huge chunk of them will be likely to accept your offer.
Ask Members of Your Email List to Sign-Up for Your Content
Just because you obtain a prospect’s email ID doesn’t mean they can be included in your weekly newsletters or your email marketing campaigns. That’s why most email IDs collected from contact form submissions, trade shows, etc., don’t offer too much value.
Unless these email users give their permission to your emails, all your marketing messages will enter their spam folders. Give prospects incentives to opt-in to your newsletters and content marketing campaigns.
Share links to free resources, free ‘state of the industry’ reports, etc. When they sign-up for your content and become regular subscribers, you can nurture them with more content, more offers, and more incentives.
Advertise and Share Valuable Content
Advertisements can boost your email lists of targeted prospects. Advertisements on social media platforms are great for drawing traffic to business websites. These platforms also give sellers speaking opportunities.
Be it live chats with followers, free product demos, or panel discussions with fellow industry leaders – speaking to virtual audiences, especially in the post-pandemic world, is the best direct line you can create between your business and your prospects.
Generate traffic through advertisements. Make sure to create landing pages on your websites to direct interested prospects to your email newsletters.
Use Social Media
Post tempting content to attract your social followers to your website, lead magnets, and email newsletters. Attract target audiences with solution-focused content. Build brand awareness on social media platforms.
Make target consumers view you and your firm as authority figures in your industry. Once you’ve created a long list of prospects, engage with them and build relationships of trust by constantly delivering valuable content, tips, links to offers, etc.
Once you’ve ‘prospected’ your leads and built strong relationships with them, invite them to take the next step.

2. Preparation/Nurturing

When you have a healthy lead generation and prospecting system, you’ll receive multiple client queries, requests, and calls every day. You’ll also have to contact your targets to verify whether the targets you’ve prospected are the right match for your product/service.
If the leads you contact match your criteria, you can move them along to the other stages of the sales cycle. If not, you should at least attempt to find out the needs and ‘nurture’ them. In an ideal world, every prospect would become a client.
But, in highly competitive markets, that’s never the reality. Nearly every sale B2B salespeople make, comes from building relationships with target customers. That doesn’t mean calling targets ten times a day.
But, there are less complex ways to build relationships with large groups of target audiences. Again, email marketing is the most effective way of preparing or nurturing a prospect. Whenever a potential lead signs up for the mailing list, see it as a sign that they need some extra convincing.
Creating an effective system of welcoming, preparing, and nurturing leads are not easy. But, there are some sure-shot ways of convincing interested prospects, especially email subscribers.
• Send follow-up emails to all target customers who have signed up for your mailing list.
• Deliver free resources (lead magnets) and thank them for joining your list.
• Share details like – company name, types of products/services you offer, and your job title (e.g., sales manager) in the introductory emails.
• Share testimonials from previous customers. Highlight case studies or facts that differentiate your brand from others.
• Send more emails describing your business process. Use infographics, images, and personalization to make these emails worthy of reading.
• Send emails where you take on the role of unbiased industry experts. Don’t explicitly mention your brand or products – only share valuable information.
• The fifth or sixth email you send should create a sense of urgency – tell the prospect why they need to take instant action. Describe the benefits, potential negative consequences of not taking action, and end it with CTAs to landing pages.
• Wrap up with recaps of your previous emails. Request them to schedule phone calls or request quotes.
To recap this section, here are the key objectives of the preparation or nurturing stage in the seven-step sales cycle –
• Giving clear instructions to customers regarding what they need to do to take the following steps.
• Make each step simple. All buyers (B2B buyers in particular) like the steps that offer the least amount of resistance. Bear in mind – their minds aren’t made up yet, and no one wants to click through hundreds of pop-ups.
• Reduce their sense of risk about trying out your products/services by giving them all the reasons not to distrust your brand. If possible, add no-obligation statements and use words like “try” or “money-back guarantee” in your communications.
• Encourage instant action. Use terms like “Click now for discounts” or “respond today for an exclusive offer.”
At the end of this stage, your target customer should be left thinking, “Why Not?” Always use multiple CTAs in your nurturing messages. Create large, colorful, and prominent CTA buttons on your website.

