What Is a Sales Cycle?

A sales cycle is a process that companies use to identify and qualify potential customers, engage and build relationships with them, and eventually close the deal. In short, it refers to the time from the first point of contact to the closing of the sale.

This process can vary greatly among organizations, products, and services. Out in the field, no two sales will be exactly the same.

As you know, there are a variety of marketing and sales steps that lead up to “getting a customer” and “making a sale,” particularly for business-to-business (B2B) organizations.

Among industries with long sales cycles are real estate, automotive, software, consulting services, insurance, and finance. These industries typically require more time to make a sale. Typically, anything that is very expensive or requires signing a contract usually takes longer to sell.

Marketers are always looking for ways to create content that will engage their audience, generate buzz, and nurture leads in order to shorten the sales cycle. However, the longer decision-making process with some sales can present challenges.

As a marketer, it is important to keep in mind that though products and services with longer sales cycles may cost more and lead to more revenue, you cannot spend more of your budget on gaining the sale than what the sale is actually worth. This is where keeping your eye on the ROI becomes critical.

How to Shorten the Sales Cycle – 7 Tips for Faster Sales

If you want to expedite the sales process, there are a few things you can do. Below we discuss 7 that we have found to be particularly effective:

1 Sales Automation 

21% of the average SDR’s time is spent on email and 17% on research and finding cold leads to contact. Top SDRs are spending even more time doing administrative work than actual sales.

Using sales software to automate certain processes can help free up your time for other tasks. It can also allow you to focus more on building relationships with your prospects, which ultimately helps to speed up the sales process.

Start by auditing which repetitive tasks and processes you and your team members are doing. These are the best tasks to automate.

Company research and data entry are two good places to start when it comes to automating tasks. Work your way through the other tasks your SDRs spend a lot of their time on to check if there are any that can also be automated. 

Once you’ve automated your outbound sales, you can move on to more advanced techniques, such as email automation.

2 Set a Shared Goal for Sales Calls

If you can get a prospect on the phone with you, that would be great.

If you can establish a clear goal for the phone call early on and gain agreement from your prospect to work together towards that goal, it will make the conversation much more productive. 

By having a shared goal, you and the prospect can keep each other accountable and make sure that the conversation stays on track.

An agreed-upon goal is helpful for guiding a conversation. When you veer off, you know exactly which direction to head back.

A shared goal of the call will prevent either party from wondering whether or not they’re in the closing stage of the sales pipeline.

The goal of this call, for example, can be to answer any questions your prospect may have about the new document-sharing feature of the project management software that you sell. By the end of this call, you should have a clear understanding of how this feature works and how it can benefit your workflow.

Now that you understand how to guide the conversation with this goal in mind, you can guide your prospect to understand their role.

By defining your goal, you prevent yourself from wasting any time by going back over things or clarifying anything. At the end of the conversation, set a date for the next meeting and a goal for that sales call.

3 Get familiar with common sales objections.

It’s never a good idea to tell someone, “I know exactly what you’re going through!” before launching into a super general pitch. Instead, the best reps know that it’s important to not only listen for and acknowledge their objection but also to understand the root cause.

Prospects might tell you they aren’t interested in your offer.

You could use that opportunity to inquire about what tasks are taking up the most time in their day, and how your solution could help alleviate some of that pressure.

After asking a few questions, you might realize that your prospective client is understaffed and needs extra help.

When you dig a little deeper, you uncover the true source of your prospect’s problem. This helps you focus your sales pitch on their needs, rather than wasting their time with generic or unrelated concerns.

Another common objection that you can address to move prospects through the sales cycle a little faster is the price:

4 Pricing Transparency

When was the last time a cashier rang you up and informed you of a fee you weren’t expecting? Probably not recently.

No one likes getting hit with hidden fees and charges at the last minute. While it can be tempting to hide the price tag, it almost never saves time or frustration.

Rather than adding on extra charges or hidden fees, be upfront about what your prospect will receive. This will save you both time and frustration.

Transparency in pricing gives you more credibility with your prospects and prevents you from getting caught off guard by questions you hadn’t anticipated.

5 Get prospects to sign online contracts easily

What is something that everyone carries with them everywhere they go? What is something that is with you at all times?

A smartphone. A mobile device.

Sales teams who stay on top of their buyer behavior and adapt their selling processes are more successful. Signing online agreements, and doing so from anywhere, cuts down on the unnecessary back and forth with your customers.

It’s a great way to streamline the sales process. So is this next tip:

6 Mostly focus on your top-performing channels.

Some marketing methods just don’t work as well as they used to. For example, advertising in a newspaper is a thing of the past.

Focusing too much on underperforming marketing tactics will almost certainly slow down your growth.

