How often do you go all-in on your sales cycle only to have leads and potential leads shut deals down before you even have the chance to lay them on the table?
If that sounds familiar, there’s good news and there’s bad news: The bad news is that if deals are being shut down, then odds are it’s because YOU, not the prospect, are making a mistake causing that to happen. The good news is that, because you’re the one making the mistake, it’s within your power to fix the situation!
To shed light on the kinds of sales cycle mistakes sales reps make that shut deals down, I’m sharing 7 of the most common mistakes that almost guarantee failed deals.
Additionally, I’m sharing how you can start correcting these mistakes in order to:
- Increase cycle conversion rates;
- Eliminate most customer objections; and
- Help close more deals in less time.
While it stings to know that you’re the one making the mistakes, the best news is that you have the power to stop making them and start securing more deals today!
What Is a Basic Sales Cycle?
Also known as a sales process, a sales cycle is a representation of the journey that sales reps go on to convert leads into paying customers. The goal of the cycle is to convert 100% of your leads into paying customers. Achieving the coveted 100% conversion rate is in major part a matter of avoiding making the 7 mistakes below!
While sales reps are going through their own selling cycle, on the flip side is their potential customers going through their own buyer’s journey.
You can think of the selling cycle like the process of going to the doctor to solve knee pain: You initially meet with a doctor who asks you questions about your pain. Then, after gathering all the information they need, the doctor proposes potential solutions. If they’re truly an expert doctor, they ensure that each of their patients follows through with the correct treatment decision to solve their pain and get back to a healthy lifestyle.
When it comes to your sales cycle, the key is to keep it as basic as possible. The simpler it is, the less likely you are to make mistakes. Hence, why I always suggest cutting your sales cycle length down to only a few stages!
What Are the 4 Stages of a Sales Cycle?
Before getting into it, are you shocked? Were you expecting to see something like a five, six, or seven-step sales cycle instead of a four-step cycle?
If so, you’re not alone!
Most salespeople follow unreasonably long sales cycle models which only make their life more difficult and make them less likely to close deals.
They do this because they’ve bought into the narrative that selling is complex, and that complex problems require complex solutions (AKA, complex cycles!).
However, the truth is that sales is simple, and that approaching it from a simple perspective manifests the best results. Hence, why the most successful B2B sales professionals keep their cycle to about four steps to close deals in a matter of days or weeks!
On the flip side, the majority of sales reps ride the struggle bus with their unnecessarily long sales cycle.
Instead of making your life more difficult with an excessively long cycle, follow my simple, 3-stage selling cycle. The three phases of a sales cycle include:
- Lead generation - siphon leads into your sales pipeline
- Qualifying leads - ensuring that the lead is qualified
- Analyzing the lead’s pain point - propose pathways forward
- Close - one final sales pitch seals the deal
By following this cycle and avoiding making any of the 7 mistakes below, you should be able to close out each cycle in less than one month.
Again selling is simple, so you don’t need a complex cycle to sell effectively!
Why Sales Cycle Mistakes Prevent You From Closing Deals
People make mistakes all the time. But it isn’t the mistakes themselves that cause problems. Rather, it’s the ripple effect impact that making those mistakes creates that causes problems.
That said, I’m sharing the kinds of ripple effect impacts that making sales cycle mistakes create, including the 7 mistakes below. Ultimately, it’s these ripple effects that shut deals down.
While these 5 impacts aren’t the only impacts that making mistakes create, they are some of the most common.
Undermining the Lead’s Trust In You
First of all, for a deal to close, your leads need to trust in your ability to deliver. This is, of course, a given, yet many sales teams regularly make preventable mistakes that erode trust.
How could a lead build a solid relationship with you, give you their resources, and give you agency over their pain point unless they trust in you?
Most sales cycle mistakes have to do with eroding trust. Ultimately without trust in the picture, the deal shuts down.
Not Invoking the Human Element of Sales
People buy from people, not companies. Even when people buy products and services over the internet without ever speaking to a sales representative, they look to online influencers and case studies to fulfill the human-to-human element of buying.
Unfortunately, many sales reps don’t put themselves out there enough. By that, I mean that they do things like talking over the phone instead of over video. On top of that, they don’t show off their genuine personality that prospects are craving to see.
As a result, leads miss out on that human element and ultimately choose not to buy.
Not only do your leads want to work with real humans, but they also want those humans to be experts at what they do. Moreover, your potential clients want to work with experts, not vendors or suppliers.