3. Approach

Without a well-defined strategy for approaching potential customers, all lead generation efforts are useless. No matter how many referrals, leads, contacts, etc., you bring in – unless you have a clear strategy of listening to their needs and resolving their problems, you won’t generate sales.
One ‘Approach’ technique that most B2B marketers use is preparing series’ of pre-decided questions. Questioning potential customers help you know and understand their position and the key details of their needs. It also makes marketers look professional and genuine.
Use open-ended questions that lead them to share important information naturally. Don’t force them to disclose their business needs or requirements. Don’t even talk about your product/services.
Instead, ask objectionable questions regarding their current situation, why they haven’t used a similar solution before, what they expect from “ideal” solutions, etc. Learn all about their demands, expectations, and hopes about the products/services you’re offering.
Secondly, set up a Customer Relationship Management tool on your website. These tools will help you organize, categorize, and follow up with all the traffic on your business website. Using CRM software tools to follow-up with prospects and make them “ready for sales.”

4. Presentation

This stage of the sales cycle is independent of the other stages. It’s when you promote your products/services in trade shows, expositions, webinars, and other lead generation events. Use this stage of the sales cycle to communicate the qualities of your offerings. Clarify how your products/services will add value to the lives of target buyers.
• Know the goals of the organizations putting on the events. Align your presentation with their goals. That’s because their audiences will have certain expectations that you must meet.
• Mingle with the crowd before you speak to them. Know what professions they’re from, demographics, etc. Always ask event managers for more information about the audiences before the event.
• Try to make connections with the audience by being honest. Acknowledge why people are there, tell them you’re there to network and ask for five minutes of their time at your private booth or conference.
• Use simple and clear CTAs. E.g., “We’re sharing a link to our free eBook at our booth.”
• Prepare product demos. Avoid presenting them to individuals; instead, speak to groups of potential customers.
• Give away freebies.
• Schedule future conversations, be it via exchanging business cards or sharing email IDs.
• Never forget to follow up.
The main goal of this stage is to get prospects to act on your CTAs. If your presentations are well constructed, expect to generate numerous highly qualified leads at every event you visit.

5. Addressing Objections

Unfortunately, most B2B marketers aren’t experts at this step. Many sales professionals will abandon their pursuit of customers after facing only one objection or rejection. That’s what separates “good” sales professionals from the bad ones. A “good” sales professional will always win over skeptics using facts such as –
• Testimonials from previous consumers
• Case studies on the products/services
• Endorsements from notable industry professionals
• Statistics, data points, etc. about the products/services
• Product demos
• Assurances (e.g., money-back guarantee)
Never discard your target customer’s concerns or objections. Always engage their objections by describing their problem in detail. Then, make interesting arguments such as “Did you 90% of our customers bring up your price summary?” Lead them to information that rejects their objections.
Handling objections also becomes easier when your website is optimized for conversions. If your website is full of fresh, counter-intuitive information about your industry, you’re far less likely to receive strong or irrefutable customer objections.

6. Closing

Once your lead prospect is convinced with your counter-arguments, ask them to schedule calls with your sales team. It’s the most critical step of the seven-stage sales cycle. Closing is a highly complicated process in itself. It involves various steps. Here’s a brief guide on closing deals at the end of the seven-stage cycle –
Address the prospect’s pain points – Here, the individual ability of the sales professional plays a critical role. Sales professionals must be able to impress the lead by giving them good reasons to close the deal. Gain more insight into their troubles and communicate how your solution can fix those issues.
Share assuring content – Pieces of information like in-depth case studies of past success stories or industrial assessments are great for convincing skeptics. Companies with dedicated content management experts create centralized resources for all content generated by or for the company. Skeptics can easily go through this content to feel reassured about the deals they’re entering.
Adapt – During final sales calls, there are always things or topics that come up unexpectedly. Although it’s impossible for sales professionals to foresee every possible thing their target customer will or won’t say during the final sales call, it is possible for them to think on their feet and adapt to unique customer queries, complaints, or demands. Recognize potential issues the customer may have early in the call. Keep the conversation flowing.
Know your solutions – Demonstrate zero hesitation in your voice whenever you’re speaking or answering about your products. Understand every little detail/fact there is to know about your offerings. Never display a lack of confidence as it immediately puts doubt in the minds of the target customer. Also, know the limitations of your products/services. Never overpromise.
Use these strategies to close the deal. You can also offer “perks” such as three months of free service or discounts for closing the deal within a specific time limit. Creating urgency by explaining that time is of the essence also helps close deals faster. Don’t forget to ask when’s the right time to follow up after the sale is complete.

