Chase less, close more: how to shorten your sales cycle

Long sales cycles are the stuff of nightmares for most sales teams. Imagine spending effort and resources on nurturing leads for months, nay years, and just when you think the sale is close to fruition, they suddenly write you off. 

Such challenges of professional selling must make you feel trapped in a classic Sisyphus dilemma.

If you don’t want to push the proverbial rock up a hill all day, only to watch it roll back down again, it’s recommended that you keep the sales cycle short and efficient. When customers buy faster, you will gain greater market share, faster company growth, and better cash flow. 

How can you help your team attain sales quotas faster? This article helps answer that question.

But first, let’s try and understand what a sales cycle is.

Understand the sales cycle?

A sales cycle refers to the entire workflow starting from the first point of contact with the lead and extending until the sale is closed. It involves efforts by the sales team to:

  1. Attract leads
  2. Connect with them
  3. Qualify if they have the intent to buy, and weed out the rest
  4. Maintain their interest in the solution
  5. Answer their questions
  6. Convert them into customers.

Now on to a collection of great customer acquisition strategies that speed up the purchasing decision without compromising your relationship with the customer.

8 ways sales leaders can shorten their sales cycle 

Typically expensive goods or services, like a new industrial machine, timeshare, or a physical server, are slotted as high-consideration purchases. You need to engage with them over several touchpoints (such as calls, meetings, email marketing, white paper download) and give customers reasons to invest in your solution.

All these interactions and convincing take time, which is why the sales cycle tends to be longer.

But the cycle’s duration can be shaved off by at least 5% to 20% with the right attitude and efficient processes. 

Here are some ways in which you can build lean sales cycles and attain sales quotas faster for your business:

1. Identify and focus on the target market

Going after the wrong leads is an example of the gross waste of your sales team’s effort, time, and budget. To avoid such a scenario, you need to build buyer personas aka the ideal buyer characteristics. This will help you reach out to the right people within the target market and secure quality leads.

Understanding your target buyer’s pain points, responsibilities, career and lifestyle preferences, and motivation to make purchases will help you better plan your sales strategy and customize sales messages. In turn, this will ensure that your sales cycle is kept short and sweet.

2. Eliminate all cold leads

If your CRM has a lot of cold leads, prospects that are unlikely to convert, you need to find and get rid of them asap.

For example, if a lead does not respond after 12 days of multiple follow-ups, then it can be classified as ‘cold’.

These are prospects who will not want to buy from you, even if you share the most creatively written email or the most convincing whitepaper. So, instead of focusing your marketing and sales efforts on disinterested parties, divert it to nurturing qualified leads aka those who have shown genuine interest in purchasing the product or service.

Selling only to qualified leads makes the transition from lead to sale much faster.

3. Acknowledge and field objections upfront

Let’s face it, your prospects are likely to have some sort of objections to your sales pitch. 

Ignoring their issues and spouting generic features of the solution may seem easy but you are wasting precious one-on-one time with the potential client. Instead, it would be smart to latch onto these pain points or objections and try to establish how your product can help.

For instance, if a prospect says that they do not have the budget for your solution you can tell them how buying from you can help with cost-saving down the line (in terms of energy or manpower costs). Or, if they say that they don’t have the time to listen to your sales pitch, you could work into the conversation the many ways in which your product’s efficiency-enhancing features can free up their busy schedules.

Avoiding the objections will only drag the sales cycle further, as their underlying anxieties are never resolved. Instead, you could consider bringing up some of these common concerns by proactively asking, “Do you see any reason for our solution not being a good fit for you?”

Addressing their concerns head-on not only projects the sales reps confidence in the product but also builds the prospect’s faith in you as they see your intent to help solve their issues. Also, your demos can be tailored to demonstrate the features that will appeal most to the lead, based on the insight secured, so that it’s far more effective.

4. Make document approval touchfree

Even after the prospect agrees to buy your solution, the sales cycle can extend by days and months because of the snail’s pace at which traditional paperwork progresses. 

eSignature solutions such as SignEasy make it so incredibly easy for you and your clients to sign on the dotted line, without ever exchanging paper, contacting a courier service, or touching a pen, printer or scanner. And the sales contract can be signed and shared from anywhere, any device, and anytime.

What’s more, SignEasy allows you to track the document and remind the signers if they miss the deadline. It also integrates seamlessly with productivity-enhancing tools (including CRMs), so that your team members don’t need to take a break from selling, and can sign in the flow of work.

5. Align your sales pipeline with the customer journey

Most buyers tend to be at different stages of readiness to buy your product. Those in the awareness stage are just starting to understand the need for solutions that you offer. Then, they move to the consideration stage where they are comparing brands and options in terms of value, effectiveness, and even expertise in the space. Then, once they purchase your product, it’s time to offer customer support and find ways to retain them as loyal customers.

Each of these steps requires a different sort of sales and marketing messaging and format to convert the leads quickly into paying customers. 

So, start with understanding your complex customer journey. After which, you simply have to align your marketing and sales pipeline with the customer journey to remove friction and enhance sales effectiveness. 

6. Optimize the sales process

Time is literally money for the sales team. Your sales processes are inefficient if they are not actively generating more leads and converting customers for the major chunk of their day. 

Unfortunately, the average salesperson spends just 36% of their time on selling, while the remaining workday is consumed by admin tasks. 

To beat this statistic, you could consider automating much of the non-sales tasks using CRMs. Also update the age-old sales workflows, such as dealing with physical paperwork, using eSignature solutions. 

By improving the productivity of the sales team, you will effectively condense the sales cycle.

7. Give your prospects all the support they need

Sometimes, prospects need a detailed report on the ROI to convince the management. Or a customized demo for a specific use-case. Or maybe a freebie that will sweeten the deal.

You need to do whatever it takes (within reason) to get the client to sign on the dotted line. 

Sometimes, to show agency you could offer support even if the client does not ask for it. 

Some of the other things you can do are:

  1. Offer customer support on the free trial
  2. Create time-sensitive offers 
  3. Offer client testimonials and referrals
  4. Deliver sector or vertical-specific use-cases

8. Be transparent about pricing

Don’t ever hide the cost of your high-ticket product just to prolong the conversation.

If your solution is expensive, tell your prospect about it upfront. This way, you only need to chase leads who can afford to buy it.

9. Others

  • Encourage your team to respond to leads quicker. It is especially helpful to set TATs on your sales engagement, especially if you are the leads are located in different timezones 
  • Try to get introduced to the decision-maker earlier on in the cycle, as they are the ones who hold the strings to the company’s purse 
  • Create a tightly defined sales process, so your team can react quickly to different scenarios in the sales cycle
  • Identify the channels that generate the leads that close quickest and prioritize them

Ready to accelerate your sales cycle?

Now that you know how to attain your sales quotas faster, just review your existing sales cycles and see what can be optimized.

If you want a quick win, you just need to incorporate an eSignature solution into your sales workflow. This is sure to cut down your sales cycle by at least a week! 

Find out more about SignEasy and our eSignature solutions for sales teams here.

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