Sadly, many salespeople diminish themselves to mere gift-shop owners instead of experts in their field. As a result, their clients go looking to their competitors for somebody who appears more competent.
What’s even worse is that salespeople themselves despise being treated as a vendor when they know that they’re an expert! If only they knew that they were the ones causing themselves to be treated as vendors.
Confusing Leads and Wasting Their Time
Imagine having a problem, looking to an expert to help you understand and solve that problem, but then only getting more confused after talking with that so-called expert.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what sales and marketing teams do all the time. Instead of helping customers find clarity as they should, they only make them more confused.
Having confused leads does anything but help you close deals!
Overshadowing the Customer’s Buyer’s Journey
The hard truth is that your potential new customers don’t care about your problems. Instead, they care about their problems and whether or not you’re capable of solving them.
However, many sales reps make mistakes that end up putting all the attention on themselves instead of the customers and their buyer’s journey. It’s as if they think that selling is all about them instead of all about solving the customer’s problems.
Rather than shining the spotlight on yourself, your job is to shine that light on the prospect.
7 Sales Cycle Mistakes That Prevent You From Closing Deals
Here are 7 of the most common sales cycle mistakes that prevent sales reps like you from closing more deals in less time like you’re capable of. These mistakes create the kind of damaging ripple effect impacts that I outline above.
Instead of beating yourself up for making these mistakes, just remember that, if you’re the one making the mistake, it’s 100% within your power to change the situation for the better! You’re not at the mercy of other people’s mistakes... rather, you’re at the mercy of your willpower to stop making the mistakes!
That said, start here to correct the errors that shut deals down so that you can start living up to your full sales potential.
1. Not Qualifying Leads After Lead Generation
To begin with, many sales teams make the cardinal mistake of not qualifying their leads after sales prospecting. Specifically, they don’t verify whether or not the lead fits their:
- Ideal customer profile; and
- Ideal buyer persona.
In an effort to attract more potential customers into their pipeline, they bypass lead qualification, regardless of how qualified they truly are.
Sales reps who make this mistake forget that selling is a quality game, not a quantity game!
Think of the Opportunity Costs
When you don’t qualify leads and subsequently end up with tons of unqualified leads in your pipeline, you’re setting yourself up for a hefty amount of opportunity costs, including:
- Wasting time that could have been spent on qualified leads
- Wasting resources on shoddy leads
- Undercutting your own expertise
Of all the opportunity costs, the worst is that you have less time and energy to spend on qualified leads. Because you spend less time on them, they’ll feel as if they’re not getting the attention they need and go looking elsewhere for a solution.
2. Sending Out Free Proposals
If you follow a mainstream selling cycle with six or seven stages, odds are that the first or second stage of the sales cycle requires you to send out a proposal to leads.
Make sense? The leads need to see whether or not you’re the right fit for them, right?
The moment you send out a free initial proposal before signing the deal is the moment the deal shuts down, because:
- It crushes your level of expertise;
- Puts prospects in control of the process; and
- It puts the spotlight on you instead of the prospect.
If you’re like most salespeople, then this is probably excellent news for you, because you despise putting those proposals together and regularly getting nothing in return!
Experts Don’t Give Away Free Value
Would an expert doctor offer a free trial surgery before performing the real-deal operation? Of course not; doing so would make them look like frauds.
Therefore, you shouldn’t offer to give away free value before sealing the deal. That is, at least, if you want to avoid looking like a fraud as well!
3. Not Targeting Decision-Makers
When you’re going through the cold calling process, who are you usually targeting?
In short, if you’re targeting anybody but the decision-makers at your target B2B companies, then you’re setting yourself up for a shut-down deal.
At the end of the day, the decision-makers are the ones who hold the authority to, well, make buying decisions! Therefore, why wouldn’t you target them throughout the sales cycle? Don’t you think that you’d want to target people highest on the food chain?
Fill your CRM with the decision-maker’s contact information, and make them your first contact during the lead gen process!
Start Building the Customer Relationship Early
By connecting with the decision-maker at the very start of the sales cycle, you’re giving yourself maximum time to build a relationship with that person. Most importantly, you’re giving yourself the maximum amount of time to build trust with the decision-makers.
Without that trust there, then the deal can’t be done!
4. Not Asking for Referrals
If you’re not asking for lead referrals from your current customer base, then you’re the kind of salesperson who would sit on a gold mine and never dig into it.
Seriously! Odds are that your current customers know a person or two who would benefit from working with you. Not only that, but odds are that that referred person is a highly qualified lead.
