Understand the difference between a sales process and a sales cycle. Learn why trying for a one-call-close decreases your win rate. Learn how to evaluate your own sales cycle to determine the appropriate length, and how to create a flexible sales process.
- What's the difference between a sales process and a sales cycle? Words only mean what we think they mean and your company may have some very specific definitions, but for the purposes of our conversation, let's define a sales process as what you do during the individual interaction with a customer, so it's a one time thing. The sales cycle is the amount of time it takes for a customer to go from not knowing who you are to buying from you.
It's a number of calls along the way, so process happens on every single call. Sales cycle is how all the calls string together to get you the business and service it. So now, why does this matter? Well, because most B2B sales, or high ticket sales, are not just a one call close. You have to understand the sales cycle. Let's look at an example. Imagine you sell professional services, like recruiting or accounting, or maybe you sell for a temp agency.
or maybe you sell for a temp agency. These things are rarely bought on a single sales call. Can you imagine me going in to a prospective client and saying, "Hi, I know we just met, "but I'd like you to switch "all your financial services over to my firm." If I tried to do that, I wouldn't increase the likelihood of success by asking early. I would actually decrease it, because you haven't earned the right to ask for the business yet. So, a longer sales cycle tends to take place when you have a higher ticket item, and in usually a couple of phases.
and in usually a couple of phases. There's a qualifying stage when you figure out whether or not you're a fit for this customer. There's a discovery phase where you uncover the customer's objectives. What are they trying to accomplish? There's a presenting phase where you get support from the various stakeholders. And then, there's usually a contracting and a service phase. Your company may have specific names for these, but it's important for you to understand what this looks like, because every salesperson wants to speed up their sales cycle, and trust me, your boss wants you to speed up your sales cycle, because the best salespeople, those top performers, they close more sales, and they close them faster.
they close more sales, and they close them faster. That frees up the white space to close even more business, and their numbers grow. So, I'm gonna give you some tips to how you can be one of those top performers, and it all has to do with sales cycle. Number one, know the length of the average sales cycle in your firm or industry. How long does it take, typically, to close a deal? Now, you want to go faster than everyone else. That's why you need to know the averages, 'cause you don't want to rush it so much that you turn off the customer, so you want to know which parts take longer in our business.
take longer in our business. Is it discovery? Is it getting stakeholder buy-in? What tends to take longer? And then, you want to brainstorm how can I make those things go faster. Now, this is really important, because the reason you're trying to make them go faster is because you are a purpose-driven salesperson. You're not trying to make them go faster just because you want to close the deal. You're trying to make them go faster because your North Star is you want to make a difference in the lives of your customers, so the faster you close sales, the more difference you can make, so you're trying to create urgency, which leads me to the second point.
which leads me to the second point. Look at the deals in your company that have closed quickly. What were the commonalities? Ask a couple of other salespeople. Was it a certain kind of buyer? Is there a certain issue that tends to drive people to decide faster? Maybe in a certain industry. So, for example, in our business, it's consulting, and sales tend to close faster when there's a new leader, or maybe there's been a big problem with one of the areas where we have expertise, or the client's in a very high risk situation.
So, you need to know which conditions in your business cause deals to close faster, and you need to look for opportunities where that exists, because you've got to pick and choose where to spend your time. So, look for places where the conditions are such that a deal would close faster, or look for places where you can jump start the kind of thinking that makes people decide more quickly. Now the third thing, and you want to be really, really clear on this is you want to find out on the big deals that were sold in your company, who was involved on the client side.
Now, why does this matter? Because if you want to speed up your own sales cycle, you're gonna need to get to those key players on the client side very early in the game. So, if you're new, it's likely you wouldn't know who those are, so ask some of the more seasoned, experienced people. Get a real handle on how long does it take, what needs to happen, who's involved, because the better you deepen your own understanding of a typical sales cycle, the faster you'll be able to move. You won't have to learn these lessons the hard way.
So, your sales process is what you do on every call. It's the opening. It's the questions. It's the way you gain agreement to move forward. Your sales cycle is how you string those calls together for a big win. Focus on the client's goals during the sales call, and then, create urgency about those goals to accelerate the sales cycle.
In this course, Lisa outlines key techniques to find and leverage your "noble purpose" and connect with customers on a deeper level. Learn the three key elements of a great call opening, when and when not to use a pitch deck, and the secrets to creating a sales process that can flex with different customer types. Last, she provides advice to develop yourself professionally, such as how to talk to senior leaders and position yourself as a strategy partner instead of a pitchman, when and how to take your boss on a sales call, and how to network effectively. Use these tips to close bigger, close faster, and make your work more meaningful.
- Selling with noble purpose
- Sales as a fast track to leadership
- Making the first call
- Avoiding sounding scripted
- Recovering from a bad call
- Working with your bosses and senior leaders
- Networking and being coachable