You can’t overturn a single rock nowadays without some thought-leading salamander slithering out from under to tell you how to shorten your sales cycle and proposing magical elixirs for driving your time to close down to days as opposed to months.
While many of these folks give sound advice, the reality for some of us is that we simply have a long sales cycle. It’s not long because we aren’t good at our jobs; it’s not long because we aren’t in tune with the best ways to close deals. It’s long because our stuff is expensive. Our customers are placing a big bet when they sign that contract, and it takes time to work through how risky that may be for them.
There is a direct correlation between deal size and sales cycle length. Refute it if you can, but you’d be hard pressed to find evidence that supports your argument. The more money you are asking for, the longer it takes to receive it. Now that I’ve sufficiently blown your minds with my mastery of the obvious, let’s focus on some things we can actually do to shrink the sales cycle for larger ticket items.
While enterprise deals consistently take longer to close due to cost, complexity, and competition, you can do a few things to accelerate that close. (This is the point in the blog post where I morph into a thought-leading salamander.)
1. Require a defined attack plan at the enterprise level
Pedigree matters in enterprise sales. You need experience, and failure, in order to excel at selling large ticket deals. That’s a fact.
However, just because you’ve paid those dues doesn’t mean you can freewheel it in terms of how you work deals from an activity standpoint. I’ve made a career in the sales development space by adhering to an activity process. We know the right mix of calls, voicemails, and emails you need to deploy to get a prospect live on the phone within two weeks so that you can disposition that account in or out. In fact, we share some of our voicemail and email expertise in the form of templates that can be located on our blog, Sales Wars. For some reason, the majority of companies allow their enterprise reps to “do their own thing.” No thanks! You’ve spent good money working that lead through a regimented phone and email process to turn it into gold. Your enterprise rep needs to deploy the same level of discipline in their follow-up. Make them have a plan and track that plan in your CRM.
2. Understand the competitive landscape
I’ll illustrate this point by telling you about a challenge that we ran into ourselves. We recently added a SaaS platform to our suite of offerings at Quotafactory. It is very exciting for us, but it has presented many challenges from a sales standpoint. Most notably, we have a whole new bevy of competitors that are already entrenched in our ideal clients.
You see, we didn’t get to the market first. We opted to be late in order to be the best offering. All self-promotion aside, we had to understand our space and try to learn who was using what before we even made a dial. Nothing is more powerful than arming your enterprise level gals and guys with the tech landscape in an account as part of the lead handoff. Find a source you trust and add those data points to your arsenal. Enterprise reps worth their salt will thank you because they’ll have credible intel which will make their conversations easier to tailor to their prospects.
3. Leverage your references now, not later
I hate how long it takes enterprise reps to leverage a referenceable account. We hold them back like my dad did with a lollipop during my first terrifying haircut. Dad…if you had given me the lolli at the start of the haircut I’d have been focused on that the entire time and probably would not have noticed the stranger taking shears to my head while I was strapped into a chair.
Enterprise reps – don’t be like my dad. Give your prospects the lollipop early. Hook them up with your happy clients after a discovery call. Keeping the momentum in an enterprise sale moving briskly is key to managing the length of the cycle, so why wait to throw the haymaker? Your references have spent the same amount of money as the prospect is considering. They haven’t lost their jobs because of that expenditure. Early reference calls say three things. First, “Other people have spent this money with me and they are willing to speak to you about it,” a very powerful message. Second, “Enough of me selling you, before we get serious why don’t you speak with someone who was recently in your shoes.” Third, “I believe the value for you is obvious and easily provable, and I’m willing to let you check that out on your own. I don’t need to control what you hear.”
Selling large deals is the best. I love the excitement of a big deal, the impact they have on our company, and the closeness the longer sales cycle creates between our customers and my team. I truly enjoy the process.
That being said, you need to get deals closed. Take a look at your own process and see if you can implement any or all of the above to shrink that sales cycle down slightly. Remember, when the deals are big, the sales cycles are longer. The sooner they become a client, the better.
Shortening sales cycles is often a team effort between marketing and sales. Learn how marketing automation can help you engage your audience across the entire buyer’s journey with automated emails, CRM integrations, powerful reporting and so much more.