I hope you've enjoyed this series of posts on what YOU can do to impact sales, illustrating how closing sales and growing your business is a multi-pronged effort, but one that you can definitely influence. We’ve already covered three of the four aspects of the sales process that you can dramatically impact; your conversion rate, the total volume of sales, and the average sale value. Today we’ll look at how shortening the length of the sales cycle is is something that you can control for greater success.
It's All About the Follow Up
This one is all about follow up folks. With a little bit of good questioning technique thrown in. Always the questions! You will have no doubt noticed how asking those compelling questions has been the common theme throughout this series.
And Those Compelling Questions
I’ve been surprised at the number of people I work with who seem to be unable to close sales to generate revenue for their businesses. They have done phenomenally well at prospecting and proposal providing, but then, crickets. Some of this is because they aren’t asking the right questions to begin with, but poor follow up is another reason sales aren’t closed in good time.
This is when you think you have a sale in the bag, and then the days drag by. And then the weeks. And months later you change the status of this hot opportunity to ‘closed – lost’ because it appears to be a hopeless case. What happened?
What Do You Really Know About Your Customer?
The reality is that sales cycle length is often out of your control. Business priorities change, employees move to other organizations, businesses are bought and sold. All of which impact potential purchasing. But all too often well-intentioned sales people let business fall through the cracks.
This may be stating the obvious, but you absolutely must have an understanding of your customer’s budget and purchasing cycle. You might have a client who is dead keen to purchase your product or service, but you’ve failed to determine his budget year. It’s only after you’ve put forward your proposal that you discover the purchase won’t be authorized until the following fiscal year. I don’t think the impact on your sales cycle length really needs to be explained!
Follow Up Needs to be a Routine Procedure
But more critical is your follow up procedure. Which actually begins before you ask for the sale. Throughout the entire sales process you are developing your relationship with your potential client – getting to know them both personally and professionally. And while you’re doing this you are filing away the details about their business that will help you manage the conversation to a successful close, and business for you. While you’re discovering what needs to happen for you to make the sale, you’ll be outlining your own procedures for implementation and onboarding. You and your prospect will both understand what you each need to do and when. You’ll be asking the questions you need answered to make sure you can shorten the sales cycle.
The Planes, Trains and Automobiles of Sales
And then, you’ll be following up. Multiple times. By phone. By email. In person, perhaps. Until you have a signed contract or a definitive ‘no’, your sales opportunity hasn’t gone away. And if you are diligent about this, (ahem, not just scheduling multiple follow ups into your task list but actually completing them!), you’ll find that your sales cycles will shorten.
And if you find that you really need help getting your follow up procedures in order, I’d be happy to introduce you to Lisa Shaughnessy at Simplified Business Workflows or Alex Suchmann at AIS Collaborations. They are both as keen on following up as I am!
Well that concludes this series on the four factors YOU can impact to drive sales growth. Selling isn’t actually all that complicated, but it does take persistence, organization, and attention to detail. And most importantly, the ability to ask those compelling questions that really are the key to selling success.
Tackle Just One to See Sales Grow
If you haven’t had the opportunity to read the other posts (Improve Your Conversion Rates for Sustained Growth, Increase Your Sales Volumes for Better Business Growth, and Increasing Average Sales Value is Like a Picnic) I encourage you to do so. And then choose one of the factors that you think you can impact the most in your business. Concentrate on that one for a while and watch what happens. With the increased forward momentum you’ll achieve, you’ll be able to address another of the four factors. Watch out world!