Three Remedies For a Long Sales Cycle
Every member in a sales organization fears the stagnation of a drawn-out sales cycle. Leads wallow in an uncertain purgatory between qualification and close. Prospects may seem convinced one day, and unresponsive the next. Deals wither on the vine, and reps miss their quotas. If you’ve been at a company where this is taking place, you know it’s a poor time for morale. Sales cycle length is one of the most important barometers of success and sources of insight for a team. Luckily, there are a few jumpstart methods to shorten your sales cycle. There’s no silver bullet, but these steps will ensure you’re putting your team in position to succeed.
Most companies have some sense of their buyer’s journey once they’ve been in the market for a few months and have had conversations with prospects. They understand a problem their customers have that their product solves and how to communicate that effectively. But many companies struggle to find a reason their customers should buy their product now.
Finding a “compelling event” that triggers a purchase decision can be difficult. For most vendors, their product saves companies money, or makes a certain business function easier. In these cases, instilling urgency can simply be a matter of calculating the potential savings of money or manpower that adoption will achieve. Seeing that money or productivity is being lost for every day without a product is a strong motivator for a potential customer.
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Focus on Foot in the Door
Companies like Slack and Atlassian have grown to an extraordinary size by offering a basic service free of charge, creating awareness and fandom in organizations before they ever make a sales call. By targeting the end user, they prove their value before any money has exchanged hands. This approach cuts through the noise of a competitive market and circumvents the adoption challenge faced by almost every SaaS vendor. While this model won’t be possible for companies where offering a free product simply isn’t feasible, it does illustrate a point that can help almost any sales team. Proving value is absolutely key to getting purchaser buy-in for a sale, and this is far easier when you have a foot in the door. Shrinking target deal size may seem like a losing strategy for a company looking to grow. But lowering the financial bar for a sale and simply focusing on getting deployed makes for a less challenging sale and allows for an upsell down the road.
One of the most common reasons for an unnecessarily long sales cycle is uncertainty. Uncertainty on the part of the sales rep, not knowing what step to take next to close a deal. Uncertainty on the part of the sales manager, not knowing how to help their reps. And worst of all, uncertainty on the part of the sales VP, not knowing how their customers make purchase decisions.
This uncertainty can be abolished by establishing a well-researched sales process that both mirrors the buying pattern of a customer and creates a sense of urgency to make a purchase. The sales process is a set of ideal steps that you lay out for your team as the most effective course of action to close a deal. The path of actual deal conversations may take many turns and stray from your ideal sales process; having a template to follow gives your reps a “true north” to help them navigate deals when this happens. It also improves your ability to manage your pipeline by giving you a barometer of the health of the deals in your funnel and checkpoints to track how deals are progressing through each stage.