Ah, shortening your sales cycle. It’s something many salespeople dream about, but not all see come to fruition.
There are lots of benefits to shortening your sales cycle, including...
- Freeing up time to generate even more sales
- Bringing in more revenue
- Reducing the time it takes for customer drop-off
In other words, shortening your sales cycle = fewer steps, bigger impact (and more money). No wonder sales managers are always talking about shortening sales cycles.
It is, however, easier said than done.
1. Invest in quality lead generation.
According to InsideSales.com, sales reps spend up to 40% of their time just searching for people to call. Talk about a waste of time and resources.
Investing in a lead generation strategy that brings leads to you versus you having to actively look for them can slash that time from your sales cycle:
If you already have a pipeline of quality leads, you won’t need to spend as much time searching for them. That means sales reps can dedicate their time to what they were hired for—making sales.
Seal the deal.
Learn how to close sales efficiently, from overcoming objections to persuading prospects to take action, with this free handbook.
2. Be you first, a salesperson second.
Would you want to talk to you if you were always just trying to sell you stuff?
Yes, you want to make a sale. Yes, you know your stuff and exactly how your product or service can help the prospect you’re speaking with. But your prospect has no relationship with you yet, and therefore has no clue how legit you are.
That’s why it’s so important to always be your genuine self first, and a salesperson second.
Your prospect needs to get to know and trust you before they’re willing to buy from you. Spending some time building rapport with your prospects rather than jumping straight into sales mode will prove worthwhile when it comes time for them to make a purchase.
3. Set a goal for each contact.
For each of your leads, you should have all your contacts (phone calls, emails, etc.) planned out ahead of time and a goal set for each one.
Pro-tip 1: Start with small goals and work toward bigger ones from there.
Pro-tip 2: Your goals are good ones if they benefit both you and the prospect.
If you’re using a CRM, this’ll be a lot easier (and less manual). A good CRM will let you see where all of your leads are at a glance. You can then sort your leads by which stage they’re in and know exactly what your goal is for each group.
For example, your goals for the following stages of the sales cycle may be:
Stage: Initial contact
Goal: Get prospect to agree to schedule time for a call to discuss how your product or service can help them reach their business goals.
Goal: Confirm with the prospect that your product or service will benefit them, and that they’re willing and able to make the purchase.
Stage: Objection handling
Goal: If you’ve addressed objections but the prospect still isn’t ready to pull the trigger, set up a follow-up meeting with them.
Aiming to achieve these “micro goals” rather than only focusing on the bigger goal of closing the sale can make the overall sales process less intimidating and everything seem much more attainable.
By taking it step by step, aiming to achieve these “micro goals” instead of focusing only on closing the sale, you’re setting yourself up for success. You’re far more likely to close a sale at the end of your sales cycle when you’ve warmed the prospect up with these progressive “closes” along the way.
4. Do your research—don’t just wing it.
Think spending 20 minutes crafting a single email to a promising prospect is a waste of time?
Investing time into researching your prospects will save you a lot of time in the long-run, and shorten your sales cycle too.
Research your prospect.
What industry do they work in? What company do they work for? What are their business goals that you can help them achieve? (This will help you achieve your sales goal.) Do they fit your ideal buyer persona? Are they the decision-maker who can say yes or no to your product or service?
Answering these questions will help you prioritize your contact list and sound well-informed when you make that initial contact.
Research their current situation.
Why exactly is your product or service right for them specifically?
Naming the prospect’s company, a competitor of theirs, or touching on an industry problem or trend will show them you know what you’re talking about and are worth talking to.
Plus, there’ll be less need for back-and-forth with the prospect since you won’t be scrambling to figure out their situation on the fly (and maybe a lower chance of losing them in the meantime).
Research objections before hitting them with rebuttals.
Using generic rebuttals against objections is a great way to not close a sale.
Really focus on your prospect’s objections, figure out the root cause of them, research a solution, then present them a well-thought out rebuttal.
For example, if you sell productivity software, and a prospect objects to your product saying, “It’s too expensive,” you’re really shooting to miss by using a generic line like “Actually, our solution is super affordable!”
Instead, dive deeper and figure out why they’re unable to afford your product.
Asking a few extra questions might reveal that the prospect’s company is currently struggling with budget allocation. Based on this information, your rebuttal could be the fact that your productivity software will actually replace budget needs in other areas as well as give the team an extra 10 free hours a week, ultimately balancing out the check book or even saving them money. Sold.
5. Schedule your follow-ups.
In other words, don’t save follow-ups for “when you get to it.”
Scheduling your follow-ups (and even automating it, if your CRM has this feature) gives you the control over the exact amount of time that goes by between contacts. It’s important to not let too much time go by between follow-ups, so your solution stays at the forefront of your prospect’s mind.
They say 80% of sales require at least five follow-ups. So, the art of the follow-up and scheduling them appropriately is definitely something worth mastering if you want to shorten your sales cycle and close more deals.
6. Make signing paperwork a breeze.
Let’s face the facts: mobile technology is taking over the world, and printers are becoming a thing of the past.
So if you’re waiting for your almost-customer to log on to their desktop computer in order to print your contract on a physical sheet of paper in order to sign it, scan it, and send it back... you may be stuck waiting a while.
Switch to electronic documents by using a program like HelloSign or DocuSign.
Not only will you be making things way easier for your customers, but you’ll be making your own life easier too since you’ll no longer need to manually track, compile, and organize signed papers.
Make contracts a breeze
Learn how to shorten processes for documents + contracts (and speed up your sales cycle) in this webinar.
Depending on which provider you go with, you should even be able to integrate your electronic documents software with your CRM, allowing you to automate things like sending out documents and following up with confirmations of receipt.
How’s that for saving time in your sales cycle?
7. Keep your contact list up-to-date.
Let those stale leads go.
It’s important to keep your contact list fresh to maximize the effectiveness of your prospecting efforts. You don’t want to spend valuable time chasing someone who doesn’t have a good track record of responding.
To do this, set internal “expiration dates” for your call/email lists.
For example, if someone hasn’t picked up your last 10 phone calls or responded to a single follow-up email, it’s probably safe to assume they’re not interested and you should remove them from your contact list.
If you’re using a CRM like Copper, you can regularly filter out these expired contacts easily:
Ready to shorten your sales cycle?
A shorter sales cycle could be the key to closing more deals and more revenue. Use the tips above to cut down your sales cycle and build an efficient sales machine.