How to Perfect (and Shorten) Your Sales Cycle12 Feb 2019
I’ve been a salesman since I stumbled into it in my early twenties. I’d been a professional musician, travelling around Europe, having the time of my life. Then I had my first child and realised that I really needed something a little more stable…with a little bit less travelling around in a smelly old van.
And then I managed to basically talk myself into a sales job.
That encounter not only proved to me the value of making a real, human connection when securing an opportunity, but also that I was actually pretty good at this whole talking malarky. Maybe not the writing so much.
Over the years, I’ve learned so much about the best way to land a new lead, nurture them, win the opportunity, and keep them happy through account management.
I’d like to share with you my top tip for how you can improve each of these stages, creating the perfect sales cycle for your business.
Making First Contact
This is the first part of any business’ sales cycle, in one way or another. Whether that first contact comes after a colleague has already chatted with them or you’re the first, that initial conversation is something you’ve just got to nail.
So how do you make that first conversation a success?
In a word: listen.
Yes the person has got in touch to find out what you can do for them, but until you know what their pain points are, you can’t do anything for them.
We’ve all been in that sales conversation where the sales rep is so keen to finish their elevator pitch that they don’t even give you time to tell them why you’re calling.
So my advice:
Don’t get caught up in your own script. Listen to what they have to say and tailor your responses to that.
Getting to Know You
Following on from that, make room in your sales cycle for that bit of back and forth chatter. It might seem like those two line emails of (what you see as) basic questions are stretching out your cycle, making it longer and less efficient than it could be.
Remember that this part of the sales cycle is all about your sales team earning your prospect’s trust. They want to give you their money, but they aren’t going to part with it until they’re sure you’re going to deliver on your promises.
Be patient (within reason) and get to know the person, it will pay dividends in the long run.
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Closing the Deal
They’re about to sign on the dotted line, you’re ready to kick start the delivery process, but then…nothing. Or maybe a few more delays, a few more questions.
Every salesperson has encountered it…you think the deal is ready to drop, but something is just holding them up at the other end of the phone.
This is where all that good will you built up in the last stage of your sales cycle really comes into play. It’s also where having a system like OpenCRM can be really useful.
Let me explain what I mean:
CRM systems are great for keeping track of all that data you hold on your prospects and customers. They’re also great for automation and keeping a sales process moving.
Having some reminders and auto-emails set up to let both you and your prospect know when a quote is ready to expire or when an offer is going to run out can hurry along that last stage of your sales cycle (if someone is dragging their feet).
Being able to send those emails or make that follow up call to someone who you have a relationship with will soften the blow.
So my advice for closing the deal?
Combine the tools at your disposal and the relationship you’ve built to ensure you can ask for the business without damaging that relationship.
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Keeping them Happy
And the reason you want to keep that relationship intact? They’re going to be your customer. You want them to still like you after the sale is over.
Now you might not be doing the account management or customer support down the road, but your colleagues will be. Building and maintaining a good relationship with your customers is key.
Really, when you think about it, it’s really about perfecting the final stage of your sales cycle.
The final stage of your sales cycle isn’t closing the deal or even securing payment. It’s preparing them for their lifetime as your customer — which we all hope is going to be a good number of years.
Remember that your sales cycle never really ends. This “new” customer will become a recurring customer if you play your cards right.
Every business has their own sales cycle and their own way of managing each stage of it. The tips I’ve relayed about, however, have served me well over the years, in a variety of industries.
The perfect sales cycle revolves around keeping your prospect happy and fulfilling their needs, without bankrupting your business. It has to serve both parties…but in my experience, a sales cycle that builds a good relationship with your leads and customers is the best foundation your business can have.