7. Follow Up

A recent study assessed 2000+ US companies and found that sales professionals who respond within an hour to emails from clients have a 700% higher rate of success. On the other hand, The Harvard Business Review also reported that the chances of lead qualification drop ten times when you take over 5 minutes to respond to a lead.
Following up with customers is vital because –
• It makes customers feel respected and valued.
• They’re likelier to engage in business again if their initial customer experience ended with a positive follow-up conversation.
• It builds stronger customer relationships and can potentially lead to more sales opportunities via word-of-mouth references.
• Following up also enhances the communication skills of sales professionals. They grow more empathy for their customers while conducting these processes.
• A good follow-up system can give your company a significant competitive advantage in the market.
That’s why many businesses now use email trackers to thank customers just for opening their emails. Once sales professionals gain the awareness and knowledge of speaking with satisfied, unsatisfied, and neutral customers – their performances will also improve.
Create Customized Sales Process Using the Seven-Stage Template
Sales are a careful combination of science and art. A strong and proven template like the seven-stage cycle will help you generate hundreds of prospects and leads. But, there are no perfect sales processes.
The seven-stage cycle is always open to modifications. You can easily implement this approach to closing sales in your organization. Tools like CRM software or automated email marketing tools will make the process easier.
But, when dealing with the human touchpoints of your sales process (e.g., speaking face to face with leads), customization and creativity are still very important.
Hopefully, this in-depth explanation of the widely used seven-stage cycle will help you launch your own customized sales process.


30 Questions to Ask on a Call During the Sales Discovery Process

30 Questions to Ask on a Call During the Sales Discovery Process 

The discovery call is the most vital phase in any B2B sales process. It’s the first call that marketers have to make after getting in touch with a prospect via email. During these calls, marketers need to determine if their products/services and their prospects match by asking the prospects a series of questions that unearth their requirements, problems, and objectives. 

For this initial step in the sales qualification process to be successful, buyers and sellers need to have collaborative conversations. Each party can benefit from building better rapport and engaging in value-driven dialogue. To create more trust with the potential buyer, the seller must share relevant insights and probe the buyer’s issues in a way that builds a strong case in favor of the purchase. 

“How to Ask Effective Questions During the Sales Discovery Process?” Here’s a list of 30 questions that top sales professionals use during the discovery phase to uncover the maximum amount of information they need to generate leads. We’ve divided these ‘conversation sparking’ questions into four categories – 

  1. Introductory questions. 
  2. Questions that qualify the prospect. 
  3. Questions that disqualify the prospect. 
  4. Questions that guide potential buyers to taking the next steps. 

Before getting started with these questions, sales professionals must – 

  • Thoroughly research the target buyer.   
  • Practice active listening. 
  • Learn how to use high-impact questions that encourage target buyers to speak more. 

Bear in mind – the point of sales discovery calls is to learn as much as possible about the customers. The following 30 questions will help sales professionals spark conversations, create trust, and guide potential buyers towards taking conclusive steps. 

1. Introductory Questions

These are the questions that help sales professionals learn more about the target customers’ specific situations. Sales professionals may already know some answers to these questions beforehand (via their research). 

So, these questions give them a chance to validate their research, understand how things work internally (at their company), and gain the insight they need to push on deeper into the sales process. 

Q1. Would you mind describing your company and what it does? 

Ask this question after introducing yourself. Don’t make it seem as if you haven’t done any prior research. Clarify the details you already know and gently ask them to build upon your account of their company. 

Q2. What is your role in the organization? 

This slightly more personal question is directed to the employee on the other line, not the company itself. Don’t draw out this question. Ask this casually to build rapport with the employee. 

Q3. What are your organizational responsibilities? 

This question is slightly less casual. It aims to quantifiably confirm whether your product/service can help the responder be better at their job. Uncover this information to get a sense of how your product can help the company’s and the employer’s goals.

2. Questions that Qualify the Prospect

Once the introductory phase is complete, it’s time to discover what problems your products/services can solve for the prospect. 

Q4. What are the key financial and operational goals of the organization within a specific time period?  

It’s time to get into the specifics. Choose a timeline and ask about what goals the company aims to meet during this timeline. For instance, if you’re selling a security tool that gives a healthy ROI within the next three months, ask about the company’s half-yearly goals. 

Q5. Do you have products or services in place that help you achieve these goals? 

This question should uncover whether they have proper plans in place to meet their organizational goals. If they already have similar tools or services that you’re offering, start preparing some points (in your mind) that position your product/service over the tools they’re already using. 

Q6. What additional tools do you need to achieve company goals? 

How urgently does the company need better tools or services to meet its short and long-term objectives? The answers to this question will help sales professionals determine whether the prospect is a “good fit.” 

Q7. What are some obstacles your company is facing while attempting to meet its goals? 

Allow the customer to bring up any issues their company may be facing. Use this query to learn more about their business challenges. 

Q8. Can these obstacles be resolved with your product or service? 

Don’t ask this question directly. Instead, keep the flow of the conversation open-ended. Allow the responder to drive the conversation toward a specific area of the business that your product or service can enhance. 

Q9. Why is your company facing these obstacles? 

Dig deeper by asking this question to uncover specific pain points that the prospect is distressed about resolving. Once you discover the sources of your prospect’s problem, creating a value-based sales pitch will become much easier. 

Q10. Why is removing these obstacles an organizational priority? 

This is a continuation of the previous question. Knowing how urgent this issue is for the prospect will help sales professionals draft better pitches later on in the conversation. 

Q11. Why are these problems still unaddressed? 

Has the target client tried removing these obstacles before? If so, why have they failed? For example, many businesses don’t have the budget to remove organizational roadblocks. In such scenarios, sales professionals can use the answer to this question to qualify/disqualify the target client instantly. 

Q12. What is their dream solution to this problem? 

Let the target client discover their ideal scenario. Even if their ideal solution doesn’t involve your product/service, use this question to learn how the prospect’s mind works when it comes to resolving important business issues. 

Q13. What do you expect from a solution? 

Discover whether your products/services can meet their ideal, long-term expectations. This set of questions will ultimately confirm whether this call will actually lead to something fruitful. Listen without motives or judgment. Then, move on to the next set of questions. 

3. Questions that Disqualify the Prospect 

Be it budget or time constraints – learn about all the factors that may disqualify the prospect from your sales goals. 

Q14. What’s stopping you from implementing a solution for your business problem? 

You’ve already asked about the roadblocks the prospect’s company is facing. Double down on this question to get very specific answers. 

Q15. What would be the ideal time to implement a solution? 

Does your product’s implementation schedule match the prospect’s time constraints? If not, you and your prospect’s business goals may not align. For example, if you’re selling a sales tool to a company that’s only focused on market research for the foreseeable future, they’re not a good fit for your product. 

Q16. Does your company have the budget to solve this issue? 

Start talking budget. Does the prospect have enough funding to invest in your project? 

Q17. Who is in charge of your company’s spending? 

Learn who or what funds the company’s annual or monthly budgets. Is it a single person (e.g., a sponsor) or the whole department?  

Q18. Who are the prospect company’s main funding managers? 

Be it a senior-level employee or a C-suite executive – it’s important to learn more about the people behind the organization’s budget.

4. Questions That Guide Potential Buyers to Taking the Next Steps

Once you’ve qualified/disqualified a prospect, it’s time to move them along the sales pipeline. This stage of questioning should be purely focused on providing solutions, explaining why your product is of value, and offering the steps that enable them to finalize the purchase. 

Q19. What are your criteria for choosing vendors? 

Learn what criteria you have to meet to take the call to senior executives. 

Q20. Have you worked with similar vendors before? 

Irrespective of the answer, establish a competitive advantage by describing why your products/services are better. 

Q21. Is there someone else you’re considering purchasing a solution from? 

Don’t sound judgmental or defensive – just learn who your competition is. 

Q22. Who makes the decision to choose vendors for the company? 

Learn about the gatekeepers of the organization. Learn how involved each senior figure of the company is in the decision-making process. 

Q23. Who creates the criteria for vendors? 

Learn what factors shaped their attitude towards working with specific vendors. 

Q24. If you purchase our products/services now, what procedure will you have to follow? 

Learn about the prospect’s typical purchasing processes to identify potential roadblocks that may pop up later on in the deal. 

Q25. Have similar deals been halted before by roadblocks? 

Understand whether any unexpected changes that may damage the deal in the future. 

Q26. How can I prevent the deal from coming to a halt? 

