Like it or not, your company's sales volume is inextricably linked to its sales cycle -- the selling sequence an average customer navigates during the purchasing process.
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By streamlining elements of the sales cycle, you can accelerate the process . . . And your sales volume.
There are only so many hours in a day. The quicker your business can close a sale, the quicker you can move on to the next customer. But to accelerate the cycle, you'll need to examine every step of the selling process and find time wherever you can. Here are some tips to help you get started.
The qualification stage separates serious buyers from tire-kickers. You can waste an enormous amount of time pitching your product to someone who has neither the interest nor means to close the deal. If you are currently qualifying buyers in-house, you might want to think about farming it out to a telemarketing firm who will prospect and pre-qualify customers so your sales team can focus on selling to genuine buyers.
Sales people who design a new pitch for every client usually end up recreating the same wheel over and over again. Although presentations need to be tailored for individual clients, your company could shorten the sales cycle by relying on a handful of presentation templates that can be customized for each potential buyer. PR professionals could accelerate the process even more by helping you to create templates that are finely-tuned into the frequencies of the marketplace.
During the proposal stage, the terms of sale are presented to the client. Obviously, the sales rep has to be the driving force behind the proposal. But if salespeople are responsible for documenting the terms for each sale, their time is being misspent. An effective assistant should be able to translate the sales rep's instructions into written form and recognize issues before they become problems.
There are a lot of reasons why negotiations can drag on longer than they should. Sometimes, the customer doesn't have enough information to make an informed decision and uses negotiation as a way to extend the learning process. But in many cases, negotiations drag on because the people who are negotiating aren't the real decision-makers. Instead of talking face to face, the actual decision-makers communicate through intermediaries, which makes the process take a lot longer. To avoid this, your sales people need to be trained to identify the real decision-makers early in the process. At the same time, they should be given enough authority to close the deal on their own, without having to seek approvals from upper-management at every turn.
When a sale gets bogged down during the close, it's almost always because the sales rep lacks timing or ability. If the client isn't satisfied with the sales cycle events leading up to the close, it's going to be difficult to seal the deal. On the other hand, some sales reps let the close drag on because they don't have the skills to land the sale. Either way, you can dramatically streamline your sales cycle by training your team in effective closing techniques and pairing inexperienced reps with seasoned veterans.