A perfect sales cycle has to be reasonably predictable. But given the huge number of variables involved in each sale, it would be almost impossible to have a completely predictable sales cycle.
A long sales cycle means that your salespeople are engaging fewer clients per unit time and that there is wastage of organizational resources that could be employed more effectively elsewhere.
This also means that there are important leads that your sales team is unable to get to since they are chasing all leads.
Longer sales cycle also hinders the organizational ability to accurately forecast revenues and performance, which is crucial to the organizational strategy.
So ensuring a short sales cycle should be a top priority for your sales teams. Some industries have naturally longer sales cycles such as real estate, automobiles, and B2B industries.
Here are the ten smart ways you can speed up your sales cycle:
1. Analyze your sales cycle
The first step for any sales team is to measure the sales cycle. Some organizations overlook the importance of data collection and analysis, which is a costly mistake.
Organizations should always measure the individual steps of the entire sales cycle, as well as the overall cycle.
Salespeople should be taught the importance of these steps, and ensure that they are incorporated in the organizational culture.
This step also helps in identifying areas that might be costing the most opportunities, and those which are the roadblocks.
The next step, of course, is to ensure that these impediments are eliminated from your sales cycle.
2. Quality wins over quantity
When organizations run marketing campaigns, even generic ones, they can attract a high number of leads for various reasons.
These kinds of low-quality leads can hold up your sales cycle unnecessarily, further wasting time and resources.
That is why the focus of campaigns should be to gather high-quality leads that have a high probability of converting to closed deals.
For example, how interested the leads are in the particular product/ service being offered, rather than being generally curious.
There are a lot of reasons why people share their contact numbers, so it is important to understand that not all leads are equally relevant.
3. Prioritize your channels effectively
Organizations have multiple channels to bring in the leads, depending on their strategy, audience, etc.
These days, companies usually have their own landing pages, CTAs on blog posts, social media posts, interactions, brand campaigns, public relations, emailers, and more to reach their audience.
As mentioned in the first step, it would be very helpful to start with the overall sales cycle analysis.
This includes ensuring that all the channels that the organization is employing are fully utilized and that they are as efficient as possible.
Each channel should be individually studied to identify the most successful ones and prioritize them over the not-so-successful ones.
You can further scale your marketing channels to ensure that you are dedicating greater resources to the ones bringing in the maximum returns.
4. Win as a team
Sales is a team sport, especially as they increase in size and scope of the deal.
Such deals are not only about the overall product/ service, but prospective buyers would also be interested in the value delivered through additional details such as product customization, design features, your salesperson’s responsiveness, punctuality, etc.
Any of these may be a priority for them.
It would help your organization’s sales cycle immensely to have distinct communication channels for separate deals where all the employees working on a particular project can join and contribute as per their role.
This will help the client get a complete picture of your value delivery, and help speed up the sales cycle.
5. Lead scoring
Not all leads are equal. Sales leaders are those who can correctly identify priorities from the perspective of achieving overall company goals.
To prioritize leads that are gathered, each lead has to be evaluated in detail.
Based on various factors such as the relevance, age, interest range, etc. of each lead, they can be evaluated and measured, so there is no unnecessary expenditure of organizational resources on them.
This process is also a basis for our first tip: constant analysis can help you improve continuously.
6. Automate what you can
Some of the most popular CRM software for sales these days include at least some automation features.
Make sure that your sales teams understand these features, and how they can be used to speed up repetitive tasks.
The idea is to remove unnecessary effort wherever possible.
This way, your sales teams can focus more on high-value tasks such as building long-term customer relationships, rather than keep doing repetitive tasks.
You can start off with company research or data entry, before exploring automation further.
7. Always be responsive
In a defined sales cycle, there should be an established turnaround time for each step of the process. To close faster, the responsibility is on you to respond faster to every communication.
When you get leads who have opted in for your content, they should hear from you quickly before they lose interest.
A study by LeadDirect demonstrated that almost 78 percent of customers make their purchase from the first company that responds.
Another study by Harvard showed that companies that respond within the first 60 minutes are seven times more likely to win the sale!
8. Personalize your approach
Generic pitches where you extol the virtues of your own product or company may get the job done, but here is something to help you become more effective: listen to the customer.
When your prospects feel heard and understood, you have their attention. This level of trust is the first fundamental lesson in sales.
If the customer feels that you understand their problem, they will trust you with finding a solution.
Using their first names in communication, always building on previous conversations, sharing information relevant to the customers, etc. are all good ways to win their trust and accelerate the sales cycle.
9. Objections are welcome
There is no benefit to running away from objections that your prospects may have.
In fact, the longer you delay in responding to those objections, the more time you may be wasting on a lead that will probably go nowhere.
Make it a point to welcome objections from prospects.
Prepare your sales teams for common objections that you can expect from leads who are not entirely convinced about any of the sales aspects.
With preparation, these objections can be answered, and hopefully, move the lead ahead in the sales cycle. If not, you would have minimized the effort wasted on the lead.
10. Perfect your closing process
Sales is not always a straightforward process where decisions and events happen in a linear fashion.
In most cases, there are multiple decision-makers involved, and therefore can have multiple levels before it can be closed.
Organizations that want to accelerate their sales cycle have to perfect their closing process so it is as easy to accomplish as possible.
Make sure that the billing, paperwork, communication channels, etc. are all aligned to help your prospects close the deal in a seamless, hassle-free manner.
Sales teams can be very effective, but they have to be efficient too.
Understanding the sales cycle is a fundamental step to maximizing efficiency individually, as well as a team.
It directly impacts operational efficiency, sales yield, revenues, and even the morale and motivation of the employees.
Try to be as methodical as you can in approaching the sales process, to ensure that there will be a constant acceleration in your sales cycle.
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Mihir Shah is CEO and Founder of Yatharth Marketing Solution, the group specialized in offering personalized sales training programs to corporates worldwide. He is able to draw several years of experience imparting to management, sales, and corporate training serving wide industries. Mihir has assisted companies to grow incomes and enhance customer satisfaction scores as well as assisting managers, leaders, and directors to enhance the performance of their team with training.