Be it additional resources about the product or citations from previous clients – clarify the steps you can take to ensure the deal is not halted in the future.   

Q27. How will this solution make the responder’s job easier? 

This is a rapport-building question that will make the conversation with the responder a lot easier. 

Q28. How will this solution help the company? 

Ask the responder to envision a typical day at the company after they’ve purchased your product/service. These are the details the responder will use to present your solution to the company’s chief decision-makers. 

Q29. What does the company’s long-term future look like with our solution? 

More customers? Better customer service? More brand awareness? Detail the ways in which your solution will enhance the company. 

Q30. When should I follow up? 

Close the call by scheduling another call to smooth over any remaining details. 

Measured and well-thought-out sales discovery calls can help sales professionals understand important details about their prospects’ situations. With these calls, sales professionals can – 

  • Ensure prospects understand the products/services they’re offering. Prospects can receive answers about specific product features that gauge their interest in the deal. 
  • Sales professionals can give the impression that they understand the prospect’s problems. Successful sales discovery calls aren’t focused on getting the clients’ money – they aim to prove that the seller is invested in the buyer’s commercial objectives. 
  • Most importantly, discovery calls give sales professionals the chance to ‘qualify’ each potential client. Sales pros can tell from the prospect’s attitude towards the call whether they’re interested in purchasing the product/service they’re offering. 

The list of benefits goes on. Optimizing these benefits will become much easier for sales professionals if they follow this 30-step template.  


2021 Marketing Strategies for Software Companies

The CMO’s Guide to Creating Efficient Marketing Strategies for Software Companies

The software development industry is one of the most competitive markets in the world. Without proper marketing and sales development strategies, it’s impossible for software development projects to get off the ground. These strategies need to be focused on building visibility, improve the software company’s search presence, and creating valuable content for target consumers.

The target customers are out there – searching for solutions, benefits, and great deals. Software development companies need to reach out to them by building solid inbound pipelines. Creating comprehensive digital marketing strategies is the only way to increase the volume of leads these companies receive.

In this article, we’ll explore the best marketing strategies for software development companies. Here are the key elements of an efficient marketing strategy that we’ll cover in this article –

  • Sales Prospecting
  • Content Creation
  • Website Optimization
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Product Testing and Free Trials

Sales Prospecting

Sales prospecting is the process of defining and finding potential buyers and clients, i.e., prospects. This is the first step that software development companies should take after launching their products. Reach out to as many target customers as possible, with the aim of registering them into long-term sales funnels.

Sales Prospecting for Software Development Companies – Key Points to Remember

  • Identify everyone who can benefit from the software that you’re offering. The long-term aim is to convert these prospects into customers.
  • Assess what needs, and pain points your software is addressing; share this information with your customers or brand partners.
  • Software clients are always looking to hear from software development companies, especially when they’re looking for products that help them improve their business. Inform them how the software will benefit their business. The more detailed this explanation, the higher the chances of lead generation.
  • Most consumers and decision-makers at companies prefer email communication. Use short, personalized, and to-the-point emails to share important product-related information.
  • Timing is critical for creating successful sales prospecting strategies. Assess your target audiences’ budgets, future plans, etc. Strike when the iron’s hot. For example, if a target company has recently secured a lot of funding, design your prospecting funnel around their commercial plans. Tell them how, why, and how quickly your software will benefit their long-term objectives.
  • Software buyers like knowing who they’re talking to before they initiate sales-related conversations. Make sure the software development company’s website and LinkedIn profile are optimized for visits from target buyers.

These are the prospecting basics every software development company should follow while launching its marketing programs. Define your target customers, reach out to them with personalized content, track your rejections/approvals, and make prospecting a habit. The more you follow up with potential prospects, the higher your chances of generating sales.

Content Creation

Investing in content creation allows software development companies to educate their customers about important topics and product-related details. More importantly, it allows these companies to gain search engine authority. To get the best of these benefits, software development companies need to create two types of content –

Landing Pages

These web pages are purely for SEO purposes. They should feature full of multiple relevant keywords and “Contact Us” forms. For example, if the core function of your software product is helping small businesses find the best wholesale deals on the internet, your landing page should be titled “Price Optimization Software for Small Businesses.”

Any leads who search for that term will be redirected to this landing page. Search engine leads are highly valuable for software development companies as they have extremely high close rates.

