SEO and the Long B2B Sales Cycle

Written by Nick Stamoulis

SEO and the Long B2B Sales CycleOne of the biggest differentiators between B2C marketing and B2B marketing is understanding the nature of the sales cycle. Many B2C marketing campaigns are developed for the short term, generating quick sales from a promotion. In the B2B world, it’s often more complicated. That’s because the sales cycle is so much longer. A B2B product or service is going to affect a business operation, which means that the decision needs to be the right one.

Decision makers will spend a lot of time reviewing their options before spending any portion of their budget on a product or service. In some instances, research begins way before budget approval is even given. The sales cycle begins before a business is even financially ready to buy.

The nature of an SEO program is already long term for all types of businesses, both B2C and B2B. When we sign on a client in any industry we try our best to explain this. There might not be much movement within the first few months, or even within the first year in a competitive niche. Adding in the long-term sales cycle in the B2B industry, SEO success can seem like it takes that much longer to come. However, just because a company isn’t seeing the bottom line improve during the first year or so of an SEO campaign, it doesn’t mean that the SEO campaign isn’t making an impact.

A quality SEO campaign will translate into sales, it just might not be on the timeline that you hope for. Obviously we all want to see a jump in sales quickly, but given the nature of SEO and the B2B sales cycle it usually just isn’t in the cards. Having realistic expectations and understanding this from the start is important. A B2B SEO client needs to keep in mind how long it can take to close a sale. SEO may generate visitors to your site in April, but it might not be until the following January when budget approval has been given for the New Year that the prospect even fills out a lead form.

It’s impossible to put a timeframe on when an SEO program will translate into sales. Every company is different. But generally we tell B2B SEO clients to give the program at least a year. After year one you can start to compare sales figures year over year. Although it’s also important to consider is potential sales figures. Maybe the deal isn’t done yet, but what do you have in your pipeline? How many more leads have you received year over year? Maybe the sales team has lots of good leads that they are working with but just haven’t closed the sale yet. Remember, SEO works to build website visitors and improve leads. In the end it is still up to your sales team to close the deal.

The long-term nature of SEO can be frustrating, but we can’t change that. If you want to be successful with SEO slow and steady wins the race every time.

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