7 GOLDEN RULES FOR SHORTENING YOUR SALES CYCLE
How do you decide what is a likely deal and what isn’t and how do you accelerate the sales cycle to arrive to the highly prized sales?
Over the summer, I was watched the Tour de France with fascination. In the end, a whole 155 riders out of 176 finished the Tour. This high completion rate has not always been the case in the past. In 1906, for example, only 17% of riders reached the finish and the lowest ever completion rate was recorded in 1919 when only 10 riders crossed the finish line. Skills, practice, experience, technology but also the right strategy, all of these factors contribute to a high success rate.
Statistics from the early days of the Tour de France reminded me of the race for sales among tech start-ups. The majority of them are very good at generating leads, mainly because they address real issues and their drive and passion for their solution cannot leave everyone indifferent. But only few of them get to the finish line and close. Leads get stuck somewhere in the middle. Very often, a big lead in a sales pipeline looks like the shape of the boa constrictor that swallowed the elephant (in the beautiful story of the Little Prince):
So how do you make sure that these big sales leads don’t disappear in the boa’s belly, how do you decide what is a likely deal and what isn’t and how do you accelerate the sales cycle to arrive to the highly prized sales?
Here are seven golden rules that will help you achieve all that.
1. Get commitment
“Business is business” and being direct will save you and your customers a lot of precious time. What can be easier than to ask “What will it take for you to become our customer ?”. Just one simple question can give you an insight into where you are with your pitch and into how soon that sale could be closed. Other good questions to ask:
What are the steps we need to complete for you to become our customer?
What is the decision-making process for this kind of purchase?
How quickly can you make a decision?
2. Don’t shy away from working on objections
Objections and doubts are part of human nature. In fact, they are very good because they allow you to understand the way your prospects think. Working on the objections, providing more information, will increase the prospects confidence in your offer. One of the ways to address concerns is to tell stories about other customers. Share how they felt uncertain until they learned about the advantages of your solution or until ultimately realised they would save time and even money. In short, references work. Addressing common “worries” proactively and for the many is another way of dealing with objections: check out, for example, how www.Dollarshaveclub.com does it with their FAQ page. Some of the questions there are great examples of objection handling.
3. “ABC — Always Be Closing”
These words, spoken by Alec Baldwin back in 1992 in the “Glengarry Glen Ross” movie, are hardly a new concept. But it is a phenomenal reminder of the importance of closing every call and every meeting by defining the next steps and the timeline. It is human nature to be effective with a clear roadmap and under a strict deadline. No more wasted time on trying to schedule another call or catch up just as a follow to the call or catch up that just happened!
4. Betting odds
Only 7% is a sales conversion rate for SaaS businesses. MarketingSherpa published this shocking statistic. It means that 9 out of the 10 companies you are talking to today will not become your clients. The faster you determine the “highest win probability” prospects, the quicker you will arrive at the sales finish line. Your targets are those “low-hanging fruits”, park the rest for later.
To determine who the highly probable wins are, you need to learn as much as possible about your potential clients. What is their motivation? What does their decision-making process look like? What roadblocks might they face? How many internal “champions” for your products do you know? Etc… Every information on the inside will help you rate the level of genuine interest and ability to sign you up as a vendor.
5. Draw your MAP
MAP stands for mutually agreed (action) plan. Why mutually? Because it is a well-established fact that buyers are more willing to buy what they helped to create. High engagement from your prospect is the most significant indicator of future success. Develop an action plan together, define the milestones, understand the roadblocks and explain what you will do on your side to make the sales process easier for your client.
6. Make more friends
Nothing could be more effective in sales. The more complex solution you sell, the more layers of decision making it will involve. Different values and priorities will drive general management, IT, the actual users, the wallet holders, all of them. Talking to them all will help you create value for every single layer of the decision-making cake. Listen to their concerns, work with them, and help by providing the information they require to support the purchasing decision. Your goal is to get every single yes, not just one of them because it will help you sign in less time.
7. Create urgency
With every day that passes, the chances of closing a deal slowly but steadily vanish. The main reason for this is the “buyers’ remorse effect”, a trick that our brain plays on us, making us doubt our decisions. To prevent your prospect from suffering from this mental torture, you need to move fast. Think of 3 reasons why the sale should happen now. Is it because this offer expires tomorrow? Is it because the implementation team is committed to other work next month? Is it because the most significant benefit for the client will occur only if he starts using the solution as soon as possible?
In my Liinea coaching workshops, I work with founders and sales teams, helping them get to optimised sales processes that result in sales that close faster. If you are looking to make “elephants” that don’t move a thing of the past, visit www.liinea.com