Investing in lead qualification and nurturing contacts that are not yet ready for a commercial approach are some ways to reduce the sales cycle
One aspect that needs to be treated with utmost attention in the B2B model is the sales cycle. The greater the complexity of the sale, the greater the risks of this cycle being extended and the need to find ways to streamline the commercial process arises.
In a business sales model, each customer requires thoughtful and thoughtful negotiation. This can be due to the high average ticket or even very specific technical needs, which make the process more complex and longer.
The fact is that finding qualified Leads in the B2B market is not such a simple task. It is common for companies that use the model to experience problems with long sales cycles, which end up resulting in a high Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC).
In this text, you’ll learn how to optimize your sales cycle to secure more Leads and lower your sales process costs.
What is the sales cycle?
The sales cycle is the average time it takes for a product or service to be sold. It ranges from a person’s first contact with the company to post-sales.
Why should the sales cycle be shortened?
There are many reasons to shorten your sales cycle. Know the main benefits.
To increase the company’s profitability
Ideally, in companies, investments bring quick returns. During the sales and prospecting process, every moment is worth gold.
After all, the longer the lead remains in the funnel and in the negotiation stage, the greater the investment — that is, the salespeople’ working time, product sampling, technical visits. All add up to the cost of customer acquisition (CAC) and can decrease your company’s profitability.
To motivate sellers
When the sales cycle is faster, the salesperson is able to fill a greater number of opportunities – which, of course, also increases the chances of closing a new sale.
This dynamism and increased chances of success help to motivate salespeople, as they start to see clearly the results of their work.
To gain competitiveness
The market today is competitive in all areas. Always consider that your Lead can be in contact with your competitors at the same time. Everyone has prospecting strategies and can present value to the contacts they share with you.
Therefore, in the market, those who work with strategies that manage to show the value of the solution, gain the Lead’s trust and, consequently, speed up the purchase decision, often win.
Just look at what an Inside Sales study revealed: 35% to 50% of sales go to the salesperson who contacts you first. To do this, you need to reduce lead response time to get ahead and secure closing before your competition is able to cover your offer and steal the customer.
The importance of reducing the sales cycle in companies that received investments
Another specific case is that of companies that received investment from investors. Until achieving returns on investment, the company ends up operating within what is called burn rate.
Burn rate is a metric that quantifies the speed at which cash (from the investment) is spent. In other words, this is what happens during the period when the company is working in the negative.
This can occur in start-up companies, which are still in the growth phase, or even when they are looking for faster growth — which requires a large injection of resources to streamline the process.
It turns out that this is a risky move and should not be prolonged further than necessary. Therefore, the more agile the return on investment (ROI), the better for the business.
How to reduce the sales cycle in practice? 5 effective strategies
Learn now about some effective strategies to keep the sales cycle under control and ensure higher sales conversion.
1. Invest in Lead Qualification
The success of the sales department intrinsically depends on the quality of the Leads sent for a commercial approach. The better qualified, the greater the chances of closing sales and the lesser the waste of time and resources on opportunities that will not become customers.
Therefore, you need to take measures to ensure a quality standard in the delivery of opportunities to the Sales team. The qualification process of Leads serves to select only real opportunities and can be done by filters in Marketing actions and by the action of pre-sales or SDRs (Sales Development Representatives).
All opportunities in the base must be evaluated according to criteria defined by the company, strategically considering the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). The objective is to filter out Leads that have any impediment to progress in the commercial process – such as lack of funds or low maturity to use your solution.
Thus, you are able to reduce the amount of unproductive work for sellers – thus ensuring that they can focus their efforts on those who have a real chance to make the purchase!
In more structured companies, the qualification of Leads from the base is the pre-sales department. In it are the professionals who are responsible for making direct contact with each of the Leads and applying the qualification filters.
The pre-sales team asks the right questions to define the chances of success of each negotiation, evaluating whether or not it is worth pursuing each opportunity and already collecting important information for the next commercial contacts.
Leads considered “hot” – that is, those that have characteristics that indicate a high probability of purchase – will be prioritized by the sales department. After all, if you take too long you can lose the sale to your competition, remember?
The “cold” Leads will be discarded or directed to a nutrition flow so that they mature and can be addressed as soon as possible.
Needless to say, this action results in a shorter and cheaper sales cycle, right?
More than that: the in-depth knowledge of the Lead’s pains prevents improper sales from being made, increasing your customers’ success rate and reducing dissatisfaction. The fewer dissatisfied customers, the less likely they are to have detractors from your brand and the greater the chances that a loyal customer will indicate new opportunities.
