To do that, I want you to think about how long it takes you to close a new customer or client for around $195,000 in annual revenue. That’s not a small piece of business in anyone’s mind. So, is that 10 days, 30 days, 60 days or six months? I can tell you that for some of our clients, it’s even longer.
Some of you might have smaller engagements that take the same amount of time or longer to close. By the way, I’m not talking about any complicated legal agreements, licensing requirements or even detailed scope-of-work negotiations. I know those can extend sales cycles, but that’s not what I’m seeing. I’m seeing straightforward sales processes that just take too long to close.
What has to change to fast-forward the close? Here you go.
You need a well-defined, well-documented, well-executed sales process.
Think you have this already? Ask anyone in your company to repeat it to you. If they can’t, you don’t have one. Try asking one of your sales people. I bet if you ask three of them, you'll get three different answers. This has to change. You need a visual map of your sales process that everyone uses religiously.
You need to get people to know, like and trust you quickly.
The faster you get your prospects to know, like and trust you, the faster you close deals. So, use some of that content created by marketing. Apply it in just the perfect place to speed up the process of "know, like and trust." Stop selling people and start helping them. Nothing makes people distrust you more than when they think you’re selling them something. Ask them questions and get them talking about their business, their issues, their situation. There's no better way to make people feel like they know and like you than by showing you care enough to ask really good questions.
You need to co-create with prospects.
Work with them to come up with the recommendations. If you just spring it on them, you run the risk of surprising them. No one really likes surprises, not in business anyway. The more you co-create the set of recommendations, the more likely they are to sign off, and quickly. After all, it should be exactly what they wanted, right?
You need to make sure everyone (in sales) is telling the same stories, the same way, at the same time.
Stories do wonders for your sales strategy. They make people feel comfortable because stories are easy to understand. They’re relatable, so people get to know, like and trust you. Since we’re all human beings, we’re wired for stories. They emotionally connect us, which is also good for the sales effort.
But, perhaps the most important thing about stories is that people are good at sharing them. Facts and figures ... not so good. Stories ... very good. So, if your sales people get good at telling stories, chances are excellent that your prospects will share them internally and externally. This further speeds up the process and even brings in new sales opportunities.
Once you get this worked out, you can be sure that every prospect is having the same experience no matter which sales person they’re working with. This allows you to revise a single step in the process, train everyone on the change and immediately see the impact on your sales cycle and key metrics.
You need to measure, track, adjust and do it all again.
Speaking of metrics, once you have a new process, you have to measure and start watching improvements in the numbers: average revenue per new client, average days to close, conversion ratios like sales opportunity to agreement or agreement to customer.
Now you’re being proactive with your sales effort. Now you’re practicing inbound sales.
Start Today Tip – Your sales process has to be documented. If you don’t have a documented and mapped-out sales process, this has to be where you start. That alone uncovers holes in the process and in your prospects' experience, which are easy to fill and/or fix quickly. Then, you need to train your team. Even if you have only one or two sales people, they need to be intimate with your new process and the new tools that you’re providing to them, like content or video. Accomplish that, and you’ll be way ahead of most other companies and see a major improvement in sales cycles.
Looking for more recommendations like this? Download the first chapter of Fire Your Sales Team Today and see how to improve your entire sales effort.
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