How to Shorten Your Sales Cycle – Part 2

In the first blog of this 5 part series, I encouraged you to put focus on what it takes to shorten your sales cycle. I explained that the skills needed to shorten the sales cycle are virtually the same skills required to achieve Peak Sales Performance.

I suggested 5 key areas to master, and in this blog I will provide a deeper explanation of why it is so powerful to understand and leverage business drivers and consequences.

The Power of Business Drivers and ConsequencesIt all starts here. To accomplish your goal of inspiring and motivating your prospect to shorten his or her decision time frame your primary objective is to help them realize that the longer they wait the more costly the situation will become and the risk is most likely to increase.

This approach puts the focus where it belongs, on the prospect or customer. It makes it all about them and hinges on things that matter. This is why it works.

On the other hand, if it’s a business opportunity they’re pursuing, versus looking for a solution to fix a problem, the longer they wait the more likely it is that a competitor will fill the void or the window of opportunity will close all together.

Always keep in mind that timing and speed are motivators when it comes to business growth.

To the degree you can build the case, illustrate and articulate how your prospect or customer will benefit from taking action now, you will shorten the decision making time frame.

Your 5 Steps to Decision Acceleration:

Step #1 – Leverage Business Drivers

  • Study and become conversational around the 6 foundational business drivers:
    • Increase sales & profits
    • Increase market share
    • Gain a competitive advantage
    • Reduce costs
    • Increase efficiency & production
    • Increase safety

Of course there are many other business drivers such as adopting new technology, improving morale, hiring X new employees, quickly getting a new product to market. But the interesting thing is most of them are for the purpose of achieving one or several of the above 6.

The strategy behind focusing on these business drivers is to enable you to incorporate them into your thinking, questioning and conversations with prospects and customers on a consistent and regular basis.

These are the things that matter and these are the things that wake them up in the middle of the night.

When you are able to demonstrate that you can help them accomplish one or two of these drivers and you can show them the benefits of moving forward now and the consequences of not moving forward now, you successfully position yourself to influence the decision process.

Step #2 – Prepare to Influence

  • Continue to build your power of influence by arming yourself with the following information and insights:
    • 3 trends and 3 issues in the prospect’s industry
    • The prospect’s products and services
    • Identify who some of the prospect’s customers are and the markets they serve
    • Learn a bit about the contact you intend to target via LinkedIn and Google
    • Identify what the company stands for and their vision for their future

Possessing this information and being prepared to discuss it enables you to establish credibility and trust in the eyes of your prospect or customer. It prepares you to ask intelligent questions, and most importantly, prepares you to create a link between what they want and your ability to deliver. Having this information enables you to connect with your prospect or customer at a much deeper level by virtue of tailoring your language, ideas and suggestions in a manner that resonates with them. Now you’re differentiating yourself and your team from the competition.

Step #3 – Prepare Relevant and Meaningful Questions

Now you are prepared to engage in a first class business conversation and truly shine. Here’s a recap: You have prepared to discuss business drivers and you are armed with key information about your prospect or customer’s industry, their company and your individual contact.

Your next strategic move is to prepare a series of relevant and meaningful questions for the purpose of uncovering their personal and corporate motivation and business drivers.

  • Prepare the Following Questions for Your Discovery Meeting:
    • Questions for the purpose of uncovering the prospect’s specific business drivers and why they are so important to their organization
    • Questions to uncover the change they desire
    • Confirm the money to invest in this initiative has been set aside
    • Questions to uncover why the company is focused on these particular objectives
    • Ask how important it is that they achieve the objectives and in what time frame
    • Questions to uncover what will happen if they don’t achieve the objectives
    • Uncover why these objectives are important to them personally
    • And of course, don’t forget to ask them to explain their organization’s decision making process as it relates to your products and services

Step #4 – Presenting Your Ideas and Suggestions

Once you’ve held your discovery meeting with your prospect or customer and collected lots of relevant information, you are prepared to present your ideas, suggestions and reasons for moving forward now.

  • Prepare the following for your presentation:
    • Give thought to and prepare yourself to illustrate how your products and services link to and stand ready to help the prospect achieve some of their business drivers and objectives. (Please notice I said “some”. It is unrealistic to think, expect or claim that you can impact and fix all their problems and objectives. Sales Representatives that go down this path erode their credibility and weaken their competitive stance. Keep it real.)
    • When explaining any attribute of your product or service always begin with a brief recap of what the prospect or customer said they want to accomplish and then illustrate how your feature will deliver what they envision and want
    • Prepare to be able to discuss and illustrate the consequences of the prospect not taking action. This is where your previous research on their industry trends, industry issues and their customer demands comes in handy. And this is where you establish equal business stature and a peer to peer relationship based on credibility

Step #5 – Close the Sale

Close by doing a rundown and brief recap of their most pressing issues and objectives and confirm your understanding is accurate and complete:

  • Using the technique of summarizing and reviewing what the prospect or customer told you paints a picture and brings to the forefront of their mind what they said and view as important
  • Summarizing removes superfluous information and focuses the prospects mind on the weight and consequences of taking action or not taking action. This is a tactic that builds value and a sense of urgency
  • Remember, when a Salesperson goes into the sales process with a predetermined opinion of the value they deliver and then pushes that proposition on the prospect or customer they are shooting in the dark and significantly eroding credibility and diminishing their effectiveness
  • The prospect defines the value, and it’s our job through asking the right questions to unveil their opinion, view and perspective
  • Once we have accomplished that, our job is to articulate how our products and services will help them achieve their objectives
  • The sequence is: it’s first about them and then it’s about how you will help them get what they want. Not the other way around
  • After you summarize, move to close the sale by asking the prospect or customer if they would like you to help them achieve their business drivers and objectives now. And, be prepared to explain how long it will take and recap the consequences if they delay

If you slow down the front end of the sales process and get all the information you need to present yourself as a business person with knowledge, insight and a strong desire to collaborate and contribute you will be in a position to accelerate the second half of the sales process and in doing so you will shorten your sales cycle. And, this process will also help you close bigger deals and get more of your existing customer’s business.

Consistently taking this approach to your business will result in you outworking, outthinking and outselling your competition. And when the day is done, isn’t that what you want?

In my next blog, I will give you some ideas on how to increase the number of deals where you are able to get the final decision maker involved in your sales process.

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