Could your sales cycle be costing you money?

3 ways to make your sales cycle efficient

Why use a sales cycle by Jane FranklandRecently I had someone ask me, how do you know when a prospect is good or bad and it got me thinking about the sales funnel, pipeline, sales cycle and marketing. What comes first and I’m not talking about the chicken or the egg! I’m talking about sales or marketing? For most people they’ll tell you marketing, but anyone who’s started a business from the ground up will tell you that it’s sales. And an understanding of sales and specifically the sales cycle is essential for marketing success. Why? Well, anyone selling goods and services—whether online or offline in person—needs to go through a process by which a lead becomes a sale, and a prospect becomes a customers.  This process is the sales cycle, and it’s the way that businesses both attain and retain customers.

Let’s say you’re a designer, or a photographer, or a coach and you’ve optimized it for your ideal customer or prospect, and your ideal customer comes to visit.  This prospect reads your content and decides to opt-in to your email newsletter, or download your offer.  They have just become a lead.

As a lead, your prospect is now just inside your sales funnel or pipeline—that place where they become purchasing customers.  You need to engage with your prospect, nurture them, and get them to refer others to you.  Paying attention to your prospect at each stage of the sales cycle helps to ensure that they get all the way through the funnel/pipe.

The process goes something like this:

  • Prospect for leads (find your ideal customer)
  • Contact and qualify (contact the lead by call, email, letter or in person to determine if they are likely to be interested)
  • Present the offer (sell your company—in person, through the site, in print)
  • Address objections (break down barriers to the sale, address pain points and challenges)
  • Ask for the sale (after the presentation and elimination of barriers, close the deal)
  • Follow up (offer a survey, service the account, ask for referrals)

How long does the sales cycle take?  Well there is no one right answer.  The truth of the matter is the sales cycle can take days, weeks, months or even years.  It all depends on what you’re selling, the industry, how many people are involved, the complexity of the sale, market conditions, the efficiency of your process, etc.

The goal of every company is to shorten the cycle, to close business as quickly as possible in order to maximize profits.  The efficiency of your sales cycle is a testament to how well you convert leads into sales, which of course translates into a healthier bottom line.  So, here are some tips to help you do this:

1. Pursue only qualified leads
Chasing after prospects that aren’t interested in you is a huge waste of time and resources.  If they don’t have the problem for which you are the solution, and then the money to invest in it in order to solve it, then it’s time to move on.

2. Remove barriers to enter promptly
Prospects sometimes put up barriers to enter, to change or solve the problem.  The reasons for this are varied but often it stems from fear of the unknown, which in this case is you and your solution.  If your prospect has an identified need for your products and services, you must remove their resistance and put them at ease.  If you do this early in the sales cycle you will shorten the time it takes to make the sale. The easiest way to do this is by offering guarantees.

3. Highlight and demonstrate value and make it measurable
Prospects must see the value in what you’re offering and they must be able to measure it.  How will your product or service improve their business or even their life?  By what percentage can they expect to see an increase in efficiency/sales/profits?  If you can’t answer these questions, the cycle will lengthen or simply fail.

The sales cycle is an endless loop of engagement, by which you identify interested potential customers and nurture them through the sales cycle process.  Efficiently and effectively guide your prospects and existing customers through each stage of the sales cycle sale and you’ll see a massive improvement on your marketing. Remember too, to stay positive throughout. Always listen, ask questions and address each and every concern your prospect or existing customer has. If you provide value and demonstrate that you care about your prospect or existing customer, your sales cycle will become the avenue to better profits and you’ll benefit from a healthier bottom line.

So I wish you well with this. Please let me know what has worked for you in terms of qualifying your prospects and shortening your sales cycle. Please share your experiences and feedback 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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JaneFrankland

Jane Frankland is a successful cyber security entrepreneur, consultant and speaker who has had a diverse career encompassing art and design; business development; and operations. Having held directorships and senior executive positions within her own companies and at several large PLCs, she now provides agile, forward thinking organisations with strategic business development solutions. Right now she is writing a book on gender diversity in cyber security and is focused on increasing the numbers of women in the profession.

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