According to a recent study1, "Lengthening sales cycles are the #1 sales concern, by a 41% margin over all other pressures." Sales cycles are lengthening beyond what’s expected, making it almost impossible to consistently deliver predictable revenue for businesses and resulting in several other sales related issues including dropped leads, fewer opportunities, missed quotas, and lost revenue. The survey discovered that “best-in-class sales organizations have a 16% shorter average sales cycle than typical (under-performing) companies.”
So the question becomes one of ways to shorten the sales cycle; well here are three ways you may want to consider:
Sales Information Content - Historically, sales representatives used the power of persuasion to convince prospects to make purchases. Part of this 'power of persuasion' was the ability to convince buyers that your product was better than “the other guy’s product.” But today, in this world of internet information, most buyers do their own research before making a purchase decision. In many instances the decision is made before even contacting your company. As a result, efforts to shorten your sales cycle must involve providing not only your sales and marketing teams, but your potential customers via the internet, with the best content on your products and/or services to achieve optimum sales results.
Technological Integration - Top sales organizations integrate their CRM with Marketing Automation and other Business Solutions to collect accurate prospect and buyer data. They also leverage this data to measure the effectiveness of all of their sales efforts so they can replicate desirable results, and make adjustments to improve unsatisfactory outcomes.
The integration of these technological systems also helps to document and develop optimal sales processes, which can then be scaled across all your sales and marketing efforts. By streamlining and then automating these processes, marketers can market more effectively, and sales representatives can sell more effectively.
The Personal Approach - The business sales environment has evolved substantially in just the last few years, and today a buyer’s expectations are at an all-time high. Sales representatives must deliver more personalized and convincing information to their prospects, and deliver this information in the ways that these prospects prefer. Top sales organizations tend to make use of buyer behavioral data to develop more buyer-centric communication strategies. This allows them to reach out to prospects by the buyer’s preferred methodology whether that be telephone, email, text message, voice mail, social media channel, or even the ‘good old fax’ machine (yes some of your potential customers may still use the ‘fax’ function of their multi-function printers.)
Personalization of the information you provide to your prospective customers plays a huge role in differentiating your business from that of your competitors. No matter what you sell, an ever increasing number of brands are filling the market with content and many prospects are at the same time becoming overwhelmed with information in any number of formats, from website pop-up messages, to formal advertising in trade journals, to mass email campaigns, and the old ‘cold calls’ made from purchased marketing lists.
In order for your message to be heard, you need to find the right way to communicate directly with your prospect, and when you get that opportunity, you must make a lasting impression that puts your own brand above all others.
1 - "What's in your sales cycle? Best-in-class Paths to Reducing Stalled Pipelines", Peter Ostrow, Vice President of Sales Effectiveness & Strategy, Aberdeen Group, Boston, MA.