The sales cycle begins when a company receives an inquiry from a buyer and it ends when that buyer makes a payment. The goal is shortening the time between the initial inquiry and the payment. The sooner a sale is made, the sooner the buyer begins to enjoy their purchase and the sooner the seller has the payment on their books. Additionally, once the new sale is complete, both buyer and seller can turn their attention to the next sale. The cycle continues generating value for the buyer and revenue for the seller.
Remember: current buyers are the biggest source of new revenue. These proven practices help your company leverage your relationships with and knowledge of your current buyers.
Practice One: Customize your sales process for your current buyers.
The vast majority of sales processes (funnels) assumes you have zero knowledge of the buyer and the buyer has zero knowledge of your company. They are useless for maximizing sales cycle speed with current buyers.
We recommend that 70% of your business development resources be devoted to current buyers. The more you repeat your efforts the shorter the sales cycle becomes.
Practice Two: Think of the sales cycle as the ultimate opportunity to customize offerings.
A key to revenue growth is to always be improving or innovating your current offerings and creating new ones. Whereas old-school sales funnels tell you to qualify prospects in terms of your existing offerings, with current buyers it makes sense to find out more about what they want and need and then figure out how to give that to them in new high value/high profit ways.
Practice Three: Communicate effectively.
We recommend the 4-Message Marketing Mix Approach. It’s included in the GO CURVE Evergreen Client System.
Practice Four: Ensure your internal processes and requirements don’t drag things out.
(Don’t let them get driven by lawyers and other highly risk averse people.)
So often we’re quick to blame the buyer when a sale drags out. I’ve seen far too many sellers create logjams that hinder speed. This often happens because the sales process is designed by, or at least approved by, lawyers and other risk averse individuals. For the sake of your long-term relationships and your revenue, do not let risk aversion overcome your good speedy business sense.
Practice Five: Know your buyers’ buying process to preempt delays wherever possible
There are times when the buyer’s company has a buying process that decreases speed. Since we’re always focused on current buyers, your account team or sales rep should be very familiar with the buyer’s process and the parts that cause it to slow down.
Some common sources of delay include:
• Multiple layers of approval by people who don’t know or care about the actual buyer’s needs.
• Company preference for competitive bids
• Strong anti-spend mentality: “We should get by with what we’ve got.”
• Strong cost-reduction mindset: “The less we spend, the bigger our bottom line,” regardless of how the company’s own operations are hindered by not spending.
• Risk aversion and legal scrutiny in the buyer’s company.
• A culture that values deliberation over speed.
Speeding up the sales cycle is good for your buyers and good for your company. Get on top of it and stay on top of it.