If your average sales cycle has you spinning your wheels for months on end only to have potential customers regularly hit you with a "thanks but no thanks”, or flat-out ghost you, then something is majorly wrong.
Believe it or not, top sales professionals consistently close out successful cycles in a matter of weeks…
Because, unlike most salespeople, leading sales professionals understand that, the longer the sales cycle, the most likely:
- Prospects are to ghost;
- Prospect chose your competitors; and
- You lose the sales deals.
Moreover, top professionals understand that despite popular belief, sales success is contingent on having a short sales cycle!
That said, we’re sharing 10 tips for you to simply cut your current sales cycle down to 1 month. Ultimately, you’ll close more deals in less time without endlessly spinning your wheels.
Remember, sales cycles aren’t supposed to drag forever! If you think they are, then sales success is a matter of undoing the mental conditioning that’s got you thinking backwards.
What Is a Sales Cycle and Why Is It Important?
Also known as sales processes, sales cycles outline all the steps sales teams take to close deals with new customers.
You can think of the sales cycle as the journey that sales reps go through to convert leads into customers. And while sales reps are going through their selling journey, leads are on the other side going through a buyer’s journey.
Ultimately, the goal of the cycle is to achieve a 100% conversion rate from potential leads to paying customers.
The key to increasing that conversion rate is understanding potential customers on a deeper level. More specifically, it’s about understanding how you can solve a customer’s pain point in order to help pave the way toward business success.
From now on, think of B2B sales cycles like the process of going to a doctor appointment: When you see a doctor because you’re experiencing some knee pain, they’ll ask you in-depth questions and look at your scans to diagnose your pain and propose potential solutions that make sense for your lifestyle. Ultimately, they cure your knee pain so that you can get back to living a fulfilled life!
Just like how doctors spend the appointment process working to understand you, your pain, and what you want your life to be like, you and your sales team should spend the cycle understanding your prospect’s pain point so that you can help them get to a better place in business!
Without a thorough understanding of customers, their pain points, and what their vision of business success is, then sales success goes down the tubes.
The Average Sales Cycle Length (An Unfortunate Reality)
How long is your average sales cycle? One month? Two months? How about three?
If you’re like most salespeople, then your average sales cycle length is about four months... That’s about four times longer than it should be!
As a direct result of having such long cycles, sales teams continuously fail to close deals without ever understanding why.
Worse than that, they often experience a crippling amount of anxiety to go along with their confusion. Like I mentioned before, though, it doesn’t need to stay that way!
Why Sales Cycle Length Matters So Much!
Having a short sales cycle isn’t a plus, it’s a MUST. That is, if you want to efficiently close sales deals.
With each extra day added to your selling cycle, the odds that you close a deal starts to decrease.
Longer sales cycles damage the potential customer’s buyer’s journey. The longer the cycle, the:
- More the prospects get confused
- Less likely prospects feel as if they’re understood and cared about
- More the prospect feels as if their time is being wasted
When your potential clients have a sub-par buying experience, then it’s only inevitable that you’ll have an even worse-off selling experience (AKA, the cycle will be ridden with anxiety and unlikely end with a closed deal).
Here are 10 Tips to Cut Your Sales Cycle Down to 1 Month
Here are 10 tips for your and your sales team to immediately start cutting your sales cycle down to 1 month.
Unless you apply these 10 tips to your current selling process, then your average sales cycle will continue to drag on for endless months, leaving you feeling out of control and your prospect at a loss.
Remember, sales is a matter of serving people! Why should it take months on end to help other B2B companies get to a better place? It’ll only take that long if you choose to let it take that long!
Bottom line: Apply these 10 tips to your selling process if you want to do as the top sales pros do, by closing more deals with ideal clients in a matter of weeks.
1. No More Free Proposals!
First things first, we have to address the elephant in the room: FREE INITIAL PROPOSALS ARE A RECIPE FOR DISASTER.
If you’re regularly handing out free proposals so early in the selling cycle like they’re candy, then you’re basically asking for the cycle to last for months on end.
Just think about it. How many times have you slaved away working on a proposal, only to wait weeks on end for the prospect to contact you again? Even worse, how many times have you gone ham on a proposal only to get ghosted by the potential client?
When it comes to free proposals, just stop sending them. They’ll only drag the cycle on and leave you in a free hang.
Potential Customers Will Ghost You
Whenever you email prospects a free proposal, you’re passing them the control baton.
All of a sudden, you’ll find yourself waiting for months on end for them to respond to your proposal. And there’s little to nothing you can do about it, because they’re the ones with the baton in their hands!
Furthermore, when potential customers get a proposal in their hands, they’re basically on offense and you have to either steal the baton back, or wait for them to take a shot and get the rebound.
