Nothing is more frustrating than a sluggish sales pipeline. If your pipeline moves at the speed of a sloth, it’s time to pick up the pace. Here are six strategies to turbocharge your sales cycle and close more sales faster.
1. Automate, Automate, Automate
In case you didn’t get the message from the heading, it’s time to automate as much as possible. Take a hard look at tasks that team members do repetitively and automate them to the extent possible. Squeeze every ounce of juice out of your CRM. Automate lead distribution. Don’t let a lead sit in a database until a manager assigns it. Predefine how leads will be distributed (based on territories, for examples) and then automate. Set up a scoring system to automate lead prioritization. Your sales reps shouldn’t be wondering where to start on their leads lists. This makes sure the best leads get the first follow-ups. Automate your product information management too. Don’t waste time looking for sales content; automate the repository so marketing materials are never more than a click away.
2. Start with the Right Person
Sales in the B2B world can be complex. When the purchase approval process involves multiple players, it slows down the sales cycle. Keep the flow going in your sales pipeline by starting the process with the right person. Do your legwork and start with a person that has the authority or financial ability to make a purchase. Of course, you might not be able to start with the decision-maker, but work your way through the gatekeepers as quickly as possible. Don’t be afraid to be flexible when it comes to meeting with senior executives. They eat breakfast too, suggest an early morning meeting. Be prepared with demonstrable results your other clients have achieved. Meet C suite decision-makers with confidence, but not arrogance to establish rapport.
3. Be Open and Upfront about Pricing
When was the last time you were pleased to find out that your final bill for anything was higher than you anticipated? You can’t turbocharge your pipeline if it is clogged with unqualified leads. You may think you are softening the blow by incrementally mentioning fees and associated costs but what you are really doing is undermining your credibility. Upfront transparency when it comes to total cost serves two purposes: first, it keeps you from pursuing leads with a budget that is not aligned with your offering and secondly it shows that you are open about cost and believe you are providing real value.
4. Follow Up Quickly
If you want to see sales acceleration you’ve got to put the pedal down. Be the fuel that propels the deal forward. Follow up on a timely basis. InsideSales report states that 50% of buyers would choose the vendor that responds first. The odds of the lead entering the sales process are 21 times higher when contacted within 5 minutes versus 30 minutes after the lead’s submission.
Use your CRM to schedule calls and automate emails. The timely reply shows respect to the prospect, thus increasing your odds of winning the deal.
Besides, have a plan for each interaction and an identifiable outcome before you engage. If you’ve helped others make this purchase, you know the journey every step of the way. Put that knowledge to work by assigning a goal to each communication. If the goal is to make sure all questions about product delivery terms are answered, then make sure the right parties are invited to the call or the meeting. Keep the focus on answering questions about the delivery and don’t end until all of them are answered. Sounds like common sense? Failing to follow up quickly and formulating a goal for each interaction are the easiest ways to shorten the sales cycle, but are the most commonly overlooked.
5. Understand Objections
Don’t view objections in a negative light. They are actually positive signals. An objection is the customer’s way of saying they are giving your offer serious consideration, but see obstacles to making the purchase. Don’t be afraid to ask for objections. Then really listen to objections and explore the reasons for the objection. The objection may be a symptom of another problem that needs to be addressed. When a customer’s objection is about implementation, it doesn’t help to assure them with platitudes such as “implementation is so easy” if the underlying problem is that they don’t have the skills or the time to devote to the project. So, when the client says “This is a great solution, but I don’t think we can implement it,” take the time to dig deeper. The problem may be as complex as unidentified pain points that you haven’t addressed or as simple as offering training. You won’t know until you stop talking and start listening.
6. Tailor Marketing to all Stages of the Sales Process
Make sure your content marketing is more than just lead generation. Leads are great, but you want to move them through the sales cycle as quickly as possible. Offer content to buyers at all stages of the process. Whether they are just starting to explore your product, determining compatibility, or are in the throes of implementation, make sure you are providing the content that meets them where they are in the process. Go back to step one and automate where appropriate. Deliver your content over multiple channels and in different formats. Offer case studies that are relevant to the buyer. Match your materials to your market segments. By the time you have your opening conversation, your lead should already know something about your product and have read one or more pieces of content. According to Forrester Research, 82% of buyers have to engage with at least 5 pieces of content of the winning vendor before making the purchase decision.
As you have further conversations, the marketing materials should match the cycle too. Continue with relevant content long after the deal has closed. Subsequent sales should move even quicker.
By automating what you can and focusing the human element where it is most valuable you can shorten the sales cycle and restore robust flow to your pipeline.