We’d all like to shorten our sales cycles. The sooner we close a sale, the sooner we all get paid. And the less time there is for things to go wrong: a new competitor emerges from the woodwork, the prospect’s needs change, your champion moves on to a new job, and so on.
But how to do it? Let’s start by looking at where the time actually goes in a typical sales cycle.
For example, it might take you a month to set up an initial appointment. But you didn’t spend the whole month on it. Maybe you made six or seven phone calls, which took an hour of your time, more or less.
Next, let’s say it takes you another 20 hours of your time to research the customer’s needs — interview end users, walk their floor, talk to key decision makers, and so on. But by the time you’ve set up all the appointments and made visits, another month has passed.
You can see where this is going. The time you spend actually working on a sale is measured in hours and days. The time spent between these activities is measured in weeks and months. So if you want to shorten your sales cycle, the place to start is with the “between” time.
The number-one thing that stretches out the between time is lack of information. Think of the sales cycle like a production line, and information as components. If just one part isn’t there at the right time, the whole line shuts down. The same principle holds true in sales: The lack of just one small but critical piece of information can bring the entire process to a halt.
The bottom line: You do have the power to reduce your sales cycle, by making sure you gather all the information you need as soon as you can.
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