Ahh, the never-ending quest to create the perfect, predictable sales cycle. To figure it out would be like discovering the holy grail of sales.
But – as you know – the insane number of variables and blockers in each sale makes it near impossible to fool-proof the system entirely. That’s not to say, of course, there aren’t ways to make sales cycles more predictable.
For instance, one surefire way to edge closer to a more predictable close is to keep momentum of a deal on your side. Always, always.
Here are seven ways to speed up the sales cycle and do just that:
1) Automate repetitive tasks that are bleeding into your prospecting or selling time.
Consider this: An SDR may spend the majority of their time hunting down information on a prospect or a company. A top sales rep might spend hours a day simply organizing or inputting information.
Chances are, tools can automate these tasks or make it easier.
Automating repetitive tasks helps reps spend more of their cognitive time working on high-value tasks like building targeted relationships. Start with an audit to determine which tasks you and your teammates are doing again and again. Then, prioritize which repetitive should (and can) be automated. Company research or data entry are two good places to start.
2) Set an agreed-upon goal for each sales call.
If you can get a prospect on the phone to talk about a deal, that’s great. If you can clearly communicate a goal for the phone call, get mutual agreement from your prospect, and then work together to achieve the goal by the end of call, that’s 10 times better.
An agreed-upon goal helps you create a guardrail for the conversation. When you veer off track, you know exactly where to circle back. Setting a shared goal also prevents one or both parties from guessing where they’re at in the deal cycle at the end of the call.
For example, you might set up a call and set and set a goal of answering any questions a prospect has about a particular area of your product. Now that you’ve set this goal, you know exactly how to guide the conversation and the prospect understands their role in the conversation. By setting a goal, you avoid wasting time backtracking or addressing misalignment or confusion.
At the end of a call, schedule the next meeting and set a goal for that call, too.
3) Explore prospect objections before you respond to them.
Not many people like to hear, “I know exactly how you feel!” right before getting hit with a super general sales pitch. The best sales reps know it’s crucial to not only listen to objections, but also to understand their root causes.
For instance, a prospect might say they don’t have time for your solution. You could interpret that as the perfect opportunity to launch into a “It’s quick and easy to set up!” pitch. Or you could ask them a few more questions about why they don’t have time.
After a question or two, you may realize they feel like they don’t have time because they feel resource strapped due to small team size.
When you take a minute to dig a little deeper into the objection, you open up doors that lead you directly to the source of a prospect’s pain point/objection. This way, you avoid focusing on untargeted or irrelevant objections and cater to a prospect’s unique needs.
4) Be clear about pricing (very) early on.
When’s the last time you were rung up at a cash register and were excited to learn about an extra fee that was tacked on? Probably never.
People don’t like finding out about unexpected costs and fees.
So while it can be tempting to soften the blow of cost by veiling the price, it almost always adds time and frustration to a deal.
Instead of strategically doling out added costs or fees — which is difficult and time-consuming to explain later — make it crystal clear what a prospect will be getting from your service from the get-go. It’s a simple thing, but price transparency gives your prospects a reason to trust you and saves you from unexpected pricing objections down the road.
5) Make it ridiculously easy for prospects to sign contracts from any device.
What’s something almost everyone has on them every moment of the day? What’s something you probably have on you right now? A phone. A tablet. Some sort of portable device.
No doubt about it, it’s a device-dominated world out there. Top-performing sales teams keep up with buyer behavior and adjust their sales techniques to accommodate it. Online contracts that can be signed on the go using any device cuts down on back-and-forth significantly.
6) Focus on your highest-performing channels.
There’s a reason companies don’t advertise certain products in newspapers anymore. Some channels just aren’t modern-day winners for featuring services or products. And focusing on poorly-performing channels will almost definitely slow down your roll.
To figure out where to focus your attention for the highest returns, track which channels perform the best for your team (maybe LinkedIn messages really do get the highest response rate) and continue to build systems that support additional focus on those areas.
It’s important to check your channels regularly. Just because one channel’s a winner in 2016 doesn’t mean it’ll be the clear winner forever. Always stay curious about channel performance and don’t be afraid to experiment by reaching out to new channels.
7) Be a person you’d want to talk to.
The positive effect of building authentic relationships can’t be overstated in sales. But it’s easy to slip into a “sales” personality, especially if you’ve got the skills and the expertise to guide a prospect through the sales cycle. Make sure you’re not undercutting these skills by removing the personal part of any sale. Be an expert, but don’t push. Building trust with a prospect takes a bit of time upfront, but it’s worth it in the end.
How effectively you sell makes a difference to the bottom line. How quickly you can effectively sell can make an even bigger difference. What am I missing, sales teams? I know there’s more.