When it takes 1 week instead of 2 to acquire a client a salesperson can run about 2 times more deals in a year.
Each additional day of sales cycle eats your company’s money, time, and resources. Shortening that period results in generating bigger revenues and eliminating waste at the same time.The length of your sales cycle is highly influenced by how optimized the sales processes at your company are. It boils down to working smart not hard and showing your lead he has a problem which you can solve.
Measure your sales
Theoretically measuring sales without CRM is possible. Only theoretically. In reality in some scale sales management without CRM is based on intuition. Intuition is experiment, data is a proof. Where money and emotions appear it becomes very difficult to be objective. The more leads you have, the more data about them you need to gather. Whatever you want to improve, at first you should measure it. Before you begin shortening your sales cycle measure how long it actually is now.
With data you will quickly find out that the bigger company, the longer you wait for a decision. If hard numbers show you company from an X industry usually asks about Y – so then you will include Y to an offer each time you speak with those companies.
Your company will be able to process leads faster once particular people are responsible for each stage of a sales process. Only skilled salespeople can convincingly present how to solve client’s problems and know how to deal with difficult objections. That’s why they cannot spend their time on prospecting, lead generation, and demo meetings with unqualified leads (how to qualify leads efficiently you can check in these articles: How to prioritize leads and How not to waste the best sales opportunieties).
Salespeople who focus on the most challenging stages of the sales funnel can react to challenging objections quickly only when their teammates take care of earlier stages. If you want to shorten your sales cycle designate sales support/prospecting / pre-sales specialists. If each person specializes in particular responsibilities then, with time, he or she will perform them better and quicker.
Caring of how quickly you process leads is a good habit however not each lead is worth the same attention. Prioritise the most important leads and don’t process those which aren’t a good fit for your company. Only then you will have more time to focus on the most promising sales opportunities and start your day with them. Therefore, they should close faster – and more frequently.
Standardize and automate
Complex processes require time and human touch but there are always aspects which can be automated – which means they don’t have to be prepared from the scratch over and over again.
If your offer is always customized, consider whether you can present it as standardized packages, for example: small, medium, and large. For some group of clients it will be enough to get an approximate price range for the service.They will receive it immediately and the offer can be customized by for instance adding two hours of consultations to the medium package. Of course, there always will be clients when a totally customized offer will be the best option. Then prepare the offer from the beginning.
Not each e-mail has to be written from the scratch. Messages like follow-ups, summaries, answers to common objections can be based on templates. Templates customized according to clients needs. Then leads don’t have to wait for answers and your team has more time for activities which cannot be automated.
Some aspects of sales process can be accelerated by technology. Scheduling meetings take less time when instead of exchanging a couple of e-mails you use tools like calendly, appointly or YouCanBookMe. Agreements can be signed via HelloSign. If a potential client wants to check the agreement and add his suggestions send him editable version in Google Docs. Remember that the best moment for sending a version “ready to sign” is when both you and the client agreed on terms.
Explore client’s needs
The more precisely you understand client’s needs, the easier communication with him will be. Consider what is more interesting for him: long text which describes features of your product or just a few sentences which highlight the most important (from his point of view) effects of implementing your solution? The feeling that he speaks with someone who can solve his problems motivates him to smooth communication.
Take care of next steps
Guessing what is going to happen next few days is a waste of time. At the end of each one make sure next steps are clear for everyone – this is always your responsibility.
What needs to happen before you make the decision of choosing a new solution?
I understand that you need time to discuss [a solution to a problem which they are trying to solve]. Can call you in 2 days to ask about your thoughts?
Explore client’s decision-making process
Often decision-making processes are complex – one person speaks to you, another one makes a final decision, the next one checks whether your offer meets client’s legal policy and what’s more your solution will be used by someone else.
Planning a conversation with your potential customer will be far easier with knowledge about what steps (and when) need to be taken on client’s side. That saves time, yours and customers, which otherwise you would spend on sending reminders with questions “do we already have the decision?”. If, for example, a decision-making process includes a legal department, you will know when questions from client’s lawyers may appear.
Once you cannot speak with a decision maker, remember your solution will be presented by the second side you are talking with. Make whatever it takes to enable him drawing the right picture of your solution. It enables processing things quickly. Feel free to ask: “I’d like to make sure that you will have every information you need to commit to a decision. Please tell with whom you have to discuss our product and what kind of data that person may need?”. Then an entire conversation will be faster and more efficient.
Eliminate bottlenecks on your side
Sometimes the sales cycle is longer than it should be because of decision-making processes on your side. Some questions which salespeople hear from clients require a third party opinion. For example, sometimes salespeople have to discuss client’s legal objections with the Administration Department. When waiting for its feedback takes forever – you have to react. Consider whether handling the most common legal objections should be up to salespeople or maybe the Administration Department needs more employees to address sales questions faster?
Sometimes savings money perspective can motivate to make a decision earlier. During the negotiation you can use arguments like discount “-10% until the end of the month” or Black Friday.
Making sales processes at your company more efficient will result in the shorter sales cycle. Shortening sales processes and adjusting them to client’s needs and his business reality is a must when you want to acquire new clients faster, cheaper, and without long periods of uncertainty.