Ideally, just like with any of the products that you are building, all the moving pieces involved in your manufacturing sales cycle should be working effectively together like a well-oiled machine. But with an array of challenges, both internally and externally, this can be difficult to achieve in today’s business world.

Only 65% of field sales reps on average are achieving their sales quotas because only one-third of their time is actually spent being able to sell. There is also increasing competition from online markets or overseas providers, trade wars, and changing buyer expectations that make your marketing and sales teams’ efforts even harder.

But, that doesn’t mean that in the tough world of manufacturing sales it isn’t possible to consistently hit your sales quotas and increase revenue. It is crucial to take proactive steps to shorten your sales cycle and capitalize on opportunities to be successful.

Source: Map My Customers

Lead Nurturing Helps To Shorten Sales Cycles

The key though is to get to a point where you shorten your sales cycle but still maintain positive interactions and relationships with your prospects (and existing customers). This is where lead nurturing plays such an important part in a successful sales cycle. Especially in the world of manufacturing and production sales.

The ability to research detailed information on companies, manufacturers, and their products is more available than ever to our customers. As well as the availability of detailed product comparisons and reviews. This is one of the big reasons that the average lead to close length in B2B sales is now 102 days, according to Salesforce. So, relationship building with your prospects is crucial to being able to stand apart from your competitors and shorten your sales cycle.

Source: Propecta

Let’s take a look at some effective strategies to shorten your sales cycle and use automation to build relationships with your buyers at every stage of the sales cycle.

#1. Truly Know Your Customer To Map Their Journey Properly

The first step to shortening and optimizing your sales cycle is to clarify who your perfect buyer is. You can’t effectively focus on lead generation if you don’t know exactly who you should be targeting to maximize sales.

By creating customer personas and mapping out their journey through your sales process you can help outline the qualities of your ideal buyer and clarify the target market. Aim to answer questions like “what are their pain points?” or “what essentially drives them to make a purchase?”.

Source: Iron Springs Design

If you take the time to truly know your customer and their pain points, then you can accurately map out the customer journey and ideal sales funnel stages. Your sales team will be able to create a faster workflow and close more deals by following a sales cycle that is aligned with the customer journey.

You will know how to approach your target market and set up a truly effective automated nurturing program using an adaptive sales platform. Your sales team, including partner sellers, will be able to customize their message to specific prospects and nurture leads in a focused manner with data-driven solutions. Knowing your customer will mean efficient lead nurturing and the generation of more qualified and profitable leads. Both of which will reduce the overall length of the sales cycle.

# 2. Find Your Perfect Cadence

Now that you have your target customer and their journey through your sales process mapped out, it is important to take a look at your cadence and workflow. This is where many delays in the sales cycle can often be found. If a prospect is sitting too long in one stage of the cycle, they will drop off and you will find yourself with a leak in your sales funnel due to a mismanaged cadence.

Looking at your cadence set up from a lead nurturing perspective, take some benchmarks from some of your most regularly-closing sales reps, biggest deals won, and highest paying customers. What worked with their sales process? How many touchpoints were there? This is a good starting point to refine your existing cadences and workflow from and determine what the best process will be to shorten your sales cycle.

Some types of prospects or manufacturing needs will need a more frequent cadence schedule or in-depth content and data offerings. Utilize a few structured workflow setups to allow for your standard optimized sales cycle as well as a more in-depth workflow.

# 3. Clean Up Your Leads & Get Rid Of The Old

With manufacturing sales, your sales team has no time to waste. To stay competitive you have to focus on maximizing efficiency and focusing on the opportunities that have the highest chance of converting. Allowing your sales funnel to get clogged and accumulate bottlenecks due to old stale leads will result in more time wasted and valuable opportunities falling through the cracks.

To achieve a decrease in the overall cost of sales efforts and produce an increase in return, you and your sales team should only be focusing on buyers who are more likely to convert. By cleaning up the leads in your sales cycle, you allow your team to zero in on qualified leads and convert them into customers more frequently. Your sales team should be spending their time focusing on nurturing leads who have shown genuine interest in purchasing and get rid of the rest.

So, to shorten your sales cycle it is important that you carefully go through your database of leads. Remove leads first that contain invalid data or are non-responsive. Followed by leads that are not likely to convert and no longer worth pursuing.

# 4. Utilize Optimized Territory Management & Prospecting

Some things that take up the most amount of time in a sales cycle are inefficient territory management and prospecting. In taking a look at your sales cycle and trying to determine where inefficiencies may lie, are your reps spending too much time traveling from one customer to another? Is this reducing the amount of time available for sufficient sales training to ensure your reps fully understand the complex services or equipment they are trying to sell? Do they have time to focus on solution selling rather than feature selling?

Source: Map My Customers

By increasing sales efficiency in these areas, you can quickly shorten your sales cycle and reduce your overall costs. You will reduce the amount of time your reps spend driving from one customer to another, decrease the cost of gas, and gain a 74% increase on average in overall time saved. This means more time to nurture your team’s manufacturing sales leads at each phase and build meaningful relationships. You will also achieve efficient prospecting to generate leads that reps can call on right away and have a higher chance of closing quickly. You can quickly uncover leads who may have urgent needs for their latest projects that are breaking ground or companies who may be expanding their production. These are the types of opportunities your reps should be focusing on to grow your business.

One of the biggest advantages of utilizing optimized territory management and lead generation is that they will allow time for more comprehensive and data-driven sales training, including to your partner sellers. This means your sales reps and partner sellers can offer more customized sales interactions providing truly valuable solutions to your prospects and data-driven discussions. These kinds of interactions will always result in a higher chance of closing at a faster pace.

Wrapping It All Up

By utilizing the tips above, you can shorten your manufacturing sales cycle and increase sales efficiency. This allows your reps more time to increase their width of knowledge and focus on actually selling confidently. This will also help your partner sellers be more informed with data-driven solutions to offer clients. Proactively shortening your manufacturing sales cycle will cut costs in many areas, strengthen your sales team, and improve your company’s bottom line.