A sales process is a little like a fingerprint. As much as you hunt, you’ll never find another company with an identical one.
Whether short, long or somewhere in between, there are always areas you can focus on to reduce the time prospects spend in the buying process.
We’ll get to those tactics shortly, but first, let’s examine some definitions and differences in the world of sales.
What is a sale process?
The sales process is the steps a sales agent takes to move a prospect from initial awareness through to becoming a customer. The sales cycle is essentially the same thing but focused on the average time taken to move each potential client through those steps.
From the customer’s perspective, the sales process is their journey with the brand. From a salesperson’s perspective, it is a roadmap: a repeatable series of actions that are optimised to achieve the best results.
Research suggests that less than a quarter of a sales executive’s time is actually spent on selling. The rest is being diverted to activities such as:
Unproductive prospecting to cold leads
Creating or tracking down content
A poorly defined sales process could be stifling achievement.
Problems here range from:
Poorly defined roles in the sales cycle
Poorly organised, or unnecessary, steps throughout the stages of the cycle
Lack of timely insight
Poor alignment with marketing
How to speed up your sales cycle?
How can you fix things?
Don’t worry, here’s the plan to speed up that sales cycle.
Locate the blockers
We’ve highlighted the usual suspects above but there are many factors that can elongate your cycle. You’ll need to start playing Sherlock to track down each one. The gut instinct of your sales team is usually a great place to start.
According to research carried out by the Aberdeen Group one defining feature of best-in-class companies is that they continually work together to align sales and marketing teams to redefine lead qualification as part of their strategy for accelerating the sales cycle.
Follow up with prospects
Top salespeople follow up with prospects at the right time, increasing the number of contacts entering the sales process.
Start lead scoring
Scoring leads is a great way to evaluate prospects and accelerate your sales process. The pipeline should be filled with prospects that align to yoru buyer personas – and clear of leads who are not ready to buy.
This speeds up the process by allowing the sales team to focus on well-qualified leads that are ready to buy now.
Review your sales pipeline
Regularly review contacts in the pipeline to identify prospects who have stopped at a stage for longer than you would expect. Then start investigating – they will likely need to be helped along or reclassified as a prospect for the future.
Monitor sales cycle metrics
Monitor the key sales metrics in order to optimise them:
Number of qualified leads
MQL to SQL conversion rate
Average sales cycle length
Customer acquisition costs
Deal close rate
Appreciate prospect timescales
When talking to a prospect, it’s important to get a proper fix on their timescale. This allows you to create short, medium and long-term pipeline channels, meaning you can adapt processes and expectations for each one.
Your normal, active sales pipeline should only contain prospects who are likely to close within your normal sales cycle.
Automation of processes is one of the most effective way to speed up that cycle.
Start with your CRM.
Are there repetitive tasks that can still be handled by your CRM but are handled manually at the moment?
Is information easily accessible to teach and staff by being stored in the cloud?
Your CRM enables you to outline your sales process, reduce data entry, store and share sales information, manage contacts and connect to marketing automation software to track and communicate with leads.
Create a standardised sales process
Differnet approaches work for different sales reps. And every sale, every lead, is again different. But don’t make the mistake of thinking each rep should just do whatever they want.
You know that your target customers have needs and issues in common. So a framework designed around that – while allowing flexibility will help your sales team perform at their best.
Sopro is an award-winning prospecting service that starts sales conversations with your ideal customers. Get in touch today to see what we can do for your sales pipeline.