We meet with thousands of CEO’s, Sales VP’s, Sales Managers and sales reps each year and besides wanting to get more qualified opportunities in at the top of the sales funnel, without exception the question they ask is, how do I condense my sales cycle?
In reality the answer is “fill the top of the funnel with better quality prospects”, this takes discipline and requires the sales individual and the company to understand and be able to articulate what the business, rather than the technical, proposition is.
Forget about the features, forget about the benefits…sales people should allocate 80% of their effort into understanding the prospects’ business need and then be able to relate how the solution fulfills or satisfies that need and helps the prospect get to their destination quicker.
To uncover and maximize business need, great questioning skills have to be used. Sales people just aren’t good enough at this and so end up having technical conversation to low down the food chain.
Sales teams can only uncover and develop business need by working with the individual(s) who have the ability to allocate or create budget, the ability to make the decision and the ability to instigate the purchase order. Why would you deal with anyone else?
If a sales person reports back on a meeting and says “they have no budget”, “they already have one” or “the timing is not right”, they’re probably talking to someone who has no authority, as the person in authority can change all of those elements.
Make sure the prospect is on the same page as you and understands all of the steps that need to be completed prior to them buying your solution, which is going to help them reach their goals and objectives. They have to buy in to your timetable of events and the resources you will require to have access to on their side. In other words take control and set the agenda.
Sales people don’t want to hear NO, they don’t want any bumps in the road, however if they embraced potential objections they could turn them to an advantage and accelerate, rather than slow down, the sales process.
Effective questioning and objection handling is what separates the great sales people from the average and these are the people who have great close ratios and speedy sales cycles.
If the result of a meeting is positive, next steps and actions need to be agreed, not verbally but confirmed in writing and dates put on schedules. Too many sales people send proposal with no agreed review. Don’t send a proposal without a date in the calendar to present the proposal, then you are able to handle any potential objections and reconfirm the buying process and timetable. Emailing a proposal to a prospect is not a commitment from their side if they don’t agree with a next step.
The final point to be made is that technology sales people get paid good money, often VERY good money. Don’t expect it to fall in your lap, you have to be persistent and drive the sale through to conclusion and make it happen within your time frame.
In summary, reducing the sales cycle, or moving opportunities from pipeline to close quicker is about taking control. Start the sales at the point of authority, fully understand business needs and drivers, set the agenda and timetable, handle objections early and finally keep things moving by being persistent. Very rarely does a sales take more than 6 weeks to close, once the prospect has decided they need to change and buy.
Operatix work with some of the world’s biggest technology companies to accelerate sales from SMB to Enterprise markets and developing success in channel and direct sales teams. Get in touch with us for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org