Sales cycles, pipelines and productivity
Let’s face it—sales cycles that drag out are a drag – ask any sales person, and business owner for that matter. So the goal has to be to shorten the sales cycles, bring buyers through the sales pipeline or funnel quickly and close deals with the least amount of wasted time and resources. Detailed below are the dirty (half) dozen – 6 essential tips for anyone involved in sales who wants to minimize the time it takes to get suspects to prospects (or leads) to clients, customers or buyers i.e. shorten the sales cycles!
1. Qualify your leads. One of the main reasons sales cycles take too long is on account of unqualified leads. These are prospects who usually don’t really need your products and services, however, you’re trying to convince them that they do. My advice is simply not to waste your time. If they don’t have the desire or need a problem solved, then you can’t provide them with a product or solution, so cut your losses and move on!
2. Create a value proposition. Your qualified leads need to know why you are the solution to their problem. What are your unique selling points (USPs) or your key differentiators? Why are you the preferred choice for them? What’s in it for them? What are the benefits? Too many times, those in sales and marketing focus on features rather than benefits and this drives me mad as it’s so short sighted!
3. Quickly remove barriers and be prepared for the objections. Objections are the obstacles that many prospects throw up to protect themselves from taking the risks they’re not comfortable with. The faster you can remove these objections, the sooner you can make the sale and shorten the sales cycles. Be prepared for them prior. Then, listen to them, deal with the issues and follow through promptly.
4. Build confidence and trust. Odds are, your prospects or leads have researched other companies before coming to you. So as people only ever buy from people they know, like and trust, ask yourself why should they trust you? Whether their investment is small or large they want to know that they will get a good return. Provide them with testimonials, case studies, success stories, references and referrals. Give them solid examples of how you’ve helped others. Ideally have this on your website so they’re familiar with it before having a meeting or conversation.
5. Talk to the decision maker. This point could come under qualification, but I’ve given it a separate bullet point as it’s quite important. Ask yourself, does your prospect have the authority to make a decision to purchase? Do they have the budget to make a purchase? Getting to the decision-maker as quickly as possible saves a lot of time, so determine who is the appropriate person and make contact. Know who your sponsors are too and who the objectors are and then you’ll shorten your sales cycles.
6. Follow through. There’s a saying amongst sales people that the money is in the follow-up so don’t leave your prospects hanging! Once you have them interested in your offering, follow through with a phone call, email or these days even a social media message! Don’t fall at the final hurdle and don’t stop until the sale is closed. I’m counting on you now to shorten those sales cycles!
Selling is a tenacious, creative business. Let me know how you’ve got on with it. Do you feel you have control over the entire process? Are there any areas you’re uncomfortable with? Please share your experiences and feedback on ways to shorten sales cycles in the comments below as I’d love to hear. Finally thank you, as always for reading and contributing here. If you found this useful, please share it with your friends.
With love and gratitude – as always,
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