Last week, we talked about the main problems companies face when trying to shorten the sales cycle , analyzing the most common side effects on other sales team indicators.
Today, we will continue to talk about the sales cycle of Blue World City, but our focus is on how to avoid the aforementioned problems and get to the Holy Grail: reducing the sales cycle.
A step by step
If we think of the sales cycle as different parts, we can think of reducing them separately. When imagining the sales funnel, we have the following:
From now on, our reasoning will be based on optimizing each of the steps in the sales funnel.
This is the easy way out. As we’ve talked here several times, Capital Smart City will put the two main texts below:
- Active Prospecting: How to find the right email
- How to prospect up to 200% more contacts in Outbound
Based on the tools we have at our disposal, Commercial Intelligence manages to generate hundreds of contacts in just one working day. The automation of this task makes the Intelligence team the most efficient of the team and, for that reason, it assumes other tasks with ease.
The prospector is responsible for connecting with the prospect and its output are MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads), those leads qualified by profile. Its activities mainly involve cold calls and cold mails, with several subsequent follow ups and, in some cases, product presentation calls.
Its cycle is the second shortest in the funnel, as its maximum time is limited to the duration of the Cadence Flow defined in the process. Therefore, when trying to prospect a new contact, every prospector will make a certain number of attempts.
To optimize the prospecting process, we have two clear alternatives: being able to speak quickly through cold calls or increasing the attractiveness of cold mails.
In the first case, we work with flexibility and a little experience or “evil”. If the prospector is naive, he ends up having difficulty overcoming barriers, such as secretaries or lower-level employees who do not want to bother the superior, who in our view is the decision maker. This type of difficulty is common in inexperienced salespeople, unaccustomed to dodging such situations.
A good sales manager can reduce this type of occurrence through proper coaching. He must perform shadow sessions, where he tracks the salesperson’s calls, or simply use a software to record the calls and review them later. After finding the gap in the employee, feedback and training is required, with role-playing sessions, where the manager simulates a real case and analyzes the employee’s improvement.
For the second situation, where we want to increase the attractiveness of cold mails, it is the responsibility of the Commercial Intelligence team, together with Prospectors and managers, to define the best ‘Subjects’ of the emails sent, as well as the information contained therein. Using tools like Yesware, it is possible to compare different templates and arrive at an optimized email, increasing the chances of conversion.
In both cases, the main objective is to get the connection as quickly as possible, and the best case is in the first stage, without the need for many follow-ups and, consequently, time invested by Prospector.
The SDR completes the qualification and nutrition of MQLs, transforming them into SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads), that is, in addition to their profile, they have the maturity to buy the product.
Its process tends to be one of the longest, varying from market to market. In some cases, we have a longer nutrition process, either due to the complexity of the product or the lack of only one decision maker, where several people need to decide to purchase a product. Here, we see that the work of the SDR takes longer, however sales cycle reduction practices do not change.
For SDR, we also have the cadence stream, so a limited number of retries. After that, it is his responsibility to return the contact to the prospector, if the conversation has not progressed, or to continue evolving, if he perceives the closing opportunity.
However, how can this lead evolution and maturation time be reduced?
One of the most discussed topics here in Outbound Marketing has been Consultive Sales and one of its main tools, the GPCT.
Maturity, in a SQL, is nothing more than the lead understanding a problem he has and the solution to that problem (this solution must always be the value proposition of the product you are selling, correct?).
Therefore, the SDR must be an expert in using the GPCT. If he knows how to add value, direct the conversation and demonstrate the problem to the lead, he can present the solution with greater agility. Once this is achieved, doubts lessen and alignment grows. The SDR, by acting as a sales consultant, gains credibility and becomes a reference in the eyes of the buyer.
It is common to believe that no, the easiest thing would be to present the solution up front and hope that the lead understands it. However, there are no shortcuts or easy paths in sales. It may be that one or another lead is already mature at this stage of the process, which would greatly accelerate the sales cycle of the lead in question. But in general, this kind of attitude generates the impact raised in last week’s text: a sharp drop in conversion. If your process allows all leads to be handled with the necessary attention, you will have an even higher conversion and lower churn as well. In the end, when your SDRs become experts at running the GPCT, they will be able to create rapport much more easily and accelerate the sales cycle naturally.
So if you need to impact the sales cycle quickly, don’t focus here. This acceleration work takes time and adequate training for the team, with a manager acting as a coach for much of their time and ensuring that the team is able to execute a consistent and quick alignment.
Lastly, we have the seller, who receives the SQLs and needs to convert them into customers. In some cases, this process takes longer than the nutrition process performed by SDRs. Usually, this is due to the companies’ internal bureaucracy, price negotiations or lack of urgency in the purchasing process.
