As a sales professional, entrepreneur or business owner, being able to effectively establish new client partnerships and increase sales results quickly is vitally important. When sales are going great it can be very exciting! When you have a great month you are filled with sales motivation!
But, after a while, things slow down and you hit a wall. You find yourself chasing after prospects and wondering why it is taking so long to convert prospects into clients.
You start exploring different techniques and try to find a solution. But, no matter what you try, the results are the same and the sales cycle is a much longer process than what you would like.
So where do you turn when you are stuck in sales quicksand and can’t get your prospects to move forward?
How to Shorten the Sales Cycle
Here’s how you can shorten the sales cycle and win more clients, increase sales and profits with 2 simple strategies:
1. Determine, Uncover & Clarify Challenges
If a prospect is not clear about their challenges and the impact of these challenges, this will greatly slow down the entire sales cycle. This is because the client does not yet believe their challenge is significant enough to take action, and guess what, because of this, they won’t take action! It is a waste of time for you to give information before understanding their needs, goals, challenges and problems. You are presenting a “solution” to someone who doesn’t believe they have a “problem.”
So, what do you do about this? Ask a lot of questions! Ask open ended questions. Get curious and don’t assume you understand their problem or challenge no matter how long you have been in the industry. Dig in and really find out what is going on, and ask follow up questions that focus in on the greater impact of their challenges. Uncover the impact of the current challenges on both the organization and the individuals or groups you are selling to. Your questions will help them understand and verbalize that they have a challenge or problem. Now you have the information you need to explain how you can help solve their challenge.
If you find yourself talking more than 20% of the time during your sales meetings with prospects, stop yourself, and ask a question!
2. Always Set a Clear Next Step
Have you ever heard this before?
“Thanks for your time today, your product looks great and we will get back to you soon.” Yet, you never hear back, and end up having to chase, follow up, and make multiple calls, send multiple emails to no avail. That is not fun for you, nor is it fun for the prospective client.
How do you solve this?
Well, if you are a great salesperson or great sales minded business owner, you don’t need to chase. You don’t need to pressure. You don’t need to persuade. Really. You need to set up a clear next step, and if your prospect is not ready to take the next step, they will tell you, and you will determine if they are a serious prospect or not, on the spot.
Remember, give your prospects an option to say, “No.” When you do this, all the pressure is taken off of you, and more importantly off of your prospect. That way, they do not feel like they are being “sold,” nor do they feel any pressure from you. Many of the sales coaching programs and sales coaches still are teaching the same old techniques developed decades ago that involve pressure and persuading. You do not need to do that anymore and it does not work.
Simply set up the next step at the end of your meetings. The next step could be a follow-up face to face meeting or a scheduled phone call for example. However, make sure the next step is moving the sales cycle forward and has a scheduled date, time, and location.
Map out your sales cycle and know what steps need to take place. Here is an example of a 5 step sales cycle:
- Initial appointment, qualification, discovery,
- Agreement to conduct an in-depth analysis,
- Demonstration of service or product,
- Contract review meeting,
- Signed agreement.
At the end of each meeting, you should be setting up the next meeting and next actions. Explain the next steps you both will need to take to start working together. Map it out for them and provide them with a simple document that explains the next steps with clear time lines. Ask them to commit to the next steps along the way. Guess what happens if you do this effectively? You don’t need to “close” or persuade, the sale will be made, faster, naturally, and more effectively.
These 2 steps will help you shorten your sales cycle and experience dramatically improved sales results. Don’t wait to make these changes, take action now, and make a commitment to yourself.
Recommended Books on How to Shorten the Sales Cycle:
- Rethinking the Sales Cycle: How Superior Sellers Embrace the Buying Cycle to Achieve a Sustainable and Competitive Advantage
- Cracking the Sales Management Code: The Secrets to Measuring and Managing Sales Performance
- The System: The Proven 3-Step Formula Anyone Can Learn to Get More Leads, Book More Appointments, and Make More Sales
- The 90 Day Sales Cycle
- The Sales Magnet: How to Get More Customers Without Cold Calling
Original publication date: December 14, 2009