"Sales Cycle" refers to the entire process of generating business, from prospecting new leads to signing a contract, and nurturing ongoing client relationships. In business-to-business sales, this process can be frustratingly slow and difficult to predict. However, there are some strategies your organization can implement to speed up the B2B sales cycle to boost efficiency and revenue.
In B2B sales, it can take months to finalize a deal with a new client or customer. The average sales cycle length varies depending on the nature of your product or service, industry conditions, and your clients’ internal decision-making processes. The length of the sales cycle typically increases as the size of the deal (in terms of dollar value) increases. In other words, more expensive services and products involve a lengthier sales process. While a cycle can take anywhere from weeks to years, studies have found that the most common sales cycle lasts between 1-3 months.
Shortening the sales cycle can bring several significant benefits and advantages to your business. Here are some key reasons why it is in your business's best interest to prioritize accelerating the sales cycle:
Of course, while shortening the sales cycle can offer numerous advantages, it should not compromise the quality of the sales process. This isn’t about cutting corners; it’s about devoting your time and resources to the most impactful activities and eliminating time wasted on low-value activities. Balancing speed with effective relationship-building, customer understanding, and value delivery is key to achieving sustainable success. The strategies for speeding up your sales cycle as outlined in this article are designed to accelerate your process while maintaining quality and value.
We all know that not all business leads are created equal. Some prospects are a strong fit for your organization, while others will simply not convert no matter how well your sales team performs. Spending time chasing unqualified leads slows your sales process and drains your resources. Use data analytics to help you identify the leads most likely to convert into clients, and focus the bulk of your efforts on those leads. The criteria for a qualified lead will be different for each organization; determine what it means for you, and use that to help you identify the leads most likely to provide an ROI.
Automation in your sales process can accelerate your cycle in multiple ways. First, you can free up your sales force by eliminating the need for them to spend valuable time sending emails, entering data, or managing appointment calendars. By automating these kinds of tasks, your sales team can spend more time on high-value activities like nurturing client relationships and developing customized solutions for your clients. Automated sales tools can automatically send emails to your prospects when they complete an action, ensuring that they receive information in a timely manner and encouraging them to proceed to the next step. You can also send automated email streams, meeting reminders, and update client files without manual data entry. This not only saves time, but it also helps to ensure that potential clients don’t fall through the cracks because of a delay in communication.
In today’s B2B sales landscape, customers are keen to do more research than ever before when making a decision. Social proof in the form of user-generated content, testimonials, and case studies can be a powerful tool to accelerate your customers’ decision-making process. Research shows that we trust our friends, family, and peers’ input when making a purchasing decision more than we trust a salesperson. By leveraging social proof, you can supply your clients with evidence that your product or service is a sound investment, and appeal to their desire to keep up with their industry peers and competitors.
Another way to speed up your clients’ decision-making process is to create a sense of urgency with a limited time offer. B2B buying processes often involve multiple stakeholders and can be lengthy. By introducing a limited time offer, businesses can create a sense of urgency, prompting buyers to make faster decisions. The fear of missing out on a valuable opportunity within a specific time frame can expedite the decision-making process and drive action.Offering time-limited discounts, exclusive upgrades, or additional services can entice potential buyers to take advantage of the limited-time offer. This can help overcome any hesitation or resistance they may have and encourage them to move forward with the purchase. Limited time offers also give your organization a competitive advantage over your peers, which might be the factor that tips the scales in your favor.
If you want to speed up the closing process and get that signed contract, you must make the process as easy as possible and eliminate any hurdles your clients might face in taking that crucial step. In the time of mobile-first, remote and distributed work, and instant gratification, we expect digital experiences and tasks to be seamless. It is imperative that your signing process conform to these expectations. If you are still relying on scanning and emailing documents back and forth (or handling hard copies of physical documents) consider introducing an e-signature system that customers can easily access on their mobile devices. Making your sign-on process mobile-friendly means your clients can take that step wherever they happen to be at any time of day.
If a prospect is interested in your services for weeks or months only to learn later that your services are out of their budget, you’ve both just wasted valuable time. Even if they remain interested in working with you, they may need to go back to upper management or other stakeholders to get the costs approved, or revisit the topic in the next fiscal year. All of this extends your sales cycle significantly. Whether or not you choose to advertise your prices publicly is up to you. But, you should attempt to be as transparent as possible about pricing to avoid frustrating late-cycle surprises. Be sure to discuss value in tandem with conversations about price so your customers understand exactly what they’re getting for their investment.
Another feature of the modern world that has colored our expectations in business is the ultra-personalization of so many experiences. Through social media, we have become accustomed to receiving content curated according to our interests. As consumers, we enjoy the ability to choose products that appeal to our tastes, values, needs, and budget. Your B2B customers will have that same expectation.
Personalize your sales experience from the first contact. People are inherently averse to being pitched to; language that sounds too boilerplate or disingenuous will be an instant turn-off, leading to weeks or months of chasing the prospect to no avail. Train your sales team to be authentic and human in their interactions with potential customers. Think about how you would want to be sold to as a customer. Listen to the customer’s needs and concerns; address objections without dismissing them. Rather than touting the great features of your product or service, emphasize how you can solve your potential client’s specific pain points and drive their success. This is an example of an activity that requires more time upfront but can help accelerate the sales cycle in the long run.
Furthermore, a personalized approach to your sales pitch is the first step toward cultivating a long-term relationship with your client that will yield benefits for years to come.
Investing in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can be a game-changer for organizations looking to speed up and streamline their sales process. Here are several ways a CRM can help you achieve these goals:
Accelerating your sales process not only impacts your organization's revenue collection, it can affect your competitive position and commercial viability. Smart organizations evaluate their sales process at least 2x annually to see where efficiencies can be exploited to directly impact the bottom line. Talk to JTN to find out if your sales process could be accelerated or improved, and how that could affect your sales goals.