They are under extreme pressure to hit quota and primarily drive revenue. I know. I was one for over 17 years.
Yet we see sales cycle lengths getting worse, not better. Since 2009 they have increased 17%. Why? Three major reasons:
- Companies lack of a buyer centric sales process. The single biggest problem with sales today is sales reps are mismatched to the buyer. They think like a sales rep and not like a buyer. This causes ‘stage regression’ (aka: I forgot to ask my buyer some questions and I need to go back for another meeting). ‘Stage Regression’ can lengthen a sales cycle over 35%.
- Sales Managers don’t coach to the buyer centric sales process. They are hundreds of training classes on Sales Manager ‘coaching’. But I rarely see one that is tied to the sales process. I mean actually coaching to the activities and job aids in each stage making sure the sales rep is achieving the exit criteria. Don’t know what I am talking about. Read John Kenney’s post here: “Crossing the Sales Process Chasm: The Major Interaction“
- No discussion of Risk with the Buyer. Sales reps avoid risk discussions with buyers like the plague. One sales leader even told me “Why would I want to bring up another objection?” Why wouldn’t you? It is real and present in every purchasing decision. And preventing you from getting the deal. Buyers prioritize their purchases for their business. Whether you are dealing with a $100 billion dollar company or one that works out of a garage, they consistently prioritize their discussions based on risks. Did you ever have a prospect you thought was ‘in the bag’ only to fade away and go dark in the 11th hour? Your deal was too risky and that buyer prioritized something else over your product. Need help? Download our risk discussion guide here:
So how can you mitigate these three problems?
3 Ways Sales Managers Can Get Their Sales Reps to Close Faster
- Coach to a Sales Process. This really means pull out the job aid (preferably an opportunity assessment) and get into the details with the rep. It is the best way to really understand how the rep is using the process.
- Talk about risk with your sales reps and buyers. You need to train your reps to identify what risk is and how to mitigate that risk. Every single buyer (including you) goes through these risks when they purchase. Notice them, identify them and help overcome them.
- Plan your calls. Here at SBI, we literally go on hundreds of field rides each year. And we can count on one hand how many sales reps actually formally planned for a call. Coach your people to fill out a call plan with desired outcomes and objectives for each sales call. It will dramatically decrease the sales cycle length. Why? They won’t forget a question or important point. They will be able to advance the sale. (Eliminate ‘Stage Regression’) And won’t leave you wondering why that sale is taking so long
One of the best managers I have seen coach their sales reps to discuss risk with the buyer is Todd Daubenberger.
We helped Todd’s company design, adopt and reinforce a buyer centric sales process. Through his coaching, the sales reps are becoming experts in bringing up risk with their buyers. And guess what? His sales cycle length has decreased 16% and no decision loss rate down 19%. Good job Todd.
Want to learn more? My suggestion is you attend our next webinar to get a feeling for how to set quotas around a buyer centric sales process and how sales managers coach to it. It’s a start on getting deals in the door much quicker. You need to take action soon. The numbers tell us the odds are not in your favor.