How long does your average B2B sales process take? Two months? Three months? Six months?
If you’re like most B2B salespeople, it takes an average of four months for you to reach a closed deal.
To put it very simply: The fact that it takes an average of four months to close a deal is absurd!
There is no good reason for it to take months on end to close on a qualified lead. In fact, it shouldn’t take any more than a few weeks AT MOST.
That being said, we’re sharing exactly how you and your sales team can shorten your B2B selling process down to a few days! Not only will following these tips save your team invaluable time, but it will also:
- Put you back in control of the sale;
- Give new customers a better buying process; and
- Foster solid overall business growth.
Just because it takes most B2B companies an average of four months to close a deal doesn’t mean that it’s right or ideal. Stop being average, shorten your cycle, and close more deals in less time starting now!
Why Are Most Sales Cycles So Unnecessarily Long?
Also referred to as a B2B sales cycle or sales pipeline, B2B sales processes are unnecessarily long. While they average at four months, they should only take a matter of days or a few weeks to complete.
So, what gives? If processes should be short, then why do most sales teams take an exceedingly long amount of time to execute them?
The key reason why processes are so unnecessarily long is because most sales teams abide by a traditional B2B sales funnel, and it’s the funnel itself that fosters such a terribly long process.
In short: While widely used and rarely ever questioned, traditional sales funnels are trash because they’re based on several incorrect assumptions about how the customer’s buying process and sales team’s selling process should work, including:
- B2B buyers know what their problems are;
- Sales reps should spend a majority of the time talking about themselves; and
- Sales reps should willingly give value away for free.
While each of these assumptions are completely incorrect, most sales teams still live by them! Then, when it takes months on end to close a deal, they scratch their heads wondering what could possibly be wrong.
Think of a sales funnel as a framework or foundation for the sales process. Therefore, if you base a sales process on a traditional funnel that is inherently flawed, it won’t end well.
Here’s How to Significantly Cut Down the Length of Your Sales Process
Not only do you probably despise the fact that it takes months on end to close deals, but the longer your process is, the more likely you are to lose the deal.
Moreover, the longer the sales process, the less likely you are to close the deal!
Customer success and your success comes down to whether or not you can shorten up the sales cycle. Here’s exactly how to do just that:
1. Ditch Your B2B Sales Funnel for Good
This one goes without saying: because sales funnels are inherently flawed and are the foundation of the sales process, then it only makes sense to ditch them for good.
At the end of the day, sales funnels don’t accurately reflect how customers should come to make purchasing decisions. Rather, they’re based on flawed logic that never leads to anything worthwhile.
Remember, just because everyone is doing something doesn’t mean that you should do it too! Sales funnels are no exception.
2. Streamline Lead Generation
Lead generation is the first step of the selling process, and it’s a step in which sales professionals commonly waste a significant amount of time.
Rather than maximizing their time with solid methodologies, they simply wing lead generation without having a clear direction to head towards.
In sum, lead generation can either set the stage for a short and solid sales process, or an exceedingly long and complicated process.
Unless you want to spend months trying to close a deal, you need to streamline lead generation.
Refine Your Target Audience
To begin with, don’t even start generating leads unless you know who your ideal B2B company is. More specifically, don’t even start lead generation unless you have:
- A clear and detailed ideal prospect profile for target B2B companies; and
- A clear and detailed ideal buyer persona for the decision-makers at those B2B companies.
When it comes down to it, what you’re trying to do is turn your ideal target company and its top stakeholders into caricatures. Literally! Draw out your target audience as if you were trying to turn them into detailed caricatures.
And don’t just consider surface-level details, such as the size of the company and whether or not they can afford you. Additionally, consider company culture and brand messaging to get a deeper sense of the company’s identity.
You’ll know that you’ve gotten detailed enough when you can describe your target audience to a complete stranger and they’ll be able to grasp who you’re trying to reach.
Create Inbound Marketing Content That Guides Leads
When it comes to inbound marketing content, a lot of it is just noise. Just because you’re putting out consistent social media posts and articles doesn’t mean anything unless they add value to your lead’s lives.
Instead of just putting content out there and calling it a day, generate and post content that will help guide new leads through their buyer’s journey.
For example, if you’re a sales strategy company, get with your marketing team to create content that will help guide your leads through their buying process. Show them how your company is unique, and give them hints at how you’ll help take their business to the next level.
Remember, there is no such thing as something for nothing! Don’t expect to get a return on your inbound content unless you offer something valuable in return.
Focus on Warm & Hot Leads First
Once you compile a list of leads, focus on hot and warm leads before moving on to cold leads.
