One question I invariably get almost anytime I speak is on the topic of shortening the sales cycle. This was the case when I presented last month at MaRS on B2B Sales. It is not just my presentations where it comes up, but shortening the sales cycle is top of mind for many entrepreneurs.
Here are some tips that could help shorten, but also understand the sales cycle:
What is the decision making process for that customer?
This is one of the biggest areas for improvement for entrepreneurs as part of the sales process. They find that their contact really likes their product or service, but they don’t know what is holding up the sale. It is almost equally important to understand what are the steps and people involved in the decision making process. These will not always be apparent.
Sell the Quantifiable Benefits
By showcasing quantifiable benefits for your customer they can better understand the impact on their business. You should be helping them increase revenue, decrease cost/expense, improving productivity, or avoiding something bad. Something bad could include things like bad PR or employee safety. Armed with quantifiable benefits you can help people internally understand the return on investment for your solution.
Target the Right Customers
Prospects and their decision makers can make different decisions based on the same set of information. Some targets are early adopters and some are laggards. If you are selling a new solution seek the early adopters. You can get glimpses of what type of company they may be by looking at other decisions that they have made. Are the known as an industry leader? Have the bought/used other types of new technology?
Engage High Within an Account
Try to get to the decision maker as soon as possible. If they understand the benefit and are onboard, it can, in some cases, make the sale go significantly faster.
Is Your Solution Part of a Bigger System or Decision?
The solution you are selling may be part of a bigger decision. For example, we have one client that has a solution that connects to a specific system. One of their largest prospects has delayed their engagement until it gets the other system in place. There is not much that you can do in this situation other than understanding what is going on within the account. You may also refine your prospecting to target companies that have the right complimentary processes or systems in place to make your successful.
Use a CRM
As you gain insight into the account and their processes, make sure you are recording it within a CRM. This will help with account management and ensuring that your future activities are planned out so you don’t miss important dates and milestones for the opportunity.
Understand that Sales Cycles can be Long
Unfortunately for some prospects, industries, your solution mat have a long sale cycle. There may be nothing you can do to change it. You need to understand the cycle and plan for the long close times. Many large organizations including financial and government institutions have onerous purchasing processes and nothing you can do can speed that up.
If you are looking for some help please download our free startup sales white paper.