Shorten Your Sales Cycle
In sales, time is money. The more quickly you can close the right deals with the right clients – or kick unqualified leads out of your pipeline – the more successful you and your sales team will become. Sales velocity – how many deals you close in a month, quarter, or year – matters as much as, if not more than, individual wins.
And it’s easier for salespeople to influence velocity than deal size. Why? Because it is surprisingly often the salesperson who is slowing things down. No matter how many times they blame other circumstances and people.
10 Tips Accelerate the Sales Process
Here are 10 tips from business sales training experts that you can put into practice today to shorten your sales cycle:
- Look for Reasons to DIS-qualify
When qualifying prospects, look for evidence suggesting that they are not a good fit or real buyer. The reason: A psychological phenomenon known as “confirmation bias.”
Once we form an initial hypothesis about a prospect – “This person might be a buyer” – our brains look for evidence that confirms the hypothesis and ignore evidence that contradicts it. As a result, prospects look more promising than they actually are. So, you are apt to waste a lot of time on nonqualified prospects that do not fit our ideal target client profile and later wonder why you didn’t see the warning signs earlier.
Ask yourself, “What are the reasons this prospect might not buy from me?”
- Prune Your Pipeline
Salespeople love a well-stocked pipeline, but beware. A pipeline clogged with marginal opportunities consumes valuable selling time and keeps you from focusing on real opportunities that make sense for your unique value proposition. In fact, one sales management training study found that sales reps with a leaner and more rigorously qualified pipeline made 50% more on average than those with a bloated pipeline.
- Get an Introduction
Client referrals greatly accelerate your sales cycle in two ways: (1) You connect more quickly with the prospect who has reason to trust you, and (2) referred customers close at a much higher rate than ordinary sales.
Don’t view referrals as an afterthought. Ask existing customers and prospects to connect you with other potential buyers. For more sales in less time, don’t be shy. Learn how to ask for client referrals.
- Be Prepared
How much time is actually spent working on a sale? On a tough sale, you might spend 50 or 60 hours – talking to the prospect, identifying needs, designing a solution, presenting options, and closing. But the bulk of time is mostly spent waiting – waiting for the return calls, for the information you need to prepare the proposal, for your proposal to reach the right people, and for their decision.
Reduce waiting time by preparing for each sales call and making a list upfront of all the information you’ll need to help your client to succeed and make a good decision. Do not waste time talking to the wrong person, proposing options outside of their budget, or missing critical information required to advance the deal forward.
- Ask the Awkward Questions
Salespeople worry way too much about “building rapport” early in the sale so they’re afraid to ask the tough questions. But real buyers are not offended by relevant sales questions on important issues. They are busy and appreciate getting to the point.
Go ahead and ask: “Do you think your boss would sign off on this if it made sense? If the problem you described is really important, what has kept you from solving it until now? What resources have you set aside to tackle this problem?”
- Find the “Decision-Maker” or “Mobilizer”
Your first contact is seldom the person who closes the deal. If you cannot get to the final decision maker, look for a “mobilizer” – a person who has a track record for getting things done in the organization. If you can win them over, they will advocate for you.
- Ask for the Next Step
Surprisingly, most salespeople don’t actually ask for the prospect to commit to the next step. Sales cycles drag out when salespeople fail to pin down the prospect. “Call me next month,” the prospect says.
“Will do,” says the average salesperson.
“Let’s put it on the calendar,” says the great salesperson. “Also, what exactly will we be trying to accomplish? And can we get it done sooner.”
Do not be afraid to ask for commitment. Real buyers will agree to move forward. Weak buyers will bow out of the process. Remember, both are positive outcomes when it comes to being able to shorten your sales cycle.
- Never, Ever, Simply Just “Check In”
Salespeople who call customers every month to “check in” are wasting their time and the prospect’s. It means another month wasted without any progress toward the sale. And it comes across as lazy to prospects. Every call needs to do one of two things: (1) move the sale forward, or (2) disqualify the prospect.
- Find Multiple Problems
Research from our sales microlearning experts shows that salespeople who identify multiple problems during sales discovery are much more likely to get a sale. The magic number, according to this same research, is four – fewer problems mean you’re missing opportunities to close; looking for more than four makes you lose focus.
- Close Early in the Day
Studies show that people are much more likely to say “yes” when they’re well rested and their energy level is high. As you get more fatigued, you tend to take the path of least resistance – which means to stick with the status quo. If you want your buyer to act, get them while they’re fresh.
The Bottom Line
When you shorten the sales cycle, your sales performance increases. Are you and your sales managers doing all you can to accelerate your sales velocity?
To learn more about how to shorten your sales cycle, download 30 Effective Sales Questions More Important than Budget to Increase Sales Velocity