A Reason For Extending Your Sales Cycles


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One of the common message these days about sales cycles is that you are not invited to the table till 60%of the sales cycles is over. Of course, ideally we would want to be in earlier in the cycle and be part of finding the solution with the customer. All that co-creation, collaboration and trust-based selling practices that we are told about. If we are really good, we can be that Challenger Salesman portrayed in Dixon’s book, The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation. If we would be so lucky.

The truth is most of us are not that lucky. The only luck we really have is being invited to the decision table at all. I, for one, will take that 60% when offered. How about you?

What most of us do is attempt to sell our solution as being the best and often caving in on price considerations prematurely so someone will listen. We are like a little child seeking attention. And how did our parents react to that? They put us in the corner and told us to behave. I regretfully say that I remember those situations as a child and even more regretfully as a salesperson.

So, what do you do when you are behind the eight ball? What is the one thing that you need to give yourself a chance? What most of us need is time. So the number one issue, when we walk in the door, is not solution orientated but time, and the lack of it that we need to concentrate on. I would contend that the mistake is made by the salesperson, and if time is addressed correctly, we can put ourselves in a much better position. Granted the salesperson or organization that was in first is in the driver’s seat but the longer that it takes for a decision to be made the better our opportunity.

I might call my effort the 3Cs of time expansion. The 3Cs stand for Consensus, Compatibility and Capacity.

Consensus: They same studies that tell us 60% of a buying decision is over are also saying that it takes five people to sign off on most decisions. When we get invited to the table, most of us assume that the five people are in agreement about the purchase. This is seldom the case. We need to probe and find out who is at the table, I typically use the Value Modeling Map (see blog post: Make a Quick Impact on the Customer Decision Process) as a guideline, often reveals the dissenting parties. If not, discover the roles and prepare to talk to them individually if possible. Don’t kid yourself, they are not all in agreement.

Compatibility: Review what this anticipated change actually means in time and effort to the organization. Notice if it is consistent with the organization’s culture and tied to a business initiative and, of course, how burning is that platform.

Capacity: Speaking of burning platforms, does the organization have the capacity to fully implement these changes. Will other resources be needed and in what order?

When we start addressing the 3Cs, most of us are prepared beyond belief. Remember, all the lame excuses everyone gave you in the past to put off a decision? Well, start using them to your advantage. Have there been any changes to your budget that would preclude this? Who will need training and is the time allocated for this? What is the learning curve?

Yes, time is your ultimate enemy. Maybe even more so than your competition. If you can manage time well, I believe you will generate more successful outcomes.

P.S. If you are in the driver’s seat…you may consider putting the pedal to the metal and go for it.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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