To figure out which channel you should focus on, track your most successful channels and focus your efforts on building systems to support those.

It pays to keep a close eye on your different marketing channels and switch things up when necessary. Just because something worked last year, doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll work again this year.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different channels. You never know what will work until you try.

While there is a lot you can switch up on your internal systems and tactics to optimize and shorten your sales process, you will eventually hit your limit. One other area you can work on is yourself:

7 Be friendly, personable, and approachable.

Building genuine relationships with your prospects is one of the most important things a salesperson can do. But it’s easy for salespeople to fall into “selling” mode, especially when they have the skills and expertise to move the prospect through the sales process.

Don’t undervalue your skills by being too pushy. Be the expert, but know when to back off.

Establishing rapport with a prospect takes time, but the effort is worth it in the long run.

8 Speed Up Your Procurement Process

To speed up the sales process and prime your buyer for the sale, you can use an incremental close.

By making a small commitment, you deepen your buyer’s commitment to you, get them used to agree to things, and acquire information.

Next, plan out your “ask” or request at the end of each conversation. These should be mutually beneficial for both you and your potential client.

As you learn more about your prospective client, you should gradually increase the size and importance of your calls.

After the demonstration, you might ask for an introduction to their finance department or for a chance to sit down with their purchasing manager.

You can also accelerate your sales cycle by being more organized:

9 Plan your sales meetings.

You have probably sold this solution to dozens of people, but the prospect you’re talking to has likely never purchased this solution before.

As an experienced professional in this field, I can help guide you through the buying process and offer my expertise on potential obstacles you may face. This will not only help establish me as a trusted consultant but also shorten the amount of time it takes to make a purchase decision.

They won’t have to waste time figuring things out on their own.

If you’re waiting for your prospect to ask for help, you might be waiting forever. Proactively offer your expertise by asking during discovery, “Have you ever purchased anything like this before?” This way, you can gauge their understanding of the situation and offer suggestions if needed.

Ask, “Do you have any suggestions?”.

With your marketing teams, create a detailed timeline of when you’ll install, implement, or deliver the product.

Identify the stakeholders, including their objectives and priorities and how best to appeal to them, in order to get them on board with your proposal.

With this sales strategy, your sales process will be much easier for your prospects to navigate, and your closing rate will increase.

10 Deal with the objections right away.

If you ignore or avoid buyer concerns, they’ll only grow stronger. Instead, you should address them head-on.

Your deal will stagnate in the later stage as you try to convince the prospect to buy it.

It’s often best to delve into your prospects’ concerns as early into the conversation as possible. I once heard of a sales rep who began his sales presentation by asking if the prospect had any concerns about his product.

The anxiety of the unknown was alleviated, and they could now focus on the benefits the product offered.

Asking for and addressing objections early and often is key to a successful sales cycle. Most salespeople should start seriously hunting for objections after the discovery call. By doing this, you will be able to tailor your presentation to the prospect’s top-level priorities.

While a prospect may initially say, “It isn’t a great time right now,” or “We love our provider,” these are often just excuses.

TL;DR – How to Shorten the Sales Cycle

The time buyers can between becoming aware of their problem and buying the solution you are offering to alleviate it can always be shortened. 

First, qualify your leads: make sure you are only talking to people who are actually interested in what you’re selling. Then automate the repetitive tasks in the sales process to move prospects through the sales cycle a little faster.

You can streamline the sales process and make it as easy as possible for potential customers to buy from you. Do this by being more organized in your approach. 

Remove friction and expedite the sales cycle by addressing objections early on in the sales process. This removes any anxiety that may prolong the sale/

Keep your sales pipeline full: always be working on generating new leads, even when you’re in the middle of closing a deal.

Now that you have the best tips on how to shorten the sales cycle, go on and close more sales.

Need Help Automating Your Sales Prospecting Process?

LeadFuze gives you all the data you need to find ideal leads, including full contact information.

Go through a variety of filters to zero in on the leads you want to reach. This is crazy specific, but you could find all the people that match the following: 

  • A company in the Financial Services or Banking industry
  • Who have more than 10 employees
  • That spend money on Adwords
  • Who use Hubspot
  • Who currently have job openings for marketing help
  • With the role of HR Manager
  • That has only been in this role for less than 1 year
Just to give you an idea. 😀[/sc

Editors Note:

Want to help contribute to future articles? Have data-backed and tactical advice to share? I’d love to hear from you!

We have over 60,000 monthly readers that would love to see it! Contact us and let's discuss your ideas!

Justin McGill
About Author: Justin McGill
This post was generated for LeadFuze and attributed to Justin McGill, the Founder of LeadFuze.