Hot and warm leads are B2B companies that you already have some connection with. With an established connection, you’re more likely to gain traction.
For example, maybe you have a touchpoint of contact with someone at one of the companies, or you’ve already pitched to them before.
On the other hand, cold leads are B2B companies that you have no connection with. While you shouldn’t leave them in the dark, focus on gaining momentum with warm and hot leads before jumping on cold lead opportunities.
Use the 1-Minute Cold Outreach Tactic
Outbound prospect ghosting you? No problem!
Just pull out the can’t-fail, 1-minute cold outreach tactic that works for both cold calling and cold emailing.
What exactly makes the tactic so effective?
Think of it this way: It’s really easy for leads to ignore you when there is a screen or phone between the two of you. However, it’s much harder for them to reject or ignore you when they’re forced to see your face.
If you’re tired of spinning your wheels but going absolutely nowhere with cold outreach, then the 1-minute cold outreach tactic is your best bet!
Follow-Up, Follow-Up, Follow-Up
Don’t expect to get anywhere in sales if you’re not consistent with follow-up.
At the end of the day, what separates the winners and losers is usually consistency.
You can have the best sales strategy in the world, the best marketing strategy in the world, and the best product or service on the market, but it’ll all go to waste if you’re inconsistent with follow-up.
3. Lead Qualification
When it comes to lead qualification, most sales teams let prospects slip right out of their hands. It’s as if they walk into the initial sales meeting and say, “Thanks for being here- the door is right over there in case you need it!”
Not only do they let prospects slip right out of their hands, but they turn what should be a single meeting into several that are long and drawn out over time.
Seriously, it shouldn’t take more than one meeting for you to qualify the lead and for the lead to get a strong feeling that they’re in good hands!
Not only is it entirely possible, but unless you keep the initial qualifying call a single call and not multiple, you’re setting yourself for failure.
Turn Yourself Into a Surgeon
From now on, think of the initial lead qualification sales meeting like a doctor’s appointment, in which you are the expert doctor and the lead is the patient.
Imagine that you’re a renowned back surgeon and are seeing a new patient for the first time. When the patient walks into your office, what do you do? Do you let the patient take control of the situation, diagnose themselves, and then tell you what surgery they need to have done? Or, do you ask them in-depth questions about their symptoms, listen attentively, and then offer to meet again for further analysis so that you can offer a clear diagnosis? If you’re an expert surgeon, then of course you’re going to control the situation by asking questions instead of letting the patient tell you how it is.
Believe it or not, most sales reps turn themselves into patients! Instead of acting like the expert, they let the prospect take over as if they know what’s going on.
Instead of being dominated by your prospect, turn yourself into an expert surgeon by asking direct questions to get to the core of their symptoms. Then, once you have plenty of information, set a hook to get them to come into the next meeting.
For example, immediately set up the next meeting so that you can offer them a complete diagnosis of their pain point.
By turning yourself into a surgeon, not only will you stay in control of the qualification meeting, but your prospect will feel as if they’re in the presence of an expert who they can’t afford to lose.
From now on, make your sales approach like that of a surgeon!
Ask for Referrals
So, the lead isn’t qualified? Don’t let the initial meeting go to waste.
If you and the lead aren’t a good fit for one another, you should:
- Ask them for a referral; and
- Give them something valuable in return.
No lead is a bad lead unless YOU make them worthless!
4. Solidify Your Expert Status
After the initial qualification meeting, continue to think of yourself as an expert surgeon who is now ready to formally diagnose their patient’s pain point.
This should be the last sales meeting you make before the final pitch in which you lay the deal down on the table.
The goal of this meeting is to:
- Reveal what the prospect’s real problem is;
- Figure out what the prospect’s desired outcomes are; and
- Educate the prospect on how they can get to that outcome.
You already know what your prospect’s symptoms are, now it’s time to formally diagnose them!
Reveal the Potential Customer’s Pain Point
Don’t think for a second that your potential customers know what their problems are and how to fix them. If they did, you would serve no purpose in their life.
Now it’s time to formally diagnose the prospect’s problem. Of course, this problem should be something that your product or service can fix.
When revealing the pain point, be sure to deliver the news as simply as possible. The last thing you want to do is confuse the prospect or make them feel as if it’ll be impossible to fix.
Therefore, keep things short, sweet, and to the point!
Close Their Gap
Before proposing what to do about the prospect’s pain points, you need to do a little bit of digging. By that, we mean that you need to figure out what the prospect’s desired future outcome or vision is.
For example, your prospect might run a social media marketing business, but what is their end goal? Do they want to run the largest social media marketing business in the world, completely dominate their target market, or something else?
