During a recent conversation with a CEO group, we spent a majority of our time focused on how to shorten the selling cycle. A common practice within these growing companies is their ability to close new business.
However, the one piece of the puzzle that keeps them from obtaining even more market share and helping additional people is the length of their sales cycle. Another crippling effect from "longer-than-should-be" sales cycles is this response from their salespeople: "I’m too busy to prospect and or close additional business." Why? Because their sales cycle longer than it should be.
There are several key ingredients that go into shortening your sales cycle, here are a few:
- Referrals. Get them and get a lot of them. I’m talking about solid referrals, not what most salespeople get (call them and use my name….this is not a referral). By receiving a true referral you have already progressed the sale along. Warning: this does not give you the right to cut steps out of your process. It will just speed it up.
- Understand why they would buy from you. Too many times salespeople tell prospects why they should buy from them instead of having the prospect tell them. You will quickly realize how much faster opportunities move along when it is their idea not yours.
- Shorten your own buy cycle. If you are a person who shops on price, likes to compare, do research and think it over for a period of time you are going to accept these put-offs from your prospects. It’s amazing how some salespeople don’t get out of the way during the sales process and unconsciously extend the cycle.
- Have clear next steps. The key word here is "clear." Too many salespeople think they have clear next steps but they don’t. Example: "I have a clear next step - I am supposed to send a quote, then follow up in a week." That is NOT a clear next step. Now the salesperson spends 1-2 weeks chasing this person down trying to get them on the phone. Take this scenario and multiply it by every other opportunity a sales rep is working on and look at the amount of time spent just in the “Follow up” phase. Strong salespeople don’t have follow up, they have clear next steps.
Next time you or your company is looking to have more time to generate new business take a look at the length of your sales cycle and why it is happening. You might be surprised how easy it can be to get decisions quicker.