And unlike you, whose primary focus is keeping the cycle moving along, prospects could care less.
So, if you want to keep the cycle under 1 month, you have to stop sending out proposals, because proposals set you up to be on defense rather than offense.
The Cycle Is About Understanding Customers
Instead of handing out free proposals that are all about you and how great you are, you should spend the selling cycle getting to know your customers on a deeper level.
At the end of the day, the purpose of the sales cycle is to understand customers so that you can serve them by solving their pain points. But how do you think that sending free proposals helps you understand them in any way?
By sending out proposals, you’re shining the spotlight on yourself instead of the customers, which only makes the selling process drag on.
Instead of spending hours putting together a proposal that’ll get you nowhere, start asking questions to better understand your potential customers!
2. Clarify Your Vision
Going through the sales cycle without a clear vision is like driving from your home to a destination you’ve never been to before without GPS: Sure, you might eventually arrive, but the odds that you make it in a timely fashion are slim.
Without an ultimate desired outcome, it’s only inevitable you’ll get lost in the process.
The best-case scenario is that you’ll reach your vision, but it’ll take you longer than necessary and be a headache-inducing process. Worst case scenario, you’ll never reach your vision because you simply can’t get un-lost.
Furthermore, until you know exactly what you want to happen at the end of the sales cycle, then don’t even bother getting started.
3. Automate the Sales Process
You know what your ultimate desired outcome is, now it’s time to create an outline of an automatic sales process that your entire team can get behind.
Creating an automatic selling process streamlines the entire sales team workflow; everybody knows what they need to do and when they need to do it. As a result, the stages of the sales cycle inevitably begin to shorten!
Create a Blueprint
Think of the outline for your selling process as building a blueprint for a house. With a blueprint, you know:
- What resources you’ll need
- Who will need to contribute to which individual piece of the blueprint
- What ultimate vision that you’re all working towards
Moreover, a blueprint takes a somewhat daunting and large task and turns it into a basic process that everybody can understand.
With a blueprint, the process inevitably becomes automatic.
Focus on Customer Experience
When creating your blueprint, put a major emphasis on crafting an ideal customer experience. Because, at the end of the day, an ideal customer experience = a short sales cycle.
Think about it! If you were standing in your potential client’s shoes, wouldn’t you want to get a solution to your pain point ASAP? Of course, you would!
The only way to do that is by speeding up the selling cycle.
4. Delegate to Your Sales Team
With a defined sales cycle, you’re ready to start delegating individual steps of the cycle to individual sales team members. Ideally, a single team member will manage a single step of the cycle.
For example, team member 1 can manage lead generation, more specifically cold calling and emailing, while team member 2 manages final sales pitches.
When the stages of a sales cycle are defined and then delegated to the person who is best at them, it’s only inevitable that customer experience improves and the cycle shortens up a bit.
You Should Be Focusing on Leadership
Here’s the thing: Way too many CEOs and business owners are completely lost in the business and sales weeds. By that, we mean that they’re so caught up in the day-to-day of business and sales that they can’t focus on their most important task: leading the company.
What does it mean to lead a company?
To lead a company is to manifest the company’s vision. The way that you manifest a company’s vision is by making more sales to your ideal customers.
That said, CEOs should be focusing on the most important pieces of the selling process, such as solidifying solid customer relationships, rather than getting caught up in the sales weeds.
While you’re focusing on the keys to sales and ultimate business success, let your sales team who you’ve delegated the smaller pieces of the puzzle to take care of the rest.
Remember, you’re the leader, so you should be focusing on, well, leading!
5. Stop Getting Distracted By Other People’s Problems
To reiterate, you’re the leader of your company, so you should be focusing on leading. Leading is a matter of manifesting your business vision by focusing on the most important pieces of the sales puzzle.
Unfortunately, many CEOS delegate as they should but then still find themselves caught up in the business and sales weeds.
Because they just can’t seem to not get entangled in other people’s problems. While they should be focusing on the roadmap in front of them, they allow themselves to be consumed by other people’s issues.
Straight-up: You’ll never shorten your cycle if you continuously allow yourself to get distracted by other people’s problems. So, delegate, and then refocus on leading.
6. Connect With Decision-Makers
How often does this happen to you: You conclude the cycle with a final sales pitch, throw the deal down on the table, but then all of a sudden get hit with a “We will get a confirmation and then get back to you”? By that, the prospects mean that they have to check with the lead stakeholders before making a purchasing decision. Suddenly, hours turn into days and days turn into weeks before you hear back again.
Not only is this issue pervasive, but it can be completely prevented in the future if you simply connect with and form a relationship with those stakeholders early on in the selling process.
That way, you’re never left hanging by a thread and dragging the cycle on right at the bitter end!