Once you uncover what that desired future outcome is, make it clear that there is a gap between where they are now and where they want to be.
By doing so, you’ll:
- Make the prospect feel understood
- Show the prospect that they need your help to reach their desired outcome
- Light a flame of enthusiasm
Once you educate them on their gap, immediately set up a date for the final sales pitch.
DO NOT Send a Free Proposal
At this point in the process, prospects might ask you to send a proposal.
However, if a prospect ever asks you to send them a proposal, DO NOT do it!
Free proposals are perhaps one of the worst sales tools in the toolbox.
Because the moment you send out a free proposal is the moment you put 100% of the power into your lead’s hands. All of a sudden, you’ll be sitting around waiting forever for them, and the sales process will unnecessarily drag on for weeks.
If a prospect ever asks you to send them a free proposal, kindly deny them and say something like this: “A proposal? I don’t know you well enough to send you a proposal! Why don’t we set up another meeting so I can understand you more?”
By doing so, you’ll stay in control of the say, further solidify your status as an expert, and keep the process at an appropriate length.
5. Close With a Final Sales Pitch
By this point, you’re ready to get a signature on the dotted line!
You’ve identified the symptoms, diagnosed the pain point, and revealed the desired future outcome... Now it’s just a matter of proposing a no-brainer solution!
If you’ve done your job well up until this point, the final pitch should be a breeze.
Not only that, but it should take no longer than one week to completely close the deal. In many cases, you can get a firm ‘yes’ on the day of the final pitch.
Propose a Pathway Forward
If you were a surgeon instead of a sales rep, what you would do next is to propose a strategy to get the surgery accomplished WITH time constraints.
You can’t just say, “Alright, here’s what we need to do. When do you want to get it done?”
Rather, you need to add time constraints so that the prospect is aware that they don’t have all the time in the world to give you a ‘yes’. The longer it takes for them to give you a ‘yes’, the more time there is for their problem to get worse!
Again, if you’ve done your job well up until this point, the prospect will have little reason to say no.
If you want to create the greatest B2B sales pitch in the world, take advantage of sales storytelling!
Close When Emotions Peak
By the end of the sales pitch, prospects should be feeling a major sense of urgency. By now, they know they have a problem, they know you’re the expert who can solve it, and they understand that solving the problem is essential if they want to reach their future desired outcome.
It’s important to lay the deal down on the table as their sense of urgency is peaking. If you miss out on this key moment, the odds that you end up closing are slim.
Regardless of the situation, your prospects are going to be emotional. Therefore, you might as well use their emotions to your advantage.
There is no negotiation in business-to-business sales. Once you set your (fair) price, it’s over.
Would an expert surgeon negotiate on the price of a surgery? Of course not.
Therefore, you shouldn’t negotiate either, or you risk:
- Damaging the ensuing customer relationship
- Getting jipped on your end of the deal; and
- Stripping yourself of expert status
However, just because you shouldn't budge on price doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible. For example, setting up a payment plan is completely acceptable.
You might think you’re being nice by negotiating, but you’re really just setting the stage for trouble.
6. Execute the Pathway & Deliver the Solution
You made it to the end! If you did things the right way, then it shouldn’t have taken you more than a few weeks to get to this point. Depending on the size of the B2B company and how many decision-makers there are, it may be closer to a few weeks than a few days.
Now all that’s left for you to do is solidify the pathway or strategy, move forward while delivering the solutions, and keep the customer’s desired outcome in mind.
While you’ve already converted the prospect into a paying customer, don’t underestimate the importance of delivery. There is no easier way to lose a prospect’s respect than to be on top of your game before the deal is signed only to completely fall off the rails afterward.
Furthermore, if you want to solidify sales success for the short and long terms, then stay accountable for what you said you could deliver!
Solidify the Customer Relationship
When it comes to relationships, people are less likely to remember what you say and more likely to remember how you make them feel. And this couldn’t be more true for sales relationships!
While you do need to stick to your word and execute the solution, don’t underestimate the power of making others feel good.
Believe it or not, strong customer relationships can be your greatest B2B sales asset. Just because you’ve secured the paying customer doesn’t mean that the sales game is over yet!
Final Thoughts on How to Shorten Your B2B Sales Cycle
Bottom line: There is no valid reason for a sales process to last for months on end. Unless you've completely botched lead generation and are trying to sell bottled water to a fish, you should be able to close sales deals in a matter of days or a couple of weeks.
Your ability to close more deals in less time comes down to you. And not only that, but your ability to close more deals in less time has the potential to create and sustain business growth into the future.
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