Therefore, nothing should stop you from getting referrals from your current customers. You’ll save a lot of time on sales prospecting which will resultantly crunch the sales cycle length.
Make Your Own Life Easier
How many times have you walked into a store looking to buy a product and been met with a sales representative who clearly didn’t want to be there? Didn’t their poor attitude immediately turn you off? Of course, it did.
Don’t underestimate the power of your attitude. When you feel good, your customers are going to feel good!
Perhaps the easiest way to make yourself feel better is by taking some weight off of your shoulders. Specifically, I mean making your own life easier by asking for easy referrals for potential customers.
Again, if you’re not asking for referrals, then you’re currently sitting on an untapped gold mine!
Are you tired of opening your email every morning and getting hounded with tons of obviously automated email messages? If so, you’re not alone.
I don’t know anyone who reads a message that was clearly created and sent by a robot.
Despite that, many sales and marketing teams over-automate their marketing and sales material to an extreme level.
While you should automate different parts of your cycle, that doesn’t mean that you should automate so much that you essentially minimize you and your sales team to a bunch of robots on an assembly line.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t automate at all. However, I am saying that you should strike a balance between streamlining and turning yourself into a robot.
Delegate to Sales Team Members
Rather than automating to the heavens, streamline your sales cycle and increase workflow by delegating more tasks to your sales team members.
Unfortunately, many sales leaders get themselves stuck in the sales weeds because, instead of delegating, they take on too much work which decreases the overall speed and efficiency of the cycle.
Instead of slowing the cycle down, delegate individual pieces of the cycle to different team members and let them take charge of it.
6. Wasting Time Between Sales Meetings
How much time regularly lasts between the different stages of your cycle? One day, one week, one month?
Unless you want to close the deal off, then you can’t waste ANY time between meetings. By that, I mean that there should be a maximum of a few days between the different stages of the cycle.
The more time there is between each stage, the more likely the deal is to die off.
Decrease the Length of Your Sales Cycle
With less time between each stage of the cycle, the shorter and less complex your cycle becomes.
Here’s the thing: The longer your cycle is, the more complex it tends to get. The more complex it gets, the more likely prospects are to get distracted and lose focus of the sale.
Therefore, you need to crunch the length of your cycle by decreasing the time between each stage.
To do that:
- Have a maximum of a few days between each sales meeting
- Send follow-up reminders after every meeting
- Connect with leads on social media, particularly LinkedIn, to keep them focused
The shorter and sweeter your cycle, the less likely the deal is to shut down.
7. Overlooking Instead of Handling Objections
Imagine going to the doctor and being visibly nervous about an upcoming surgery. You’re so nervous that you’re slightly shaking and curling up in your seat. Instead of the surgeon asking, “Hey, what’s going on and how can I help ease your concerns?”, they say nothing.
It would feel a little fishy, right?
That said, imagine being in your prospect’s shoes dealing with a debilitating pain point and trying to find the right person to solve it. It would certainly make you a little nervous.
Sadly, instead of addressing those kinds of concerns and potential objections, many sales reps simply overlook them. In their mind, addressing those concerns might make the lead even more nervous and want to walk out the door.
However, it’s the opposite that is true: Taking time to hand your customer’s valid concerns actually helps secure the deal.
Respect the Prospect’s Needs and Valid Concerns
Instead of overlooking your prospect’s valid concerns, respect and address them.
By addressing those objections, you’re actually showing off how competent you are. You’re sending the message that you’re such an expert at what you do that you’ve got answers and solutions to even the most challenging objections.
Ultimately, this will uplift the customer’s trust and confidence in you.
Brainstorm Answers to Common Objections
Before walking into a sales meeting, you should be prepared. Specifically, you should be prepared with answers to common objections.
For example, you should have prepared answers for common objections like, “Why should we pick you over X competitor?” That way, you know exactly what you need to say in order to remove the objection and restore confidence.
Take a moment to put yourself in a potential customer’s shoes and consider what objection they might make. Then, prepare, prepare, prepare!
Bottom Line on Sales Cycle Mistakes That Keep You From Closing Deals
Instead of blocking your own potential, live up to it and more by correcting these 7 most common and damaging sales cycle mistakes. Until you stop making these mistakes, your sales strategy won’t have the opportunity to impact potential customers because your mistakes will undercut the strategy’s impact.
Take back your sales power starting now by correcting these mistakes! Remember, whether or not you correct them and reset yourself on the success path is totally up to you!
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