Personalize the Buyer’s Journey
In a recent Salesforce survey, 76% of B2B buyers said that there is a lack of personal attention and customization during the buying experience.
Want to know the simplest way to turn that around and shorten the length of your sales cycle in the meantime?
Simple! It’s by connecting with the decision-makers right at the start of the cycle.
By doing so, you’ll never end the cycle with a “We will get a confirmation and then get back to you” because you’ll already be tight with the people who hold the authority!
7. Be Transparent With Prospects
Believe it or not, many B2B sales reps are constantly beating around the bush during the different stages of the cycle.
By that, we mean that they don’t tell prospects everything they need to hear because they don’t want to risk offending the prospect. However, not only does that bad behavior inevitably backfire, but it forces the cycle to drag on even longer.
Have you ever beaten around the bush with somebody, and then subsequently had to work your way out of the mess that formed as a result of not being completely transparent? It was a nightmare, wasn’t it?
Bottom line: Unless you want to get yourself into a messy situation and then drag the cycle out, tell prospects exactly what they need to hear when they need to hear it. Transparency is essential!
Remember, Prospects Don’t Know What Their Pain Points Are
Without you to solve the prospect’s needs, they will be left to fend for themselves! And when prospects are left to fend for themselves, it’s only inevitable that they’ll run into even more serious problems.
At the end of the day, prospect’s don’t know what their pain points are or how to solve them! If they did, then they would have already solved them and you would serve no purpose in their life.
Therefore, it’s important to be transparent with prospects so that they understand the gravity of their situation. Unless they wrap their head around the gravity of it, then they might not make a purchasing decision and will end up facing bad repercussions down the road.
8. Qualified Leads Only
Most sales teams report that sales prospecting during lead generation is their most challenging step of the sales cycle.
Unfortunately, many of the challenges that teams face during lead gen are self-inflicted.
In an effort to push as many potential customers into the sales pipeline, sales reps simply throw a net out into the sea and end up with tons of unqualified prospects in their pipeline.
As a result, they waste tons of time on prospects who, in reality, we’re totally unlikely to make a purchase in the first place.
Before shooting yourself in the foot and dragging on the cycle, always, ALWAYS qualify prospects before pushing them further down the sales pipeline! And if they don’t fit your ideal customer profile and ideal buyer persona, they don’t reach out to them at all.
Don’t Waste Your Own Time
Just because you’re excited about a new lead doesn’t mean that they’re a quality lead. When it comes to lead gen and sales prospecting, quality of leads > quantity of leads!
In short, never ever skip the qualifying step of the cycle. If you do, then you’ll likely end up with a bunch of unqualified leads who only waste your time and never buy from you.
If you realize that a prospect in your pipeline isn’t qualified, then don’t let them go completely to waste! Instead of simply letting them go, ask them for a referral and connect with them on social media.
9. Be Assertive With Your Outreach Tactics
Unless you are assertive with your outreach tactics (and quite frankly all of your sales tactics), then the cycle will drag on for what feels like forever.
Because unlike you whose top priority is generating new leads to close more deals, prospects have a thousand other priorities on their mind. Unless you assert yourself as somebody who can help them, then they’ll gladly skip past you to focus on other issues.
That said, be sure to assert yourself as somebody who can add immediate value to the prospect’s life. Without assertiveness, not a single lead will take you seriously.
Show Your Face
What’s the best way to assert yourself to prospects?
Simple! Show them your face. By that, we mean that you should email them a video of yourself so that they can see your face instead of simply reading some text.
Believe it or not, if the prospect is forced to look at your face and hear your voice, it immediately gets much harder for them to ignore you!
By putting yourself out there in such an assertive way, you’ll instantly become undeniable.
10. Follow-Up Within 24 Hours
So, you made your initial contact, but the prospect is giving you nothing but radio silence. What is there to do?
Unless you want the lead gen phase of the cycle to drag forever, then follow up within 24 hours of that first contact via phone call or email. If they still don’t respond to you after then, then follow up again within 12 hours.
You might initially feel like you’re pestering the prospect by following up so quickly and regularly, but at the end of the day, you’re just trying to help them. You see that there’s a problem with their business and you want to offer help, so there’s no need to feel like you’re pestering.
Without quick and consistent follow-up, the odds that a prospect ever responds to you are low.
As a result, lead gen will continue on for what feels like forever.
Final Thoughts on How to Cut Down Your Sales Cycle Length
Sales cycle processes are supposed to be short and sweet! Thinking that they’re supposed to be anything else than that is simply backward. Why should it take months on end for prospects to get their pain point solved and you to close the deal?
Remember, short sales cycles aren’t a factor of sales success. Rather, sales success is a matter of whether or not you can keep your cycle short and sweet. Having a long cycle is like opening the door for customers to walk right out and never return.
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