A career in sales isn't for the faint of heart. You must be thick-skinned in the face of adversity, have a dogged determination, and be prepared for some long days in the pursuit of the almighty sale. That's why I have the utmost respect for sales professionals and have dedicated much of my career to helping them work smarter versus harder in an effort to close more sales more efficiently. Perhaps the fastest path for doing just that is by shortening the sales cycle.
Your sales cycle is the average length of time it takes you to close a sale, from your first point of contact to a signed order. By shortening this cycle, you have the ability to call on more prospects, which will ultimately lead to more wins on the scoreboard. A shortened cycle also reduces the likelihood of obstacles getting in your way, such as additional influencers being introduced into the process or your prospect simply losing interest with the passing of time.
More often than not, it's the salesperson that creates the long sales cycle, not the prospect. Follow these tips to ensure you keep things moving.
The quickest path to a sale is one that starts with the actual decision maker, so determine who controls the purse strings before calling. If unsure, begin at the very top of the house, as it's easier to work your way down than back up.
Just as you would find it inappropriate for your doctor to recommend surgery without a prior examination, so it goes in sales. Get to know your prospect's needs and desires before pre-determining that they can benefit from what you're selling. Instead of trying to convince a prospect they need your services, move on to prospects that clearly do.
Deal with known objections early on in your conversation. By dealing with them early, you allow your prospect to focus on how to actually do business with you versus why they shouldn't.
Make it easy for your prospect to buy by offering a small trial-run type purchase versus asking them to bite off the entire enchilada before you've had an opportunity to prove your worth and develop trust.
Set your prospect's mind at ease by offering customer testimonials and case studies. As a form of comparison, offer reviews of your competitors found on third-party review sites.
Lastly, once you have a prospect's interest, follow up promptly. Find reasons to stay top of mind that add value and advance the sale. For example, instead of calling just to "check in," send them an article about a recent trend in their industry that your product or service can help them better leverage.
Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and CEO/Founder of RedRover, a sales training and marketing firm based in Memphis, Tennessee, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).