The sales cycle can simply be defined as how long it takes from the moment you start talking to a customer to the moment the customer pays for goods. This is a big concern for all businesses but more so for businesses that sell on credit. Whichever way your business operates you would want the sales cycle to be as short as possible and in that vein I thought it would be great to share some practical tips that can shorten your sales cycle.

Speak to your customers

In the world of digital, it is so easy to communicate with people in a hurried manner. After all expedience goes with convenience. However, just because we are communicating over media that are considered impersonal doesn’t mean you have to be. It is important to develop a culture of connecting with your customers when you do talk to them. While face to face conversations are great factors ranging from time to the pandemic make this difficult right now. I know one person, who has the sort of business that is ongoing, who arranges a regular catch up call with their clients. It is not ideal for every business. What’s important is developing relationships.

Know your value proposition

When you know the value proposition of your business or product you save yourself a lot of time and effort that would otherwise be wasted. A salesperson who knows the value proposition of the business knows what to approach customers with rather than harp on endlessly. A marketer who knows the value proposition of their business knows what to emphasize in marketing messages. Understanding your value proposition between a salesperson saying “we have a $50 modem and a $100 modem” and saying “our $50 modem allows you to connect up to 10 devices at once while our $100 allows you to connect 50 devices and has a backup battery that will last for 5 hours in the event of a power outage”. Communicating the value proposition shortens the decision making time because it communicates value in terms that they can understand. Throwing up technical terms doesn’t help much either, I really don’t know how big 256 Gigabytes is but I know what having my entire music collection that spans decades means to me.

Expose your price

It somewhat aggravates me that I still have to mention this but as they say “it is what it is”. Just like the value proposition, the price is important. It is an important part of the buying decision for many people and of course, there is the issue of value for money. While having people enquire about the price makes you feel like you are doing a lot all you’re really doing is spending valuable time informing people of the price. You will likely have a low conversion rate with this sort of practice. If you make people aware of the pricing as early as possible you can progress comfortably knowing that the price is acceptable to them.

Make it easy

A complicated sales process is also a big hindrance to a shorter sales cycle. Sending your customer from pillar to post may make things easier for you but the moment the value they receive is outweighed by the effort required you are in trouble. Look at the sales process from the customer’s point of view and ask yourself if that is something you would enjoy going through. Are there changes you can make that would significantly improve the process? Say you’re selling on WhatsApp, having clearly defined stock-keeping units (SKUs) or product codes will save your customer the trouble of coming back to you and saying I would like the summer dress with the sleeves and the open back in yellow in size 12. Imagine they could just say”I would like SDSOBY in size 12. Well stop imagining and put it into practice.

Make your marketing valuable

What I’m about to talk about something that makes me cringe 5 to 7 times per day. It is a problem that affects Zimbabwean companies big and small particularly when it comes to social media. Whether it is because they don’t know what to say or they have run out of things to say the communication becomes a brain-numbing carbon copy of the last message and the next. Customers love value but they don’t just love it in your products but also your marketing messages and general communication. So when I see financial institutions churning out content about pancake day at the expense of telling me how to protect my money or what their products can do to improve my life I’m left wondering. I love pancakes but I’m likely to visit the social media page of a pancake business for pancake day content.

Review your cycle

Finally, I will close this with my regular reminder that “if you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it”. What’s your longest sale? What’s your shortest? What’s your average this month? What’s the average this year? All of this information can be very telling about your sales cycle but you have to keep track of it first.