When you’re dealing with a longer decision-making process, challenges are even greater to shorten the sales cycle and get more potential customers through it. If you let your sales cycle go on too long a deal become less and less valuable.
In fact, it may even end up not worth the effort at all.
The more time and resources you put into acquiring a new customer, the more you dig into your profit margin. Management won’t be as excited about you closing a new deal if they find out it will actually end up costing the company money.
On top of that is the opportunity cost. You could be losing out on new sales opportunities if you are stuck in a sales cycle that moves at a snail’s pace.
Frequently, sales teams already have all the tools and resources need to streamline their sales cycle and close deals faster. The core problem is knowing how to leverage these tools to make informed decisions on how to improve.
In this post, we’ll discuss how to look at your sales cycle critically so you can better understand where improvements can be made from everything from your sales team to the technology you use.
First, Understand Your Current Sales Cycle
You can only streamline and improve your sales cycle if you have a deep understanding of how it works to begin with.
If you start tinkering with it before you really understand it, you risk wasting time making that won’t yield the solution you’re actually looking for.
In order to optimize it, you must first have a firm understanding of key metrics like the average length of your sales cycle, steps involved, friction and drop-off points, and who your ideal buyer actually is.
Crunching the data or using a data visualization tool is crucial for understanding the opportunities and threats are to your individual business.
4 Ways to Streamline Your Sales Cycle And Close Deals Faster
Every sales team wants to speed up their sales cycle, but this can be a huge challenge in industries with naturally long cycles or with enterprise clients with multiple decision-makers.
There are, however, things that sales teams can do to decrease the time from start to finish, regardless of the industry they are in.
1. Identify and smooth friction points in the sales cycle
From your analysis of your current sales cycle, you should be able to uncover at what point leads go silent, drop off, or decide to move forward with your product. Once these points are identified, then they likely can be resolved through sales enablement tools.
“There are just too many alternatives available when buyers confront friction. If you can identify and understand your customers’ pain points, it will bring you closer to them and solidify the relationship.”
There are a variety of methods to help reduce some of these friction points and enable your team.
By working together with your marketing team, you can create content (blogs, ebooks, whitepapers, webinars, etc) to help educate, nurture, and ultimately convert your leads by answering questions and overcoming common objections.
There are also sales data visualization tools that can give teams better transparency and understanding on where they are bottlenecking in the sales funnel. This allows sales managers to know where their team might be struggling so that they can offer training to correct the problem.
Cadence management is another great tool to move a prospect along the buyer’s journey. What’s more, automated sales engagement means your team can spend less time on the tedious task of manually following-up with opportunities, and more time selling.
2. Adopt the right sales methodology for your business
Sales reps should be keenly aware of what is expected of them in terms of their actual quotas. But in order for them to be successful in reaching them, they have to know how to actually reach those numbers. Implementing a standardized methodology using your best practices is the best way to ensure they understand the steps they should take to do this.
While the sales cycle tends to follow the same basic steps toward the end goal of closing the deal, sales methodologies can vary wildly from business to business.
No two methodologies can or will be the same because it’s catered to the needs of each business based on a variety of aspects such as their product, price, customer, market, and so on.
“Every sales transaction should either enable a buyer to achieve a goal, solve a problem, or satisfy a need. If the product or service won’t fulfill any of these three ends, the salesperson should walk away from the deal.”
You should choose a methodology that helps systemize your process and improve efficiency. Some of the most common are SPIN Spelling, The Challenger Sale, and N.E.A.T Selling, but the crux of the solutions is to give your salespeople an actionable step to take at given stages.
3. Focus on your ideal customers, weed out the rest
Not every customer is going to be a good fit. Pursuing a truly “bad fit” prospect wastes time, energy, and money on your sales team.
Stop spending time chasing after clients that either aren’t ready or just aren’t interested. You may not need to sever ties completely, but you don’t need to actively pursue them.
So how do you know if they are the right fit?
Your ideal customer should have a good idea of what they want or are trying to accomplish. If it feels like they are unsure, it probably means they came to the wrong place or they’re early in the buyer’s journey.
If it’s the latter, it might be an opportunity to build rapport and help them along their decision-making journey, however, keep in mind that you’re likely in it for the long-game.
“As much as you can get the prospect to communicate what their brand is all about and what their marketing goals are, the better you will be able to determine whether they are a good fit for your organization or not.”
Another sign they might not be the right fit for you is if they’re preoccupied with their budget. If you are working with a startup, they might not even have a clearly defined budget, which means they can’t possibly make a buying decision.
If they’re asking for reduced fees or seem unsure of their budget, it might be a red flag to walk away so you don’t waste time on someone that isn’t ready.
There are a lot of articles out there about how to determine if you’re wasting your time on a prospect, but in the end, you should follow your gut. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, a prospect might just “not feel right”.
With experience, you will learn how to recognize these and it will save you a lot of time and money.
4. Leverage the right sales technology
With experience, you will gain an understanding over time of who these ideal customers are, but what if you need a solution right now?
Territory management tools can give you a deeper understanding of both your prospects and your team. These sort of visualization tools can be used on your team to increase accountability, transparency, and communication, on your existing territory.
Leveraging these tools give you the visibility to understand where your greatest opportunities lay. Mapping and route optimization tools can help make getting to these prospects faster and more efficient — saving your team a lot of time and resources.
You can even use your CRM for cadence management to build rapport and keep top-of-mind awareness with your prospects. Use it to set up regular, automated reminders to check in with prospects at set intervals via email.
Different tools can show you how these efforts are affecting your bottom line and let you understand where your team can be improved. If your prospects are consistently getting hung up in a particular part of the funnel, you can give your team best practices to overcome the objections they’re getting.
It’s hard to control your sales cycle. It’s even harder when you don’t have a clear understanding of what it actually looks like.
So before you can hope to improve your odds, you need to take a hard look at your processes, labor, and resources currently in place. Using technology to understand your sales cycle is a great first step in decreasing the time your team spends from start to close.
You even likely have a lot of the tools and resources you need already. Take a hard look at your sales cycle today and discuss with your team, management, and marketing department on how and where it might be improved.
Don’t have tools to help you better understand your data and customers? See how Map My Customers can help you start making data-driven decisions about your sales cycle now. Also subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get more tips and tricks about how to improve your sales.