Shortening the sales cycle can lead to an improvement in sales productivity. The shorter your sales cycle is, the more prospects you will be able to reach. On the other hand, shortening the sales cycle can be a monumental task, which may have to begin with reassessing your entire sales strategy.
1. Define Your Sales Strategies
In an article for Salesforce blog, Jason Jordan describes the importance of creating common definitions for sales terms. Until your team members are all operating under the same expectations, it will be difficult to make these procedures more efficient. Do all your people have the same definitions for company-wide sales processes? You may be surprised. Jordan describes an experience at one firm where two sales managers had vastly different pipelines because they had different opinions of what types of leads should be entered into them. These kinds of discrepancies can lead to confusion among sales teams. Neither method was wrong, but the inconsistency was causing problems. Make sure all your sales reps define and qualify leads the same way.
2. Eliminate the Junk
Most sales reps talk about qualifying leads, according to Tibor Shanto in a Salesforce blog. However, when you’re trying to whittle down your sales cycle, what you really need to work on is disqualifying leads. It’s often more efficient to focus on eliminating the prospects that aren’t going to convert so you can focus on the ones that will. This may require more work as well. While you’re defining a consistent sales strategy, also think about a procedure for getting rid of weak leads. As Shanto puts it, if you mistakenly eliminate a good lead, you will always be able to give them a second try. Your time, however, is a precious resource that you can’t get back.
3. Define Objectives
Shanto also notes that businesses are quick to pounce on solutions that help them avoid negative consequences or situations. While many sales reps pitch “solutions” this very term implies a problem that buyers probably don’t want to think about. The best way to demonstrate your product or service’s ability to solve this problem is to provide a measurable objective that you can help them meet. Rather than telling your prospect you can solve X issue for them, avoid mentioning the problem entirely. Instead, tell them you will deliver X objective. Put it in positive terms. In order to do so, however, you’ll have to do a fair amount of customer research. Determine the prospect’s needs and what their market looks like. Making it easy for prospects to say “yes” shortens the sales cycle.
4. Aim High
Aiming your pitch at decision-makers can cut some time off of the sales cycle if done correctly. Most sales reps tend to play it safe by calling someone at a lower level and getting the message passed up to higher management slowly. However, since these individuals don’t actually have the buying power, negotiating with them is often a waste of time. In Inc., Mark Suster suggests that reps aim even higher than the decision-maker. Instead of reaching a project manager, aim for the CEO or CTO. They will likely inform you that they aren’t involved in the decision, and will pass the query down to the person who is. However, the high level executive will probably have the power to prioritize the project. On the other hand, these individuals will also be able to shoot down the project immediately, allowing you to disqualify them as a lead. On top of these benefits, starting high can help you start to develop a relationship with the company. Before making the call, learn as much as you can using customer intelligence so you know how to make your pitch in a way that will make them respond.