How To Shorten The Sales Cycle
Eric Schechterman, Director of Sales, Benetrends
Definition: Closing the business as quickly as possible after 1st initial contact.
Whether you’re a hunter sales rep, a farmer sales rep, inside sales or outside sales, having the ability to control and at times shorten the sales process is a powerful tool to have in your arsenal.
Throughout my sales career, the most common obstacles and stalls that lengthen the sales process are: “Send me a proposal…….Call me tomorrow/next week/next month……I need to think about this more……I really don’t have the time to do all of this right now……I need to check on my other options….. I need to check with my partner”
There are 5 areas to focus on that will help your control and shorten your sales process.
Those areas are: (1) Your confidence & mindset (2) Attempt to close business on the spot (3) Setting clear next steps (4) Creating urgency and (5) Asking the tough questions.
MINDSET in the sales process is your perception of how either the sales call will go or your perception of how long the sales process will be. Confidences in the sales process are your personal verbal and non-verbal communications as well as the self-assessed evaluation of your sales and closing ability. Areas that aid confidence & mindset are your voice inflection, non-verbal cues you portray during your process, your excitement, passion, and genuine interest in what you are presenting. And, your professionalism……your ability to be on-time, how you dress, and how you prepared for the call.
Think about this…….Have you ever seen a successful rep that’s not confident?
Can you CLOSE BUSINESS ON THE SPOT? YES! This must be the goal every time. You need to ask yourself “Have you earned the right to close the business?” Did you pre-call plan? Did you pinpoint the buyers buying motives/business objectives? Did you identify needs and present value to the buyer? Did you check to see if the buyer was on board with you through trial closing and believing in the concept?
Here’s a suggestion that might work………ASK FOR THE BUSINESS! Closing the sale should be anti-climatic and non-threatening. They know what you are trying to do……at the end of your presentation it just makes sense.
Now, if you are unable to close, be sure to SET CLEAR NEXT STEPS. This is crucial for shortening the sales cycle. If this is not done, then there is no time frame for a decision to be made. Assign the buyer a task to keep them involved in the process. For example, have them check the 3 references you gave them so it’s done by the time you come back for the 2nd meeting. Assign yourself multiple tasks to have done for the next meeting and set the appointment for the next call before you end the call. Do not let them tell you when the next call should be, you should take their feedback and set the expectation.
CREATING URGENCY in your buyer is the ability to keep interest high and bring the sales process to a close. In most cases, the longer the sales cycle goes the less chance you have in securing the business. It is important to always ask THE TOUGH QUESTIONS. Always get a “yes” or “no”, but never accept a “maybe”. Some sales professionals don’t want to know? Why? The feeling of “awkwardness” is sometimes a necessity and is good. We need to know where we stand.
Samples of tough questions
- If the pricing makes sense, can we get this going today?
- You have now checked out 3 companies, do I have your endorsement on selecting my company?
- Mr. Buyer, I know this probably isn’t the case, but normally when people tell me they need to think about it, they are just trying to blow me off. What do you need to think about?
- I could put together a proposal for you, but like I said, your price will be $XX. You are busy, so why don’t we just get you set up now.