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Speeding the Marketing to Sales Cycle

February 22, 2018

How can we shorten the sales cycle?

I’ve been hearing some version of that question for the 30 years I’ve been in technology sales and marketing.

And the short answer is …

... you can shorten it by not making it longer.

(Also, it’s not a sales cycle – that’s your point of view. Instead, it’s a buyer’s journey – your customers’ point of view.)

The Original Sales CycleConvert Sales Speedometer

Let’s begin at the beginning. Early in the first wave of technology adoption by companies, you shortened the sales cycle by showing what the technology could do. Every salesperson wanted to do a demo, and every buyer wanted to see one. It was new, and you needed to see the magic to believe it. Demos took a long time – to set up the meeting, to do the demo, to explain the features – but it was shorter than the alternative, which was letting the customer “play” with the technology and figure it out themselves.

After a while, we got used to the PC and the network it connected to. We had a frame of reference, and as salespeople, we could shorten the cycle by telling our customers what it could do, referencing what they already knew. The customer had an anchor reference we could compare to, and if we did that well, we could shorten their buying time. As a sales rep, you often still did a demo, but if you did it well, you only showed the new stuff or the stuff that really mattered.

Losing Control of the Sales Cycle When Buyers Got Smarter

Then our buyers got smarter. They came to understand the magic that allows technology to get smaller, smarter, and less expensive all at the same time. They accepted that computers get old and tired and must be replaced. They understood that software will always have bugs. And they were overwhelmed with products that all seem to do the same thing.

So, to speed the sales cycle, we gave our prospects information. Lots of information, published online, and the buyers shared information with each other in forums and reviews. Two things happened. One – the power in the sales cycle shifted to the buyer. They didn’t need the sales rep anymore. And two – in many cases the sales cycle seemed to get LONGER because of the paradox of choice.

Trying to Regain Control of the Sales Cycle

Today, to regain control of the sales cycle and attempt to shorten that buyer’s journey, we put up paywalls (forms) and ask our prospects to jump through lots of steps to buy. In one example, we saw a company that makes a prospect:

  • fill out a form
  • download the information
  • fill out another form with more qualifying information
  • talk to a call center rep
  • talk to a sales rep
  • meet with the sales rep in person

… all before they can purchase.

Download the Guide to Getting Your Marketing in Shape

Control the Sales Cycle or Sell More?

This isn’t shortening the sales cycle, it’s regaining control of it. But that wasn’t the problem they were trying to solve. The question we asked was simply: “Do you want to control the sales cycle or do you want to sell more?”

So, Ms. VP of Sales and Mr. VP of Marketing – do you want to get control or sell more? If the answer is ‘sell more,’ get rid of the steps. Collapse the process. We’re not suggesting you get rid of forms and paywalls for your truly valuable assets, we’re suggesting you find more streamlined ways to engage.

It doesn’t have to be a form-email-call center-sales rep interaction. There’s chat. There’s Facebook messenger. There’s text messaging. You can be smarter about understanding your customer’s actual buying journey and giving them the right information at the right time instead of everything all the time, which overwhelms them.

If you’d like someone to bounce ideas around with or get some help from, reach out to us. You don’t have to fill out a form – a simple email or call will do. Or, if you prefer Facebook messenger, you can find me at facebook.com/DFKraus.

Topics: buyer's journey

Dan Kraus
Written by Dan Kraus

With more than two decades of experience in sales, marketing, and go-to-market strategies, Dan Kraus has developed a deep portfolio of experiences that he now uses to help small businesses profitably grow their businesses. As an entrepreneur, Dan understands the challenges of growing a business with limited capital and human resources. As a line of business manager in larger companies such as SAP America and Great Plains Software (now part of Microsoft), his experience launching new business ventures inside reputable organizations established his reputation as a creative and effective executive that could both plan and execute within corporate confines.

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