One of the issues in B2B sales, especially large dollar value sales, is that the sales cycle can be very long, potentially taking 3-months to 2-years or more. Sales that take an extended period of time are difficult and stressful, and can hurt a company's cash flow. Luckily, there are techniques that you as a sales professional can use to shorten your B2B sales cycle.
According to a recent business research study from Aberdeen ("Best in-Class Paths to Shorten the Sales Cycle"), sales that drag on are a leading cause of stress and annoyance for top salespeople. The Aberdeen report analyzed what it takes for the best companies to keep their sales cycles to a minimum. In this article we will discuss several proven strategies that are used by top B2B sales performers to significantly shorten the sales cycle and how you can implement those strategies to shorten your sales cycle (https://accent-technologies.com/blog/2016/03/02/4-strategies-to-shorten-b2b-sales-cycle/).
It is often said that a salesperson is only as good as his or her leads. If you are trying to sell to unqualified leads, your sales will either fall through or take an excessive amount of time to close. It is important for the sales team to work together with the marketing team to determine what characteristics (buyer persona) make a high quality lead and then implement a sales and marketing program to generate qualified leads. When everyone in a business operation is on the same page, the quality of the leads will increase, and high quality leads often make a purchase within a much shorter sales cycle.
Use your client buyer persona data generated from past sales and the activity of specific buyers to score the quality and buying intention of your new leads. When you score your leads dynamically, your sales team can focus their time on selling to the most qualified leads first, thereby reducing the length of the sales cycle and not wasting a lot of time trying to sell to leads that are low quality and have low buying intent.
Your sales team likely has people who are better qualified to make the initial lead qualification and set appointments, and others who are monster closers who can close nearly every qualified lead. By separating and delegating these sales specialists, you can make certain that your top performers (your closers) focus their time selling to the most qualified leads. When closers have small lists of highly qualified leads, you will see your sales cycle time frame greatly reduced.
If you want your potential buyers to make a purchasing decision faster, you are going to want to make sure that your salespeople are always available to answer any questions or concerns those high quality leads may have. According to the Aberdeen study, buyers typically want a response within a day or less in order to make a decision on their purchase (https://accent-technologies.com/blog/2016/03/02/4-strategies-to-shorten-b2b-sales-cycle/). While providing high quality answers to your the questions asked by your prospects is very important, it will go nowhere if those responses are delayed. Therefore, you want to have a centralized information repository where sales reps can quickly and easily find all the information resources they need to answer any prospective client questions. This includes product sheets, sales presentations, playbooks, brochures, sales scripts, and other sales tools.
Any process in business can be made more efficient by constantly reporting on and analyzing the individual steps--similar to creating business system like a franchise would use. It's no different with your sales process. By taking an analytical look at the steps in your sales funnel, you can figure out where the bottlenecks are. Then, you can create procedures to improve each step of your sales funnel, making your sales funnel and closing process a fine tuned machine. One very important part of your sales funnel analysis is looking at the average time a potential buyer spends in each stage of your sales funnel. Using this data can help you find and improve stages that are causing your sales cycle to take an extended amout of time (https://www.pardot.com/blog/5-ways-marketers-can-shorten-sales-cycles/).
There have been studies showing that a sales rep who in their own personal purchasing takes a long time to make a buying decision will end up with a slower sales cycle when they are on the other side of the picture and selling. In other words, if you take a long time making purchasing decisions, you will find yourself sympathizing more with slow buyers and causing your sales cycle to take longer than necessary. If you personally make fast buying decisions, you will be more likely to push a lead toward making a faster buying decision. You and the rest of your sales team should evaluate your own buying patterns and try to become faster buyers so you lead your prospects to making faster buying decisions (https://www.membrain.com/blog/5-ways-to-shorten-your-b2b-sales-cycle).
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