Starting with the last case cited, the lack of urgency, we realize that this occurrence is one of the smallest. If your SDR is able to clearly align the GPCT, it is clear to the buyer that they need to solve a problem to reach their goals and the timeline is already defined throughout the nutrition process. Therefore, in a few cases we perceive this situation as a gap only for the seller. When this occurs, it is usually due to the fact that the product has, for example, a long implementation period or a high value, which does not directly fit into the budget. Therefore, the seller works his markup and is responsible for creating urgency through discounts or arguments. For long implementation lead times, It’s common to see salespeople retaking the GPCT and demonstrating how the timeline can be compromised if hiring drags on for long months. For high price cases, the easiest way is to remember the ROI lead presented by the SDR.
As we can see, the GPCT is an essential part of the Seller’s process as well, so it needs to be well aligned during the baton passing.
Finally, when we talk about internal bureaucracy (common when you sell to the State or very large or conservative companies), we have a simple tip. Your salesperson must act in the Account Based Marketing model, where he is concerned with building a relationship with the lead, in order to gain an ally in the process of reducing the sales cycle.
Instead of continuing to present the solution and demonstrating its value, the game becomes political and its salesperson must be able to generate internal lobbying, which speeds up the procedures within the company and, consequently, guarantees a faster result to the decision maker, who understands how his product will impact your plans and goals.
And now? Have I shortened my sales cycle?
If you manage to put all of the above possible steps into practice, your sales cycle will likely be reduced by 15% to 30% of the total, depending on the previous period (it’s always harder to reduce a 5-day cycle than a 120-day cycle.).
However, we have other tips for you to streamline your Outbound process and achieve an even more positive impact on your sales cycle:
Use Content Marketing
Take advantage of all the materials your Marketing team produces. Blog posts, white papers, info graphics and eBooks. All of them are excellent allies during your sales cycle, as they help to clear even more questions from customers and with much less time.
Whenever possible, indicate material relevant to the time of the lead, as he can read this content at any time of the day and week. If you have already created enough interest, it will be easier for them to take the time to understand more deeply about what they talked about and, when reading content from your team, the maturity acquired by the customer is much faster (and cheaper) than along the cadence flow.
Don’t complicate your sale
How many times have you wanted to buy new software but didn’t understand which plan would fit best or even how much would you have to pay for the solution? Make it easier for the customer to understand their pricing and, if defined in plans, the difference between each one.
That’s why almost every SaaS company has a page on their website in the template below:
Don’t get attached to leads
It’s never good to give up, but your team can’t get attached to leads. Your cadence flow should be the decision point and it should be based on some measurable parameters. When making X contacts, has your SDR already managed to make a product presentation? Was the answer positive? Does it already have half of the GPCT information aligned?
Understand when you should give up a lead and save your team’s time, otherwise it will forever be doing follow ups. Remember that the worst answer in sales is always “Maybe”. “Yes” or “No” gives you clear direction and saves everyone’s time. Unfortunately, the Brazilian market is prone to maybe, probably because I believe it would be rude to say a resounding no, or even out of laziness/shame.
In the end, no matter if the Brazilian market is really peculiar, make sure your team is always investing and not wasting time and energy.
Understand your competitors
Know what your strengths and weaknesses are when compared to your main competitors. If this type of information, which is very strategic, is in the hands of your team, the sales process becomes simpler.
When a prospector finds a lead using a competitor, he will know how to highlight your product’s differentials and generate minimal interest. The SDR will take advantage of gaps during GPCT alignment, understanding the main needs or differentials that your product can offer and the value generated for the lead. If they are in line with the buyer’s needs, the seller will know what discount is needed (or if it is needed) to close the sale and secure a new customer.
This type of sale is very important, after all it is called the six-point game. You score and still bleed your competitor a little.
However, don’t make this a constant strategy. Predatory competition is always the worst option for both sides, as both start to focus on attack and counterattack, without continuing to evolve their products and services at the same speed and opening the opportunity for new competitors to enter the market.
What’s up? How long do the results arrive? How to measure them?
I’ve already commented in the previous post that, if you use a CRM, the information is already chewed up to you. Set a start period for the corrections you need to make and start measuring your sales cycle from there. Know that closings made in the first few days (or weeks, depending on the length of your sales cycle) are still a legacy of the old process, but with the possible impact of new actions.
If your previous cycle was 90 days, this is where you start to see the most striking results, as you had some time to implement the actions, ensure their good execution by your team and wait for their effect.
It was clear? If you have any questions, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to talk to you.
A hug and good luck!