Long sales cycles prevent sales teams from closing deals. So how can you speed things up, saving you both time and money in the process?
We needn’t point out how important sales are to just about any organization. Sales success is all about three simple things:
- Finding prospects who are ready to buy
- Leading them through the steps that turn them into loyal customers
- Not spending too much time moving from A to Z
Yet in many cases, a slow sales process prevents sales teams from closing deals after investing significant amounts of time and effort into putting the deal together. So how can you speed things up to save time and money?
The main causes of a long sales cycle
There are three factors that might delay the closing of a deal:
1. Poor planning
From the moment you decide to contact a lead, make sure you have a plan for each stage of the process and know what the results of those steps should be. Clients will pick up on the fact that you came unprepared, which could very well ruin your chances of closing the deal altogether.
2. Poor lead profiling
Setting up buyer personas is probably the most important step in the process. By researching who your average customer is, you gain insight into who is likely to buy your product and who is not. This will in turn improve the sales pitch and reduce the time it takes for your sales reps to close deals, as they no longer spend time trying to convince people who don’t fit the bill.
3. Inability to provide added value
Making customers understand the added value of your product or service to their business, is another essential part of your sales cycle. In general, poor communication and a limited understanding of what a customer wants are the two main causes for failing to do so.
The immediate advantages of a faster sales process
First, you need to understand why speeding up your sales process is important, and there are quite a few arguments to be made:
- Productivity increase: The time gained by shortening your sales cycle could be invested in starting up new deals.
- Scalability: More time means a possibility to think about long-term development, or how you could go about improving your sales process even further.
- Higher closing/conversion rates: Leads go cold if the sales cycle takes too long. With every passing day, there’s a possibility your prospects may get picked up by a competitor. Or, the customer may simply lose interest altogether.
- Cost efficiency: slow sales processes make your sales team work longer to close deals. As a result, more of your hard-earned money will needlessly be spent on calls, meetings and working hours.
4 Tips to speed up your sales process
Speeding up your sales process is obviously not a one-day-deal. It takes both effort and time, but you’ll see the return on investment in the long run. These tips should help you get started:
1. Target the right leads
There are leads, and then there are leads. Not every single one of them will be truly interested in buying your product. Start with your buyer personas to define your ideal customer. You can then use lead scoring to figure out to what extent a potential customer is interested in your product. This allows a business to greatly improve the quality and ‘readiness’ of leads delivered to sales reps for follow-up, which in turn will lead to an increase in your conversion rates.
2. Find the decision maker
Also, you do not want to waste your time qualifying leads only to find out you’re not talking to the key decision maker. Having to talk to a superior in order to gain his approval as well is like restarting the sales cycle all over again. If need be, you could use Teamleader’s integration with TrendsTop to obtain email addresses and functions of those in charge to help you reach the right contact.
3. Automate your processes
When you’re dealing with an extensive list of potential clients, automation can allow you to stay organized and streamline your processes. A CRM can help in automating sales and marketing processes, from setting up tasks to preparing the next steps in the process. For instance, sending out your sales quote automatically will cause less delay, which in turn means the client can make a decision in a shorter time frame.
4. Improve your lead nurturing
Research has shown that only 22% of businesses contact their nurtured leads on a weekly basis. However, regular points of contact allow you to eliminate out-of-date information and stop wasting time on leads that will never make it through the sales cycle anyway. For example, if you contact a lead a week after he has started a free trial, chances are he won’t even remember. Contacting that lead straight away will urge him to take quicker decisions and will ensure the decision is not postponed indefinitely.
And last but not least…
Use the right tools! In today’s market, numerous applications allow you to measure the results of every single action your sales team makes. An integrated CRM like Teamleader will provide you with all the customer data you need to help you make better decisions. And in turn, spending less time trying to manage and gather contacts’ data will allow you to spend more time actually interacting and providing that additional value you promised.
Oh, and lest we forget: keep in mind that an email or phone call is where many sales conversations start. That is why it remains crucial that your sales team have all the right data at their disposal to follow up on prospects or leads. With Teamleader, activities such as calls, meetings and email opens are automatically tracked, which means that instead of spending time manually entering data, salespeople can actually focus on closing sales in the most efficient way possible.
Eager to try it out for yourself? Start your free trial today!