Long sales: how to close deals faster
Ekaterina Ukolova gives advice on speeding up a long sales cycle: where to start, how to split processes and optimize them, and what is the role of employee motivation
The sales industry operates under a set of fairly strict laws that you can follow and succeed, or you can ignore and stay in the shadows. If you are more attracted to the first option, then prepare to work hard and, equally important, learn a lot.
Where to start
First of all, you need to understand what sales cycle you are working in. Fortunately, this is not very difficult: there are only two types. If the transaction takes place in one, maximum two contacts with the client-this is an indicator of a short sales cycle, which we will not stop at today. Most of the difficulties arise if you are working with so-called long sales, that is, from the first meeting with the client to the transaction, there are at least three meetings with the consumer, between which there are also long time pauses.
In order for the complexities of a non-fast, sometimes multi-month procedure not to cast a shadow even on the truly impressive results of the work you have done, you need to follow certain rules. They will not only make life easier for you and your partners, but also strengthen your image as a professional company.
First step. Crushing
From the very beginning, you need to analyze the entire sales cycle of your company and find a way to divide it into blocks. Working with each individual stage, of course, will be much easier and because of the more detailed timeline will not allow you to miss important details and forget about the final goal. For each intermediate level, you need to create a plan and check it both at the end of each stage and throughout the entire collaboration. Thanks to a pre-planned scenario of actions, you can easily understand when things are going well, and when, for example, you are out of schedule.
Second step. Optimization
After making several deals on this plan, you can move to the next level, adding potentially useful variables and cutting off unnecessary ones. For example, if you have a number of successful or even not very successful agreements, you can already calculate the average length of transactions for each stage and for each employee. This indicator is calculated as follows: the sum of all days spent on all transactions is divided by the number of closed transactions, and then this index is adapted to your number of stages. Then you can compare all employees and analyze the methods of both the” fastest “managers and the”slowest” ones.
As a result, you will get a set of techniques and tools that should be abandoned or, conversely, the introduction of which should be encouraged. We strongly recommend to use CRM systems that allow you to set the filter “length”, thereby showing the most unprofitable transactions and a large array of potentially useful data which can be used to perform the quality of work (length of calls or the number of days spent by Manager to adapt offers to the needs of customers, average speed of answer messages and so on).
It is worth considering that the most favorable stage for changes is the stage of various negotiations and discussions. Making adjustments to this process will save you the most time and significantly reduce the average length of all your trades.
Third step. Motivation
To reduce the time profile of a sale it is very important to encourage employees to learn how to answer basic questions correctly:
How do I start a conversation with a potential partner?
After the first stage of the conversation, which can be conducted on a variety of topics in order to establish relationships, how can we move on to more important details?
How do I find the best time for a call or meeting so that you don’t get asked to contact me later?
Usually, the answers can be given based on the same CRM programs, coupled with the personal experience of managers. The main thing is to encourage employees to use these resources and objectively present the history of interaction with all clients.
Sometimes motivation is needed not only for employees, but also for future partners. Try testing a system of privileges (for example, discounts for the next order) that will be provided to customers who approved the transaction within N days.
Fourth step. Simplification
It is important to understand that for the client working with you is always a certain risk, so resort to demonstrating similar cases that you have previously dealt with, provide a detailed description of your guarantees, and do not try to hide the pricing system — it is better to make it as transparent as possible. Yes, today you will spend a lot of time on this, but tomorrow you will save a lot more.
Give up very tempting at first glance huge tables and presentations with a large number of options and tariffs: in addition to the fact that you lengthen the decision-making process with your own hands, you also make it heavier for the client, in fact turning the transaction into a nightmare. After all, each proposal must be considered, compared, and sometimes given a brief report to the boss. Don’t overplay it — usually three or four options are enough. In addition, having so many options will allow your employees to learn more of the various nuances and successfully adapt the offer to a specific client in real time.
Also, a great way to reduce the length of the transaction, which all your managers should adopt, is to practice key questions: at one of the very first stages, you need to find out from the client how and by whom the final decision on the transaction will be made. Determining the LDPR (the person who actually makes the decision) should be done as quickly as possible in order to exclude details that are not important to the buyer from the discussion.
In addition to the risk of making a large number of mistakes, a long sales cycle gives you the opportunity to establish strong relationships with your partners. Today, all or at least most organizations are aware of the advantage of mutually beneficial relationships in the long term over fleeting benefits. Just in the time it usually takes to complete a long transaction, it is often possible to achieve such an interaction and not stop at it alone.