A major issue facing virtually all small & mid-size companies is effectively efficiently managing sales cycle times. As sales cycles increase, so do sales costs and the ability to grow profitably is significantly hampered.
While there are myriad reasons that are contributing to longer sales cycles and sales costs, there are three key inflections points that need to be addressed by those companies wishing to bypass this trend and shorten their sales cycles.
The Sales Cycle is one of the most misunderstood concepts in sales and marketing. Often confused with either the “pipeline cycle,” or the “buy cycle,” the sales cycle actually begins before purchases are considered. Your sales cycle begins at the first opportunity that a prospect has to become aware that you exist.
This means that the focal point of you communication and outreach needs to be centered on the question, “Why should I, as a prospect, talk with you,” not “Why should I, as a prospect, buy from you?” When you take a solutions focus, you are actually contributing to a longer sales cycle.
At any given time, in any given market, there are only about 3% that are actually looking for a new or replacement solution. Another 7% may be in a consideration phase, looking to get a feel for the market. When you’re going-to-market with a focus on your products or services, you making two crucial mistakes:
a. You’re ignoring 90% of your market that are both the most open to influence, and the least likely to be looking at your competitors, and
b. You’re positioning to enter the process in the last third, where problems have already been mis-diagnosed, expectations are extreme, and you’re most likely to be commoditized.
There are hundreds of reasons prospects will talk to you. There are thousands of reasons that your customers love you. But, how many reasons (really) are there that are big enough to cause a prospect to reach deep into their pocket, write you a check, and marshal the energy necessary to make a change?
In out experience, the answer is no more than 3 - 5. Right now, look at your customer base and identify the real reasons that prompted them to hire or buy from you? We bet at least 80% of them fall into the same 3 - 5 issues.
The failure to identify, position towards and provoke those reasons leaves tremendous complexity, stalling growth. Your sales process becomes highly reactive, making it difficult to impossible to successfully differentiate. To succeed, you must eliminate the complexity.
To permenantly shorten your sales cycle allowing you to grow faster at lower and lower costs, you must:
Imagine has several programs to support these efforts: