The Pain Of Long Sales Cycles
What are the main things that contribute towards a longer than necessary sales cycle? It is usually along the lines of:
- Improper planning, usually an insufficient sales process and a poor follow-up plan post sale.
- Indecisive customers due to lack of product or service understanding, how it will solve their problem or add value to their business because it has been poorly communicated to them.
- Poorly researched buyer’s persona, (a profile of your ideal customer)
Chasing unqualified or improperly qualified leads can be a huge waste of time, This can lead to a certain level of doubt and decreased morale in your business, while also leaving some prospects doubtful of what your business is offering.
So How Can I use Inbound To Shorten The Sales Cycle?
1. Adopt a consultative sales process.
This type of sales process considers the customers buying experience. The stages and actions are defined in terms of the customer, you will be able to clearly see where leads begin to drop off and which stage of the sales cycle takes the longest. Follow this six-stage consultative sales process as a great example. By truly consulting and helping people you will accelerate their trust in you, which speeds up a sales cycle.
2. How does your offering benefit your prospect?
Explain clearly and simply how your offering can benefit your prospect and deliver a solution to the problem have. Your prospect wants value, so make sure that they understand exactly what they’ll be receiving and why it is superior to the competition, this way they can make a decision to buy quicker.
3. Develop a customer persona.
This is a fictional representation of your ideal buyer, it\’s not just another way of wording Target Market. You should be able to go into quite a bit of detail when describing this persona. Understand factors such as:
- career info,
- relevant hobbies,
- social media use
Most importantly you need to understand the symptoms of problems which you solve. This enables you to guide the conversation to focus on whier problems and hence make proposing a solution easy.
Do thorough research on these factors and even give your persona a name, especially if you have multiple personas to target, this way when discussing a lead and which type of buyer they are, you can just refer to Stressed Accountant Andrew for example (think of it as a file folder of ideal customer traits) for instance, instead of referring to a vague target market.
4. Apply buyers journey thinking to each persona
Now that you have finely tuned personas, It is important to understand what information they will need at each stage of the buyer’s journey they’re in.
They will either be in
- the awareness stage where they are only realizing a potential problem but aren’t too sure what it is yet.
- Or they’re in the consideration stage where they have figured out what the problem is but need to know how to address it now and then finally,
- they could be in the decision stagewhere they know what they need and begin to compare you with the competition while researching their best options.
By creating content which has been designed to appeal to your personas problems at all three stages of the buyer’s journey, you will shorten the sales cycle. This is becuase content positions you as an expert who is helping them, and not just another sales person.
Naturally the more content you post, the more likely you are to have helped someone. Imagine that you were in the consideration stage of investing your first camera for your new photography business. Wouldn’t it be helpful to be able to read an eBook from a blog discussing camera features and specifications to assist you in deciding which model to buy? Perhaps they would also show pictures that they’ve taken on a safari demonstrating zoom capabilities. or include some do’s and don’ts for taking the perfect action shot.
Now that camera business has established trust because they’ve proven themselves to not only be knowledgeable in the field, but they’re also giving out some free, helpful information. This could be a sign-up for a subscription or a free eBook download. Becuase the prospect has been helped by you, they will progress through the sales cycle faster, shortening the sales cycle.
5. Quote online.
If a prospect can click a button to request a quote, they are probably qualified and ready to convert. This saves your reps driving out, pitching a sale and wasting time plus money on an unqualified lead, hence the sales cycle is shortened. So be sure to consider either self-quote tools online or having a lighting fast response time to your quote requests.
6. Send content to your existing customer base
Produce content that helps existing customers who have already purchased your products or services. The goal is to achieve long-term customer relations by constantly reminding them who the expert is in the field, who gives them the most value, best service and best product.
Here’s an example, your company sells printers to businesses. You write weekly blogs on your website and social media containing useful information that your customer will appreciate. This could be along the lines of “How to use your LaserJet printer more efficiently” or “5 Tips to extending the lifespan of your printer”. If that buyer decides that they need an upgraded printer, they’ll know who to come to and what they need. This will make the sales cycle quicker and easier. You will also inevitably gain additional advertising via word-of-mouth over time.
Achieve the shortest sales cycle that you can by paying attention to: consultative selling, persona, buyers journey, speed of quoting and upselling to existing customer base. Understand more about Inbound Marketing by downloading our ebook. Inbound marketing generates leads and supports consultative selling through content. Combined, the two approaches help shorten the sales cycle.
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