Partners in Performance Blog

Selling Cycle is NOT One, Two, Skip a Few

When I am driving to a destination, unless I am in site-seeing mode, I plan my route and look for the fastest way to get there. That’s true for many people. But when it comes to selling, it’s astonishing how this simple concept isn’t tackled with the same fervor and consistency.

A client recently told me that the sales cycle for their business is a “long process and it just takes time.”  I hear this a lot. In fact, it’s what I told myself in my early selling years. I was selling an intangible, high ticket service to multiple buyers. I told myself that this was a complex sale and it just takes time. That was then. Now I ask myself and the people I coach different questions.

  • “What if your sales cycle is long because of what you’re doing? Or not doing?”
  • “What if you could shorten the sales cycle from 8-10 steps to only 3?”
  • “What if you could map out and document the shortest route possible to achieve the most profitable sale?”

It seems to me that figuring out how to eliminate this sales mistake would be time very well spent, especially if you’re a sales manager working with a team of people who are each doing their own thing. When asked to spell out the steps in their selling approach, the answers I get are often fuzzy, inconsistent and not specific. And of course, there’s nothing documented which makes it difficult to replicate. We know the risk. While sales people may be doing THEIR best, it is not THE best. And that directly impacts sales results.

Sales Cycle Example

For my business, I have ‘Sales Maps’ for 4 different scenarios. This  example is how I plan to close a complex sale in 3 steps. Does it always work? Not necessarily. But it usually does and it certainly would never work if I didn’t have the plan mapped out in the first place. Remember  ̶  your steps will be different. The key point is that you figure out and document your ideal.

  1. Step One: Meeting with decision maker: The sales process within this meeting is structured, highly focused on uncovering needs and is designed to close for a meeting with other key stakeholders that will influence the decision. The goal is identify tentative dates for meeting two. Note: if asked to prepare a proposal at this point, I advise the client that the solution developed will be better if it reflects the input from key stakeholders on his team.  I also know that if I jump to a proposal after Step One, I run the risk of getting resistance from other decision influencers who have not been engaged and I may get push back on pricing. By involving the key stakeholders in a second meeting, I get their ‘buy in’ and I can demonstrate the value they will be getting and that prevents push back on price.
  2. Step Two: Meeting with key stakeholders: Again, I use a well planned and structured sales process which focuses heavily on uncovering needs and gaining different perspectives. I get rich information I need to make a compelling proposal. The goal of this meeting is to book a meeting for a proposal presentation.
  3. Proposal Presentation Meeting: Using a well planned and structured process, we walk through the proposal and address key questions and concerns along the way. The sale is a natural conclusion of this meeting because everybody sees their ‘footprint’ on the proposal. The goal is to close the sale by scheduling dates and initiating next steps to get the project underway.

Whatever your sales cycle looks like please, please, please! do the following:

In between each step, before ending each meeting or conversation, have a concrete call to action – a timed next step that moves the action forward. There is nothing that contributes more to a long sales cycle than leaving a meeting with next steps loosely arranged.

Always Be Closing. Obtain commitment from your client to DO something that moves the action  forward right then and there. Just get it inked before you leave.

I am eager to hear from you. Leave me a comment. And do it NOW while it’s fresh in your mind!

This entry was posted by TanjaParsley on May 16, 2012 in Closing Skills, Sales Process, Sales Strategy, Selling Cycle. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback.

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