In a recent survey by HubSpot, companies were asked what their top sales priorities were. Almost 30 percent said that shortening the sales cycle was one of their top priorities. Although there is a point where you can shrink your sales cycle too much, most companies haven’t hit their optimal point. So let’s examine four tips that allow you to shorten your sales cycle in a positive way.
1. Disqualify opportunities that aren’t going to work out.
Most sales professionals focus on getting leads into their pipeline and for good reasons. Yet, you might want to consider disqualifying some of your prospects, specifically those deals unlikely to close in the current or next sales cycle. This keeps them from taking up space in your pipeline. The faster you remove them, the better you’ll be able to focus your time, talent, and resources on leads that are likely to close.
How do you know which leads to disqualify? Implement a deal review process that assesses all wins, losses, and no decisions. This will allow you to identify the signs of deals that are likely to work out and those that aren’t. Armed with this data, you can decide earlier in the sales process whether a prospect is still worth pursuing. You can always revisit these leads in the future if characteristics change. It’s important that you qualify new leads to replace those prospects you disqualified.
2. Align yourself with your prospect’s objectives.
Selling solutions is a popular sales strategy. While it does have its merit, it has one big drawback: it assumes a problem exists and that the potential client recognizes it. The underlying principle of selling solutions is that people seek to avoid pain and negative things.
However, some argue that people are also quick to commit to things that result in positive experiences and pleasure. What’s more positive for a prospective client than being able to align with their stated business objectives? Using this strategy, you can get some prospects not only to act but also to act with urgency, accelerating your sales cycle. Aligning with objectives takes legwork. You’ll need to research the company and understand its current situation in order to select the correct objectives with which to align.
3. Build consensus.
The Age of Consensus was ushered in after the last economic downturn. More people are now involved in purchasing decisions because spending is scrutinized and re-scrutinized. In fact, more companies make purchasing decisions by committee than not.
What that means for you is that you must identify all people and departments involved. Reach out to everyone involved from the finance manager, to leadership, to end users, and anyone else impacted. Do your research and provide them with data that shows how the product or service you’re selling meets their needs. This will help them with their decision-making and accelerate the sales process because they can devote their time and energy to considering your deal rather than gathering the information themselves.
4. Schedule your next action step with your prospect.
Trim additional time off the sales cycle by scheduling your next call before you hang up. Make this a habit. Many sales reps add unnecessary time to the sales cycle by delaying this process. Once you and the prospect agree to the next action, there is no reason to delay the sales process by waiting to get in touch. Saying that you’ll follow-up sometime next week isn’t a commitment.
Reducing your sales cycle is not something that can happen overnight. Take some time to consider these four strategies, and determine how you can incorporate them into your sales process. If one doesn’t work, then try another. Whatever you do, don’t give up on trying to reach the optimal point for your sales cycle.
Founder of RedRock Leadership