A pre-sales department makes sense for more complex commercial operations, with a high volume of Leads and well-defined qualification criteria. In addition, the costs involved in hiring and training these professionals also need to be considered before making this decision.
In simpler sales and smaller companies, automated qualification filters can do a good enough job, like Lead Management and Lead Scoring tools. You can follow the evolution of the relationship with each Lead, mapping the contacts made since the first conversion until it becomes an opportunity.
From then on, it’s enough to evaluate the profile that the Lead built in your base, its interaction history and the information it shared with you in forms and emails. Compare this data to your qualification criteria and pass only the highest rated to the Sales team.
2. Feed Leads that are not ready yet
Some Leads won’t become customers, that’s a fact. However, it is safe to say that, in most cases, most people interested in a brand can become customers at some point in their lives. They just need a little push!
So don’t even think about discarding all the low-qualified Leads. Each Lead had a cost to the company. Throwing them away would simply waste the resources you’ve already invested in attraction campaigns.
It is very important that you establish clear criteria to determine which ones are irrecoverable, so as not to expend efforts in these cases, and seek to save as much as possible of those who escape this margin.
Faced with this situation, the best way is to create streams of nutrition to recover cold and warm Leads.
The first step is to identify which reasons prevent the Lead from buying now. In some cases, it will be a matter of the company’s internal calendar – which means all you have to do is schedule the call at the right time and make sure the Lead doesn’t forget you until then, sending materials sporadically.
Other cases will be Leads who are not yet aware that they need your solution. Maybe the problem isn’t bothering you enough yet, or maybe you haven’t been able to demonstrate the value of the product yet. In any case, this Lead needs more information to understand both issues.
The important thing is to evaluate your sales process and see what are the most common reasons that delay the sales cycle. By identifying them all, just create nutrition streams for each one.
Create blogposts, rich materials and provide content relevant to what the Lead needs. It is very important that the material sent is related to the pains and needs identified, otherwise, it will be marked as spam and the effect will be the opposite.
That way, the sales funnel doesn’t get inflated as you shift out unready opportunities and free up the base so salespeople can work better. And, above all, don’t get too attached to Leads that have no future!
If the Lead is frozen and doesn’t respond well to the flow of nutrition, don’t think twice: drop it and free your process of an empty volume. This gives you more clarity to manage opportunities well and can optimize the sales cycle as desired.
3. Contact Leads as soon as possible
If you work with Inside Sales, it is essential to optimize your business routine so that sellers can contact Leads as soon as possible.
One way to do this is using a CRM with an integrated virtual phone, which allows you to make calls directly through the tool, without having to open another window. This functionality reduces the effort for the connections and concentrates all the data on the same platform, making it easier to manage the results.
Another important tip is to quickly notify salespeople when a new Lead arrives or a new activity needs attention so that no opportunity goes out of contact for a long time. This shortens the lead time between one step in the business process.
The agility of the sales cycle saves resources, increases the chances of sales and brings the long-awaited return to investors in record time. These are some reasons why taking care of the sales cycle is so important for the B2B model.
4. Monitor the sales cycle using a CRM
Likewise, it is essential to have a good CRM to control the commercial process and have reliable information about the length of the sales cycle and the evolution of negotiations.
The length of the sales cycle is directly related to the productivity and assertiveness of salespeople. The CRM software, in addition to supporting data collection to measure these two points, helps to improve both:
- With CRM, salespeople are better organized with the volume of tasks and opportunities they need to contact, avoiding wasting time with unimportant tasks;
- Thus, the seller does not run the risk of losing the timing of a negotiation, delaying the sending of documents or forgetting a follow-up;
- It is possible to prioritize opportunities that are more likely to close or close to the end date of the average sales cycle, to avoid extending this period;
- With CRM, salespeople can reactivate lost opportunities for avoidable reasons, such as price or payment terms, which can change over time.
Resource savings occur on several fronts, from optimizing salespeople’s working hours to the opportunity to close new deals with Leads that, until then, were hopeless cases.
5. Understand your competitors
This tip concerns your competitors. It’s extremely rare to find a niche in which you are the only solution, and don’t be fooled into thinking that your customer won’t look for an alternative from competitors.
In this sense, your best alternative is to know as much as you can about the competition. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses, you can make more efficient strategic decisions, such as investing in overcoming what you know about your opponents and building an argumentative base that makes your value very clear in the entire market.
When you can prove why your solution is better than any other, you earn the Lead’s trust. This is also an accelerator of the sales cycle and a determining factor in the decision process.
The most important thing is not to think about outperforming the competition only in terms of price, but rather being able to deliver more value than anyone else, offering real advantages to your customers.