Does Your Sales Team Know How to Combat Long Sales Cycles?
Long and longer sales cycles are the bane of every salesperson trying to hit quota. Long sales cycles require more perseverance than most of us can maintain. Unfortunately, sales leaders find that too many reps end up having “just checking in” conversations with prospective buyers that bring no value to the customer and lose any sales momentum that may have generated in earlier sales calls.
If your sales strategy is being hindered by the inability of your sales team to effectively combat long sales cycles or by prospects that have gone dark, then this blog post is for you.
The Top 7 Steps to Combat Long Sales Cycles
Business sales training participants tell us that they want to shorten the sales cycle whenever and wherever possible. Take a page from the consultative selling training “bible” on how to go faster from early pre-call sales planning meetings through customer discovery to the final deal:
- Invest the Time to Create a Client Access Strategy
Every client opportunity has different levels of direct and indirect gate keepers, influencers, evaluators, and decision makers. Influencers may not be part of the formal decision-making team but influence the decision (e.g., technical experts, users, economic buyers, peers, bosses, and consultants.) Evaluators make it happen, gather information, and act as designated point of contacts with vendors.
As soon as you can, figure out who the influencers, evaluators, and decision makers are and rank their level of influence (e.g., high, medium, low) and perception of your company (e.g., positivem neutral, negative). If you are unsure of their role, alignment, or influence, make your best guess and place a question mark (?) beside your answer.
Then , with your team, create a Client Assess Strategy with a thoughtful plan to get to who matters most while mitigating potential risks. The closer you can get to those with the influence and power to buy, the sooner you can seal the deal with ideal target clients.
- Articulate Your Differentiation
Once you are in front of the right buyers, you must be able to articulate your unique value proposition in a believable and compelling way that sets you apart from the pack. Your buyer must be able to understand what you can do for them and why your solution is better than any other. Be prepared to offer proof through case studies and testimonials that you can deliver on your promises.
Use proven sales presentation skills to draw meaningful and direct connections between what they care most about and what you can offer. Paint a clear picture of how the future with your product/service is far better than their current situation.
- Build Trust in the Relationship
Sophisticated and executive-level buyers want to have meaningful, thought-provoking, and insightful conversations with someone at their altitude and level of expertise. They do not want to be asked standard sales questions by a “salesperson.” To become a trusted advisor, always be prepared, do what you say you are going to do, and put their best interests first.
- Plan a Meaningful Goal for Each Client Interaction
Each time you call or meet with a client, you should have a specific client-centered outcome in mind. This is the best way to help your clients to succeed and to drive deals forward. Otherwise, you risk wasting the client’s time and yours and lengthening the cycle further.
- Use Client Objections as Stepping Stones
When customers voice objections, you have a great opportunity to address them and move forward in a way that helps the client and enhances your relationship. The earlier sales objections occur, the better you can qualify your client, remove key obstacles to their purchase, or move on to better opportunities.
- Make it Easy for Your Customer
If the entire deal is daunting to your customer, your chances of success, much less quick success, are slim. Do what you can to make it easy for your customers to “Try and Buy”, and make it easy for your sales reps to “Sell.”.
Sometime you need to find a way to make the deal work on a smaller basis through a pilot. Other times you can offer free upfront assessments or trials to show your value. Meeting the client where they are is a great way to build trust and move pieces of a deal forward.
- Bring Client-Perceived Value to Each and Every Exchange
Customers want to meet with and do business with people who they trust and that can help them to learn, see, or do new and valuable things for them personally and professionally. And if you can provide value through earlier outreach efforts (e.g., research, newsletters, articles), you can sometimes short-circuit the sales process because you have already proven your worth.
The Bottom Line
To shorten sales cycles, keep your focus on qualified target clients, provide meaningful value, and have your customer’s best interest at heart. If you really pay attention, chances are that you will be able to cut your typical sales cycle by thirty to fifty percent by focusing on where you should win. How’s that sound?
To learn more about shortening your sales cycles, download The Top 30 Effective Sales Questions that Matter Most to Move Deals Forward