Supplementary Content

The aim of this content is not to bring search engine authority to the software development company’s website. It’s not to talk about the company’s software products either. It’s meant to provide customers of this industry with unique insights and relevant information.

Surprisingly, companies that share this type of content via blog posts rank much higher than companies that don’t have valuable information to share with target customers. Thus, creating supplementary content is part of every successful SEO strategy. It’s the easiest way for software development companies to demonstrate a sense of authority among target audiences.

  • Use longer keywords that are related to the core keywords.
  • Discuss the most frequently asked buyer questions in blog posts.
  • Respond to client queries, claims, and complaints.
  • Share relevant industry-related information, even if it doesn’t directly concern your company or your product.
  • Integrate images, videos, quizzes, infographics, etc., into your content strategy. For example, create “How To” videos explaining the key features of the software.
  • Provide links to your landing pages in the supplementary content.
  • Encourage members of the workforce to write helpful third-party articles. For example, your team’s chief software developer can write an article entitled “5 challenges every software developer will face in 2021.”
  • Provide links to other websites that feature relevant or important information. Bear in mind – the primary aim of supplementary content is consumer education. So, if there are articles that you feel will benefit your target consumers, don’t refrain from sharing them.
  • Ask third-party outlets to publish similar content under your company name. Publishing branded content helps software development companies get in touch with people who are not familiar with the brand.

Website Optimization

Software development companies should have highly functional and easy-to-use websites. No customer will trust a software development company with a low-quality website. The company website should also be optimized for search engine websites. It should be the first result whenever target customers search for services or products your company offers.

  • Add calls to action (CTAs) on all web pages. For example, every webpage should have a ‘Buy Now’ option. Users should be able to navigate quickly to conversion pages as soon as they open the website.
  • Customize the content on all web pages, making it more sales-focused. If needed, use infographics and videos that inspire website visitors to take action.
  • Make sure no page on the site has broken/unresponsive links.
  • Don’t describe product features – provide strong value propositions instead. Describe how the different features of your software will benefit the consumer.

Conduct thorough SEO research every week. The way the average search engine user behaves changes all the time. SEO is a never-ending effort. A software development company’s website can’t ever be perfectly optimized. Keep assessing the website’s analytics. Repeat the elements of your SEO strategy that are working. Improve the ones that aren’t.

Social Media Marketing

It’s very easy to gain initial traction via social media channels. During sales prospecting, the company should identify its key targets. Then, by posting content regularly, software development companies can establish direct lines of communication with target audiences.

  • Post regularly using automated social media posting tools.
  • Identify key influencers in your niche. Partner with them and attempt to engage with their followers.
  • Use hashtags to gain access to different communities on social media websites. For example, if you’re launching a data management software tool, use hashtags like #bigdata or #datamining on Twitter. You’ll quickly get noticed by other major players in this niche.
  • Ask employees to respond to user queries. Ask them to open accounts on all major social media platforms. Inform them that respectable behavior on these platforms is mandatory as they’re representing the brand on these platforms.
  • Use paid ads to inform more people about the company and its core products. Facebook ads, Google ads, and LinkedIn ads are the most effective for software development companies.
  • Include links to company websites on every social media post.

Software development companies can rapidly increase their target customer base by spending as little as two hours a day on social media platforms. Identify the types of posts and content that work the best on each social media platform. Analyze the results every week or at the end of each social media campaign. How many leads did the social media efforts generate? Set higher targets with each post.

Product Testing and Free Trials

Software buyers love nothing more than free trials. They don’t want to waste their money on substandard software tools. That’s why software development companies that are confident about their products should never shy away from providing free trials. An even better way of showcasing your software’s best features is by asking third-party reviewers to test your product for free.

  • Tell video creators and influencers in your niche to review your product.
  • Ask them to share their unbiased opinions about the software.
  • Ask them to compare the software to similar products. This type of information will empower your target audiences to make rational purchase decisions.
  • Provide free trials of 7 days (or more) to the viewers of the content creators reviewing your product. If possible, give them access to premium features of the software at discounted prices.

If the test results and the reviews are positive, encourage interested consumers to sign up for free email courses. Free email courses will attract more subscribers to the company’s website. From there, the company can work towards converting these subscribers into loyal customers.

Once these marketing efforts start generating leads, nurture them into customers. Keep engaging with each customer. Software development projects can only be successful if the company continually builds new relationships with potential customers.